Happiness isn’t a constant state of being no matter what anyone tries to tell you. However, it is something to be enjoyed, not feared, when the moment strikes.

For years, happiness made me uneasy. After losing five people in my life in one year (including a friend and my mom) when I was in high school, I felt like happiness was something that couldn’t be trusted. I repeated this cycle after I was treated for cancer at 24. We convince ourselves that it’s safer to feel a few notches below happy and slightly above sad. This is no way to live, but it’s a common condition. I believe it’s called “waiting for the other shoe to drop.”

Thankfully, about ten years ago, I decided to say “what the hell” and be happy anyways. In the beginning, my mind would try to cycle through all of the reasons I had to be stressed or fearful, but over time, I was able to ease into a level of comfort with joy and fun that I hadn’t known since childhood. I should be honest and say that it was inspired by my first self help bender and involved repeating affirmations such as “all is well, I am safe, everything is as it should be” a lot. Like, constantly. But that crap works. I still have my moments, but switching to a place of peace has become automatic.

Find what works for you and allow yourself to be happy. Breathe into it when it makes you feel anxious, find affirmations that work for you, pray. The most important thing is to accept it and find peace with happiness. It gets way easier over time. Enjoy!