What Happiness is Not [an excerpt from Color Your Life Happy, 2nd edition]


Happiness is not the absence of sadness. Quite the contrary. Happy people acknowledge sadness and allow themselves to feel it. They choose to not be crushed by it, but instead learn from it and move beyond it.

Happiness is not the situational emotional high you feel when you win the lottery or get a new car. These are short term. You probably don’t get the same thrill from your new car a few months later as you did the day you drove it off the lot.

One of the customers at my manicurist shop had an appointment just before mine every month. She was always cheerful and full of lively conversation. When I’d mention my upcoming vacations, she’d always offer tips on places to visit in the locale because she had already been there. She enjoyed movies, visiting casinos, shopping, and spending time with her many friends and family. She was so much fun I always looked forward to seeing her. You can imagine my shock to learn that she had stage IV cancer and was almost always in physical discomfort and pain from chemotherapy and other invasive treatments. The only time I’d ever seen a hint of sadness in her was the day after her brother died. When I visited her in the hospital a few weeks before she died, she was hooked up to multiple tubes and still, when I walked in her room, she threw open her arms and welcomed me with a big smile.

I remember this beautiful soul whenever I begin to feel down or sorry for myself. Like the speed bumps on the road, these times cause me to slow down. I accept where I am at the moment,  acknowledge my feelings, and use those times to grow stronger, more creative, and more grateful.

How about you? Share in the comments how you handle the sad bumps along your happiness journey.


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This is an excerpt from Chapter 1, Opening Your Mind to Happiness in Color Your Life Happy: Create Your Unique Path and Claim the Joy You Deserve, 2nd edition. Pre-order your copy(ies) at https://coloryourlifehappy.com before October 3rd and receive an autographed copy when the book is released on Amazon and other major booksellers. [/feature_box]







Three Things Happy People Do and You Can Too [Excerpt from Color Your Life Happy, 2nd Edition]

happy peoplePeople who value their happiness commit to creating a loving environment. They do this by steering clear of toxic people and things.  In this excerpt from Chapter 7 of Color Your Life Happy: Create Your Unique Path and Claim the Joy You Deserve,  discover three ways you can do what happy people do.

Toxic people always make you feel unhappy, depressed, discouraged, and tired. They enjoy dumping their negative stories, adventures, complaints, and fault-finding on you. Once they do, you may notice that they seem relieved, maybe even relaxed and cheerful, but that’s only because they’ve given you their poison. If you tried to comfort them, maybe they sucked up some of your positivity and left you empty.

Psychic vampires are not good for us if we want to be happy people. The problem is that after they’ve gone away, you’re still feeling down and their negative energy is still reverberating through your home (and life.)

Just as you wouldn’t knowingly expose your family to harmful viruses, poison ivy, or caustic fumes, don’t unknowingly expose them to the negativity of toxic people and psychic vampires. While it may be true that the ones you know are suffering from mental problems, it isn’t your job to cure them, and you certainly can’t drag them to therapy.

You owe it to yourself and your family to keep these toxic people away because there is no way to have them in your space without being poisoned by their negativity. This is true even if some of your relatives fall into this unfortunate group. While it’s tougher keeping negative relatives away, it’s critical to your happiness.

Draw clear boundaries

Drawing clear boundaries is one way to keep these folks away. Maintaining your positive attitude and countering their negative talk with positive talk is another way. But for the hardcore bottom feeders who only get pleasure from releasing evil thoughts and behavior, you may have to tell them clearly and in easy-to-understand language that they are not welcome in your home (and life).

I used to lament the fact that I only saw certain relatives at funerals and never socialized with them otherwise. As I grew older and wiser, I realized that there was a good reason for that. They were toxic, and I didn’t want my children exposed to the ones who enjoyed dredging up painful events, gossiping about whoever was absent from the gathering and reveled in recounting how that person had cheated, hurt, or maligned someone.

Fortunately, they didn’t want to be around my efforts to be cheerful, positive, and happy, so we stayed apart.

A friend of mine who was a social psychologist once told me that when you feel bad after having been in someone’s company, you have just been emotionally abused.

Choose carefully the company you keep

Toxic people certainly have a right to live their lives as they wish, but so do you. Make a decision to invite positive and uplifting people into your home and your life. Expose your family to people who are living wonderful, inspiring, and engaging lives.

If some of your relatives aren’t people you want to spend time with, love them from a distance.

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This is an excerpt from Chapter 7, “Harmonizing Family and Work” in Color Your Life Happy: Create Your Unique Path and Claim the Joy You Deserve, 2nd edition. Available in paperback, eBook and audiobook. [/feature_box]




How do you keep toxic people from poisoning your environment or mood? Tell us about it in the comments.

Smiling on Cue and the Key to Happiness [Excerpt from Color Your Life Happy, 2nd edition]


Taken outside our house in St. Louis, MO where the front room was my mother’s beauty shop.

We were raised to smile on cue, my two sisters and I. When my mother pulled out her Kodak Brownie camera and posed us in front of our house or church, we knew to break out into full-toothed smiles. Look happy. Snap. An outward show of unhappiness was not allowed.

