04/20/2009 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

10 Secrets I've Learned about Being a Happier Woman

Being happy and reaching a place of well-being is a challenge we all face, no matter how great our lives and no matter how tough our obstacles are. With headlines proclaiming our financial institutions near ruin, the divorce rate at an all-time high, job loss an always-present threat, it's hard to escape the pervasive fear that obstacles to our happiness surround us.

Being happy starts with staying in the present, keeping out of the "what-if" mode we can all slip into and doing everything we can to make the most of our day--minute by minute if need be.

What follows are some of the secrets I've picked up along the way to help me personally stay on track. None of them work unless I remind myself of the things that are most important in my life so I offer you this challenge: Remind yourself to be grateful--grateful for your good health (if you've just been laid off); grateful for the love of your family (if you've just been given a challenging diagnosis); grateful for your new promotion (if your best friend just got fired); and so on. Grateful. It may not be easy, but if you look for it, you'll find something to be grateful about. Before you keep reading, what is that one thing for you?

For me there are five things to focus on:
1. Get back in your body and out of your head
2. Allow yourself to be human, feel every emotion fully, including those you try to avoid
3. Focus on you being happy and do what you really want
4. The world needs gentleness, you must start with yourself
5. Be completely okay with making mistakes and not being right all the time

And there are five things to let go of:
1. Let go of the feeling that you are "missing out"
2. Let go of the feeling that you are "behind," late with something that hasn't happened yet
3. Let go of the feeling that your "life isn't working"
4. Let go of the feeling that you aren't "good enough"
5. Let go of the feeling that someone else has more than you

All of these negative feelings act like massive brakes in our lives. The only way to lift the brake is to release these feelings. Become aware of when one of these has you under its grip. Notice it, detach from its influence and do not follow that pat to a negative emotion. Do not entertain its influence over you. When you free yourself from these brakes, you will find yourself on the road to greater happiness.

Being a happier woman starts with believing happiness is a choice, not an unattainable state of being. It is important, now more than ever, for us to stay in our own skins, to remain centered, kind and true to ourselves. We can feel fear. We can be sad. But suffering is optional. Choose not to suffer. No more drama, no more big story as to why you can't be happy yet. Be happy now.