The happiness balance

Every day of our lives is a constant battle to rebalance the good with the bad so we can live satisfying, empowering, happy lives.


However, this is not always easy, for example, if you woke up late this morning and realised there was no milk so everyone had to have dry cereal. Then halfway through the school run, your son reveals he actually has sports day that day so you have to turn around to go back home to get him changed, making you late for the school drop-off and your own work. 

Now as difficult as these days are, they do not happen every day. But the fact is these days will happen whether we like it or not. As a working mum of two, I know this to be true! They are completely unavoidable but that’s OK as the secret is to know how to deal with them.

Psychologist Allen Kanner put forward the theory of daily hassles and uplifts. He believed that throughout our day our happiness level is decided by the balance we have between negative and positive experiences. For example, if your son arrives home with a picture he has painted you at school, it will make you feel positive and proud. But arriving home to find your washing machine has flooded the kitchen will not. Kanner theorised that as long as we have an equal balance of negative and positive experiences throughout our day, we will feel neutral. If we have more positive ones we will feel happy, and with more negative ones, we can feel stressed or low. This theory makes some sense but it has been largely criticised for its simplicity, such as, what if the impact of the experience is not equal? Receiving a finger painting is nice, but having a flooded kitchen, a large bill for a new machine, and an ever-growing mountainous pile of dirty pants is a living nightmare!

Recently, Roy Baumeister has developed a new perspective on Kanner’s original theory. In his research, he has found that experiences are not equal. As humans, we often have a negative cognitive bias which is when we tend to focus on negative information rather than positive. This is absolutely normal and has been developed throughout our evolution as a defence mechanism as weariness and caution are more evolutionarily safe than risk-taking behaviours. This does mean though that we are much more affected by negative experiences. Baumeister theorised that for every one negative experience, we require three positive ones in order to rebalance us back to neutral!

This may seem like a difficult task, but it actually is possible! Here are some tips and techniques that help to rebalance your happiness.

1. Pay attention to the positive aspects of your day

One of my favourite activities I set as an assignment between empowerment coaching sessions is to ask clients to note down positive aspects of their day; either before bed or throughout the day if they wish. What I often find in the exercise is that people will be shocked at how many amazing, inspirational, and uplifting events they actually experience every day, but they just hadn’t been noticing or paying attention to them!

2. Try to find the silver lining to negative experiences.

In my example of the terrible morning school run, I didn’t include that the sun was shining, the lady had a good day at work, and the child won a medal on his sports day! This is because they are so easy to forget when you are stressed. The ability to shift and alter our perception is a huge advantage when improving our emotional and mental health and is described further in my article "Why we should try to always look on the bright side of life". 

3. Create your own positive experiences.

We don’t have to passively wait for good things to happen. If you have had a bad day - do something nice for yourself. It doesn’t have to be extravagant or expensive, simply watching an episode of your favourite television show or having a bath can really lift your mood. Self-care is a largely underused technique as people often feel selfish, but taking care of your own mental and physical health is equally as important as looking after your loved ones as I described in my article, The Frozen phenomenon.

I hope you have found this article useful and if you have any questions or would like more advice on increasing your levels of happiness, contentment, and overall emotional empowerment please contact me because as they say “enjoy the little things” because they really do all add up!

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Life Coach Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

Share this article with a friend
Rayleigh, Essex, SS6
Written by Rosslyn Whellams, BSc in Psychology and a Diploma in Emotional Health Coaching
Rayleigh, Essex, SS6

My name is Rosslyn Whellams and I am an Empowerment Coach and Psychology Teacher living in Rayleigh, Essex. I offer in person or online affordable, effective and tailored individual Empowerment Coaching as well as set courses and programs. My goal is to help my Clients improve their lives by finding and increasing their Emotional Empowerment!

Show comments

Find a coach dealing with Happiness coaching

All coaches are verified professionals

All coaches are verified professionals