How to Be Happy with One Simple Step

Woman smiling behind plantsAs we grow older, we begin to understand that mental health is a journey rather than a destination and that the quest for happiness is more elusive than we may have once thought. Gratification through toys, food, or sustenance that soothed us in childhood is still an active part of taking care of ourselves, yet you might feel that as an adult, we long to fill a deeper need for belonging, and satisfaction, joy, or contentment. While life here in White Lake, Michigan maybe everything we wanted, still we feel like something’s missing.

In our individual therapy sessions, we hear clients say often (with fatigue in their voice), “I just want to be happy”. The desire for happiness is understandable, and the desire to make it simple even more so, which is likely the reason you’re reading this blog. The trouble with seeking happiness as a goal is that 1) there are multiple definitions that vary by person, situation, and environment, 2) it has no set destination, and 3) it creates large gaps in the human experience that misses out on the larger spectrum of emotion. 

At New Perspective Counseling Center, instead of the pursuit of “happiness,” we encourage clients through holistic care to truly feel, breathe, reconcile, and experience both what’s within and around them. Seeking help through individual therapy can trigger ripple effects throughout the rest of your life. Giving yourself that permission to ask for help, embracing your emotional process, and engaging in a meaningful journey to mental health is the true route to contentment in life. 

Taking a Time Out

Our schedules are so incredibly busy – whether it’s our roles (workers, parents, caregivers), our responsibilities (exercising, planning, eating 3 meals/day, keeping up with friends and family), or our circumstances (managing all of the above in a health pandemic, or while caring for an aging parent), you might find yourself too strapped for time, energy or resources to breathe. Much less ask for help! We often tell children and adolescents to take a time out when they become emotionally flooded or aren’t able to regulate their behaviors, but what about adults? We personally wish more adults took time-outs because if we did, we might begin to recognize the flaws in our packed routine and where it might not be serving us. Taking a timeout helps us to gather an inventory of what is going well, what could be better, and what we make of it all. 

It is so challenging to stop when hard work and a busy schedule are all we know.  But what would it look like if you had the resources to ask for help? Would you make the time? Would you use your energy in the short term to pay off the long term? These are tough questions that adults across the world ask themselves, all whilst battling the internal voices that tell us “I’m fine”, “everyone deals with this”, or “things aren’t so bad”. 

The Ripple Effect: The Impact of Individual Therapy

As mental healthcare practitioners, it is our philosophy and our responsibility to meet clients exactly where they are in their growth process. A technique used in some individual therapy sessions is called motivational interviewing, which encourages both the counselor and the client to assess where they are in the stage of change process for any issue. We will use this structure to explain the benefits of choosing to seek help through individual therapy and the resulting ripple effect in your life.

woman looking worriedPrecontemplation

This stage of change is considered the step before you know a problem is a problem or that you need help. Many people occupy this space for days, months, or years, unaware of the damage occurring within or around them. You might call this “ignorance as bliss.” When we don’t know something needs to change, we still perhaps might feel it somewhere within. After all, our body usually is the first to tell us when we are in a state of (di)stress.


During this season, we start to become aware of the toll our mental health is taking on our work, our body, and our livelihood – usually, this will manifest in multiple areas of our life, not just one (e.g., workplace, home, social relationships). This can take a while as we bargain sacrifices, consequences, boundaries, and relationships that might be affected as we take charge of our mental health journey. When we contemplate change, we start to give our bodies and minds the peace and dignity it’s been asking for by finally slowing down.


So you’re ready to make a commitment, in this case, beginning your mental health journey by seeking individual therapy. You are likely researching a provider, asking friends for referrals or recommendations, Google searching what therapy entails (and costs), gathering insurance information, and determining how therapy aligns with your budget and time constraints. You start to think about what feels manageable, although fear might still be present.


Congratulations, here is where the ripple starts. Not even after your first session, but in scheduling it. In making yourself a priority. In recognizing and respecting what your mental health needs are. It’s not easy, but you’ve got here. You’re doing the work you’ve needed and you feel relief! This action stage persists anywhere from weeks, months, or years, depending on the level of care needed. Springing into action will eventually start to feel good as you uncover truths, grieve, recover, and heal.


Everything else is maintenance. By everything else, we mean the life events that follow once you’ve terminated therapy with your counselor. Maybe you felt scared to leave, or dependent on the space to cope or understand yourself, but you’re ready to take what you’ve learned and apply it. This might mean check-ins with your therapist once every few months to workshop some challenging emotional content, or perhaps you experienced a major event or trauma that needs attention. Either way, you are maintaining the balance you found in all those stages before. You should be proud of yourself.

Man sitting in stairs smilingIndividual therapy near White Lake, Michigan

No matter where you are in the “stages of change,” if you’re here in White Lake, Michigan, or elsewhere across the state, New Perspective Counseling Center wants to be there to support your journey. If that means beginning with the collection of wisdom we’ve uploaded to our blog, that’s great! The road to wellness is paved with small steps.  

For more on how individual therapy can work for you and your busy schedule, visit us at