Being Happy and Content – John Lonergan and Caroline Crotty

The following are our notes from John Lonergan and Caroline Crotty‘s recent speech on Being Happy and Content at the National Cancer Survivorship Conference.

John talked about a definition for happiness, that might come from three things:

Have something in life to work for
Find your purpose – maybe it’s the day job, maybe it’s your support group – having a purpose or project will help you find your internal happiness.

Have something to dream for
Not winning the lotto! Having a dream for yourself and for your family. Maybe it’s a trip to visit a family member across the world. Dream about something and then fulfill it – achieving that dream will bring happiness.

Have somebody to love
Maybe it’s romantic or maybe it’s not. Having someone (or something) to love or give your love to can bring you great happiness.

Decide that your happiness is going to be right now. Not when. Now.

Talking and listening

Have someone in your life that you can talk to. Someone you can share your worries with. Offloading with someone is beneficial. You can be the listener but sometimes you also need to be listened to.

Letting go

Discover the importance of letting go. Letting go of blame, of squabbles, of regrets. They do not serve you. Let go and forgive. There’s no point living with anger. If you can’t forgive, you can’t be happy. Forgive yourself and forgive others. Let go of burdens on your shoulders – forgive them even if you feel you were wronged – the feeling of doing that will be immense. If you’re carrying things from the past, learn to let go of them. Get help with this if you need to. Tell someone how you are feeling.

Diet, sleep, exercise, relaxation and sunshine…

…the five keys to happiness. Caroline spoke about readily accessible information on our phones and on the internet and the importance of staying away from Dr Google. That it will be of no benefit. And also from the trap of scrolling and scrolling through people’s virtual lives on social media – lives that are not realistic. If you are looking at your phone or computer screens at night, it is affecting your sleep. Avoid screen time before bed and leave the phone out of the bedroom. Good quality night time sleep is crucial for your body to rest and rejuvenate.

Recall all the good things you have done in your life

Think about them and relive them, over and over again. And don’t keep reliving the troubles of yesterday. Don’t ruin today – yesterday is gone and today is all we have. Enjoy things.

Accept your reality. That is your starting point. Accept your reality and move forward from there.

Set attainable goals

If you want to be happy, set yourself attainable goals. Set yourself challenges, short-term, medium-term and long-term. Small or big. Achieve those goals and praise yourself for reaching your goal.

How do you talk to yourself? 

There is a constant internal dialogue in your head. What you say to yourself in your head is really important. Would you spend time with someone who talked to you the way you talk to yourself? And would you talk to someone else the way you talk to yourself? Don’t allow yourself the opportunity to talk badly to yourself.

Set yourself attainable goals, achieve them and praise yourself. And that way you are working to be a more happy person.

“Self-praise is no praise”

It’s a common indoctrination we are all familiar with. Let’s change this – if you’ve done well, praise yourself! You deserve it. Feel good about it.

Surround yourself with people who make you feel good… 

…and tell them. Tell them. Nurture and treasure your best friends. You’ll feel great when you give praise to yourself and someone else. And make sure you avoid whingers, at all costs. They’re out there in their thousands! They can ruin your day. Stay away!

Developing gratitude has long term benefits 

It can be as simple as sitting down every night and thinking of three things that you were grateful for that day. After 7 days, you have 21 positive things you appreciated during the week. It’s about what’s good about us, and those around us. Focus on your strengths. It’s a mindset – focus on the good in our lives as opposed to the things that have gone wrong. Focus on the precious present.

Forget about your weaknesses

Reconsider them as limitations. That’s a different way of looking at things. Put the focus on the things you are good at.

And finally…

Find the solutions to the things that are driving you crazy. Do nothing that you don’t want to do. Find solutions and feel the difference in your life. Treat yourselves. Get your hair done, get a manicure, a pedicure, a massage. Do things that make you feel good. And smile! A lot. Smiling is an amazing power.

For more information on John or Caroline, visit their websites: and

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