To begin with, nothing (external) actually “makes” you confident and happy. We can only make ourselves (internally) confident and happy. When I started my first psychotherapy practice 30 years ago, I wasn’t confident in my abilities. To be honest, I probably wasn’t a very good psychotherapist! I was anxious and uncertain – certainly not happy. Over the years, with determination and experience, my confidence increased – as did my happiness. So the 2 are related – confidence and happiness – but not the same.

Confidence is constructed over time. It’s a faith-based initiative. When we have an expectation that we will do well, along with determination and a true intention to succeed, we set the stage for confident performance. The more I learned about my craft, and the more I took the risk of speaking my authentic truth, the more confident I became. Confidence can be viewed as a formula: a belief that you will succeed + the intention to learn and develop your skills + experience = confidence and competence.

Confidence is one ingredient of that other nebulous and misunderstood term: happiness. Personally, I’m most happy when I’m giving and receiving love. And I’m also happy when I’m confident in my work, when I’m listening to great music, watching first-rate movies and plays – and watching Hugo, our French Bulldog, running free with the other dogs at the beach on Sundays. Actually, just thinking about the much longer list of things that make me happy makes me happy! So that’s an important point: Happiness is more than a feeling or mood state – it’s a state of mind.

Happiness is a state of well-being. We create happiness when we live our lives with:

  • Meaning and purpose
  • Authenticity (being the highest version of your true self)
  • Gratitude
  • A belief in abundance
  • Challenging activity
  • Set and achieve realistic, meaningful goals
  • Close interpersonal connection with family and friends

One final thought about confidence and happiness: Life isn’t perfect, and we all experience loss and other painful events in our lives. Acceptance of these situations and feelings is an important key to recovery. When we let go of the struggle and focus on moving forward with confidence, we’ll be sure to experience happiness once again.