My sisters and I were just a few years apart. I was the oldest, Sonja was one year younger, and Mildred was one and a half years younger than Sonja.

What, my mother asked, did we have to be unhappy about? After all, we didn’t have polio, the most feared childhood ailment of the ’50s, and we had clothes, shelter, and more food than the starving children in foreign countries.

Mother’s exhortations worked for the most part, except for my middle sister, Sonja, who looked quite unhappy in almost every childhood photo. If digital cameras had been invented back then, I can imagine my mother previewing every shot and, upon discovering the frown, taking the shots over and over until she got the happy family photo she wanted.

No one ever thought to investigate why my sister always seemed unhappy. She could have been depressed, but that was not a word I recall hearing during my childhood. “She’s just like my sister Ida,” my father said many times. That diagnosis, which was never explained, stuck. Although I never met any of my father’s relatives, I guess Aunt Ida must have been unhappy. Or at least she didn’t smile on cue.

In the 1950s, most of the adults around me didn’t seem concerned about the emotional and psychological states of children. Parents could exact whatever punishment they wanted on their children without fear of the authorities. Even God was in on it, according to the way adults interpreted the Bible:

Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old
he will not depart from it.
—Proverbs 22:6 NKJV

Spare the rod, spoil the child.
—A perversion of Proverbs 13:24 NJKV

The last thing any right-thinking ’50s parent wanted was a spoiled child, so they held back on praise while they emphasized proper behavior and looking happy. Children of color had an additional burden. Not only did we have to stay in the proper child’s place, but we also had to stay on our side of the racial divide, where being overtly angry or unhappy in public was frowned upon from both sides of the track.

Feeling sad? “Wipe those tears away,” adults told us, “or I’ll give you something to cry about.” That was bad advice. I’ve since learned that tears can be very cleansing.

Long before spiritual leaders and psychologists promoted the idea that we create our own happiness, I had already discovered that any chance I had to survive a ’50s childhood was in my own hands.

Call me a Pollyanna. Call me a Miss Goody Two-Shoes. Or a wimp. My goals were to do what led to praise and happy outcomes and to avoid doing anything that brought punishment and pain—especially my mother’s wrath.

Don’t get me wrong. I spoke up and voiced my strong opinions, but I learned early to pick my battles carefully.

All in all, my childhood was not as bad as some and worlds better than many. Thanks to my mother’s smart handling of money, her resourcefulness in seeking out and involving us in positive activities, her skillful cooking and sewing, and her mastery of music (she was a superb pianist and organist), we had a stable and safe routine and home environment. We were always well-groomed from head to toe and often dressed in outfits my mother had created and customized¬¬. Reaching back to her Southern roots, she also canned fruit and vegetables for the winter, so we always had nourishing meals.

Still, there was so much emphasis on keeping up appearances, on “being good,” that we perhaps did not learn to honor and respect our true feelings, nor learn to express them in appropriate and productive ways—both the socially accepted ones like happiness, and the more difficult ones like anger and fear. As a child, I yearned for real happiness, even though I wasn’t exactly sure what it was.

My life’s work has been to understand that true happiness arises from learning to accept and learn from all our feelings, and from our struggles right alongside our triumphs. I’d love to share with you this journey of discovery, my research, and my work as I’ve learned to embrace and celebrate life in all its many wondrous colors.

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This is how I begin Chapter 1, Opening Your Mind to Happiness in Color Your Life Happy: Create Your Unique Path and Claim the Joy You Deserve, 2nd edition.  Pre-order your copy(ies) at https://coloryourlifehappy.com before October 3rd and receive an autographed copy after the book is released on Amazon and other major booksellers. [/feature_box]



What are your thoughts about putting on a happy face? Share in the comments.



How Will You Celebrate Color Your Life Happy Day on August 9th?


My mom was really surprised when I picked her up in a limo for a Mother’s Day Brunch one year.


Did you begin the year making resolutions?

If you stuck to them, it’s probably because you

        • kept your goals small and achievable
        • asked friends to help you stay on track by holding you accountable
        • changed your environment to support your new behavior.

Regardless of how you fared in this annual practice, here’s an opportunity to start anew, but with just one resolution.

What is Color Your Life Happy Day?

On August 9th join me in celebrating “Color Your Life Happy Day”, a day to participate in something you enjoy, some activity that will make
you happy and others too. Then make a decision to make it a habit to continue finding joy, pleasure, a way to help others for the rest of the year.

Happiness is not a destination, but the things we do along the way as we live our lives. At the end of their lives, many wish they had slowed down, worked less and spent more time enjoying family, friends and fun activities. Don’t let this be you.

Regrets are a waste. Do the things that bring you joy and happiness everyday.

The Origin of Color Your Life Happy Day

This special celebration was inspired by the memory of my mother, Mildred S. Morris, who would have turned 105 years old this year on August 9, 2015 (she passed at age 92 in 2002.) She was a hairstylist by trade, but spent her life making people happy with her music. She played piano and organ from childhood through her mid 80’s for many churches, organizations and events. Everyone who ever heard her play was touched by her lively and fervent style.

How to Participate?

