The definition of happiness, according to the dictionary, is: ‘favorable course of circumstances’. This means that, in order to be happy, you have to experience a favorable course of circumstances. Sounds doable. But when are you able to consider yourself a happy person? Are you happy when you experience happiness?

There are a variety of tests that determine whether you are happy or not. There are also several psychological articles describing the circumstances and events you must experience in order to be  happy. Yet this kind of happiness is not explicit enough, for example being able to enjoy the little things in life is not included in this theory. If I think about it now, I can consider myself a happy person. I have a nice family, nice friends, I have a job and a house. I have many hobbies that I can enjoy and soon I will go on holiday. But do these things make me a happy person? Happiness is in my point of view a very difficult concept and not so easy to describe.

A lot has happened and changed for me in 2017. Although it is difficult to let go control and break routines, I knew that I needed to do that in order to be happy again. My relationship ended, I moved and started to live alone. In addition, I left my current employer and started to exercise again. Although some of these points may have been hard at the start, eventually I started to see them more positively. I had underestimated the power of exercise for a long time. I often felt too tired, did not want to leave the house and thought I did not have the strength to train. I slowly started to pick up working out in October 2017, I started running again. As a kid I used to do a lot of sports, I really liked triathlon training. A sport where you swim, cycle and run and all of that in a row. Now that I was picking up working out again, I realized how much I missed it.

Working out is addictive. I used to train a lot in the regional selection and I really enjoyed it. I was never not in the mood to train! Also, I do not feel well physically when I cannot exercise. I do not feel fit and I feel disappointed when I look in the mirror and see my fit body slowly disappearing. I miss the feeling of satisfaction and enjoying the nature. So last October, it was time to choose for myself and I started to work out again. And you know what!? It worked. Slowly I started to feel better and fitter. I started to love myself again!

Of course, happiness is more than just that. And if you have a depression, it is very difficult to enjoy the little things. It is very difficult to see the positive, if you only experience negative things. Nevertheless, happiness can be found in the little things. Since I started to exercise again, I experience more positivity. And that is not surprising at all, during sports, you activate different neurotransmitters, some of which contribute to your happiness level. Research has shown that running can have a positive effect on your mental health, so it is ideal for people who suffer from depression. I also have experienced that running, or exercising in general, helps.

Next to starting to work out again, I also have new work, my fitness level increased and I will leave for a training internship in Lanzarote in a few days. Of course, exercising is not a magic pill, but it certainly contributes to your happiness. I also have off days and sometimes I feel like I am losing it. But then I try to teach myself to look for positive things. I think of the things that I do have and how grateful I am that I can, for example, exercise and that I have learned so much in recent times. And do not forget, even people who do not suffer from depression have their down moments. Every person has setbacks, but that is not bad at all. Setbacks make you stronger!

Love, Sharon 

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Sharon Zuijdervliet

Experience expert in depression. I hope that I can help others, through my story, and let them (re)discover their love for sports. More about me? Go to

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