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By Dr Michelle Gannon – a Psychologist specializing in Relationships, Wellness and Women’s Issues. She writes at Dr Michelle Gannon and Marriage Prep 101

I realize that times are tough for many people, yet as an optimistic person I will go out on a limb, and say, “You are responsible for your own happiness. You deserve to be happy… Take charge of your mood”.

What does it really mean to be happy? When you think of yourself and your life, are you being the person you want to be? Are you living a life that brings you joy and pleasure? Do you have satisfying relationships? Are you living your life according to your values and priorities? And if not… why not? Let’s see if we can make some changes together.

Like every other working mom, I feel stressed and pressured in my life. So much to do…Never enough time. As a psycholologist, I take care of people in my professional life, and as a mother/wife/daughter/friend I take care of others the rest of the time too. I lean towards perfectionism and workaholism, and I had an epiphany a few years ago when I turned 40 years old.

I do not need to be perfect. Actually perfectionism is over-rated. I need to be “good-enough”. Of course, I still try to do my best in whatever I do, but the difference is I am much kinder and more compassionate with my own flaws. When I think of my friends or clients sharing their imperfections, I am loving, kind and accepting towards them. I used to be much more judgmental and critical with myself than others. However, I realized that I need to be a better friend to myself. When my inner critic’s voice appears, I ask myself, “What would I say to a friend?” and I turn around and tell myself the same supportive message.

Many of us believe that in order to be the best wife, mother, employee or friend that we need to be self-sacrificing. Interestingly, that does not work. To take care of others, you need to first take care of yourself. Starting now, give yourself permission to make you the focus in your life for a change. If you take time and effort to nurture and refuel yourself, you will become a better partner, mother, friend, worker and more. We have to prioritize taking care of ourselves especially if we need to take care of others.

When we think back to times in our life where we were the most happy and content, we can sometimes find keys to improve our present day happiness. What was happening then that we may have forgotten, overlooked or misplaced now? Are you happiest when you have personal time with others? Do you need more solitude or creativity outlets? Are you most happy when you are learning or exploring? Are you happiest when you feel healthy and strong in your body? Are you happier when you get more sleep? Are you happiest when you have more fun? Are you happiest when you have more romance?

I was hiking the other day with a good friend and our dogs. My friend has three children, and one of them is severely autistic. She is usually in a positive, sunny mood although her life is certainly not easy. When I asked her how does she do it? How does she stay so positive and happy? She calmly replied, “Yes, life is challenging, but I just prefer to live in the positive”. She has chosen to have a positive, happy attitude. Sometimes I think we are too loyal to our suffering. Yes, we need empathy and support, but sometimes we also need a gentle kick in the pants.

I propose that we make a commitment to support each other in becoming more happy and content with our lives. Let’s act the way we want to feel. One step at a time…let’s take charge of our moods – We all deserve to be happy.

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Dr. Michelle Gannon is a Clinical Psychologist, Relationship Expert and Couples Workshop Leader. She leads Hold Me Tight Workshops for Couples at for ALL Couples with Dr. Sam Jinich, who is also a Clinical Psychologist, Relationship Expert and Couples Workshop Leader.

Dr Gannon has been featured on CBS Early Show, TIME, PEOPLE, Huffington Post, Women's Health, Evening Magazine TV, Ronn Owens Radio Show, San Francisco Chronicle, and many other newspaper, magazine, radio and TV shows.  She loves helping individuals and couples in her San Francisco private practice and works from an Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) and Attachment Theory perspective.

For more information, please visit and

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This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Just want to say your article is striking. The clarity in your post is simply striking and i can take for granted you are an expert on this subject. Well with your permission allow me to grab your rss feed to keep up to date with forthcoming post. Thanks a million and please keep up the ac complished work. Excuse my poor English. English is not my mother tongue.

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