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Finding Your Happy Place

We have all experienced difficult times and, as a cancer survivor, we can feel overwhelmed and anxious. How can we help our brain to find a happy place?

Escaping reality to cope with blood cancer

Finding a happy place may help you escape reality in order to cope. Thinking happy thoughts can be the first step in this direction. This was supported in a study where participants were taught to develop a predetermined set of positive memories. The participants reported improved mood and increased serotonin levels were found, contributing to self-regulation of moods and emotions.1

Making a happy list

Try visualizing a joyful time, write it down. Have this list as a go-to for happy memories when you’re having a tough day. You might visualize a physical location that brings positive memories. My list includes remembering my first house as a newlywed and my son’s nursery, which brings back so many positive feelings. I have used this strategy at night when having difficulty sleeping.

Finding peaceful memories and experiences

Where do you feel comfortable? What do you enjoy doing with your time? What makes you happy? These questions may help you discover your happy place. Is there something you have always hoped to do? Travel, learn a new skill?

Try going somewhere different

Consider a scenic drive, biking, or camping. Try getting out of your routine.

Count your blessings

You may know someone who is in a more severe situation. I thought of this today, when I heard about a critical illness of a relative. Yes, I am a cancer survivor, but I can find my happy place and count my blessings.

Who or what makes you happy

This may include friends, family, exercise, travel, volunteering or try something on your bucket list. Spending time outdoors and connecting with nature can reduce anxiety and depression.

Walking in sunlight can increase your exposure to vitamin D (but practice sun safety!). Are you a beach person or do you prefer snow? Find your happy spot and try to revisit it.

Try reading a good book or watching a favorite movie.

I enjoying gardens and flowers. I love gardening my geraniums in window boxes and just looking at them as I sit in the rocking chair on my porch.

Do you like pets? If so, spending time with your pet can be rewarding.

Connecting with your inner thoughts

A happy place can also be a “state of mind.” Slow down and become aware of your inner thoughts. Spend time on yourself such as through a massage. I have discovered reflexology as a way to relax and connect with my inner thoughts, as well as improving my immune system.

Baby steps toward coping

Finding a happy place is not a destination but a journey. It starts with baby steps. Take the first step and find that special something that brings you joy. You deserve it!2


This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

  1. Perreau-Linck, E. In vivo measurements of brain trapping of 11C-labelled α-methyl-L-tryptophan during acute changes in mood states. J Psychiatry Neurosci. 2007 Nov;32(6):430-4. Available at
  2. Lusk, J. Finding Your Happy Place… Available at


  • Ann Harper moderator
    2 weeks ago

    @cmccue Having a happy place is a great idea. For me it would be walking on the beach on a hot summer day in my bare feet. There would be a slight breeze with the sound of crashing waves along the shore. Boy do I wish I was retiref! Thanks for sharing.

  • Carole McCue author
    2 weeks ago

    Glad that you found this helpful

  • Daniel Malito moderator
    3 weeks ago

    @cmccue Lists! I love lists! I couldn’t list without ’em! Ha ha. Seriously though, it definitely helps you to visualize the things you want and want to do, and that’s the first step to getting them to be real. Great stuff as usual. Keep on keepin’ on, DPM

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