Please join me in celebrating Color Your Life Happy Day on August 9th.

You may choose to enjoy a simple pleasure such as taking time off to read a neglected book. You may join the courageous who use this day to get control of the clutter that has been making them very unhappy. Or maybe you’ll rent a Harley or Segway to go for a fun ride. How about becoming a tourist in your own town and visit a museum or other local treasure you’ve never seen? A local convalescent home would likely welcome you to spend some time with a resident who never gets visitors.

Get busy thinking of how you will celebrate Color Your Life Happy Day. Then on August 9th take a picture showing how you celebrated. Remember, it doesn’t have to be grand or spectacular by anyone else’s standards. It just has to be something that makes you happy. Email it to me at flora@florabrown.com with your name, activity, and city/state/country.  Or use the  hashtag #coloryourlifehappy to post it on Instagram or Twitter. I will post entries on my blog, Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/coloryourlifehappy and my Pinterest page.

I’m looking forward to the wonderful array of celebrations.

By the way, if you got the awesome custom t-shirt  in June,  Color Your Life Happy Day would be a good day to wear it.  If you missed it, no worries.You can still order the beautiful t-shirt at http://teespring.com/color-your-life-happy-t-shirt  that complements my upcoming book, Color Your Life Happy: Create Your Unique Path and Claim the Joy You Deserve (August 2015)

It’s available in sizes small through 5XL and three
other colors: gold, lime and white.

What a great way to support the right to happiness
we all deserve.

This is a Limited Edition custom shirt. The original campaign ended in June, but you can still get one. Just go to http://teespring.com/color-your-life-happy-t-shirt and click I still want one!

The suggested retail price is $29.99, but I’ve discounted it when you buy it now at

Consider buying an extra one for a gift and be sure to tell your friends, family and colleagues on social media to join us. Again, the link is http://teespring.com/color-your-life-happy-t-shirt

Tell me in the comments how you plan to spend Color Your Life Happy Day on August 9th.

Slow Down, Celebrate World Sauntering Day on June 19th

Purchased from CanStockPhoto

Purchased @ CanStockPhoto

Are you one of those people who waits for permission to do what’s good for you?

Or even worse, do you wait until a huge health challenge puts you down before you change your habits?

Whichever is the case, use World Sauntering Day to slow down to enjoy the scene rushing past you called “your life.”

Your doctor will be proud of you.

Your body and mind will thank you.

Best of all, it’ll make you happier. One of the key factors reported to create happiness is slowing down to savor our food, listen to the sounds around us, and appreciate the beauty of nature.

Contrary to what you might think, stepping out of your usual routine and slowing down to saunter stimulates your creativity and makes you more productive when you return to work.

World Sauntering Day, celebrated on the 19th of June, is believed to have begun in the 1970’s at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island in Michigan. This hotel claims to have the longest porch in the world, at 660 feet long, so it makes sense that lots of sauntering took place here.

Don’t live in Michigan?  How about checking out other great sauntering opportunities taking place at other times throughout the year?

  • The Great Saunter, a 32 mile walk around Manhattan’s Shoreline is an annual event. More than 1200 participants travelled at 3MPH on completed this walk on Saturday May 2, 2015. If you missed this event, check out Shorewalkers.
  • Shorewalkers, a group devoted to protecting New York’s shorelines, hosts multiple hikes nearly every weekend. Get details at http://www.shorewalkers.org/ and learn about Cyrus Adler, its creator.
  • Google “great places to walk in [your area] “, search on meetup.com, and find ideas from Yelp.com reviews and articles pointing you to beaches, river walks, parks, nature centers, national parks and more.
  • If you don’t live near any of the suggested locales, take a walk around your neighborhood or walk the perimeter of the local mall.

Henry David Thoreau, American poet, author, abolitionist and naturalist, was fond of walking, particularly sauntering. Here’s a small part of what he had to say

I have met with but one or two persons in the course of my life who understood the art of Walking, that is, of taking walks, who had a genius, so to speak, for sauntering; which word is beautifully derived “from idle people who roved about the country, in the middle ages, and asked charity, under pretence of going à la sainte terre” — to the holy land, till the children exclaimed, “There goes a sainte-terrer“, a saunterer — a holy-lander. They who never go to the holy land in their walks, as they pretend, are indeed mere idlers and vagabonds, but they who do go there are saunterers in the good sense, such as I mean. Some, however, would derive the word from sans terre, without land or a home, which, therefore, in the good sense, will mean, having no particular home, but equally at home everywhere. For this is the secret of successful sauntering. He who sits still in a house all the time may be the greatest vagrant of all, but the Saunterer, in the good sense, is no more vagrant than the meandering river, which is all the while sedulously seeking the shortest course to the sea. But I prefer the first, which indeed is the most probable derivation. For every walk is a sort of crusade, preached by some Peter the Hermit (1) in us, to go forth and reconquer this holy land from the hands of the Infidels.

Enough talking about slowing down. Let’s get to it. What are your favorite places to saunter?  If you plan to begin slowing down where do you think you’d like to begin? Share in the Comments.

Originally published in 2013. Updated 8/12/19,