Galen Pearl: 10 Steps to Finding Your Happy Place (and Staying There)

Today I am delighted to share energetic space with Galen Pearl.

“Happiness is a choice we make every moment. We can remember happy times in the past, and we can anticipate happy times in the future, but happiness can only be actually experienced in the present moment. So each moment is a new opportunity to choose. If we choose repeatedly to be happy, it becomes a habit, our default position. I think of it as resetting my Internet home page to my happy place.

By happy place, I don’t mean a place of unrelenting inner sunshine. I mean a place of refuge and spiritual sustenance. Of contented fulfillment. Home. A home that, like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, I never really left. A home that, whether we know it or not, we all live in together. In that sense, our habits become not the way to happiness, but rather the way of happiness. Then happiness becomes, as Buddha said, simply the way, and the way we live.” – excerpt from the introduction of  Galen’s  book “10 Steps to Finding Your Happy Place (and Staying There”).

Galen Pearl’s stories have appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul and A Cup of Comfort anthologies, and her popular blog, 10 Steps to Finding Your Happy Place (and Staying There), attracts thousands of readers every month. Recently retired from teaching law, she regularly leads retreats and workshops on developing habits to grow a joyful spirit. A Southern girl transplanted to the Pacific Northwest, she enjoys her five kids and two Unity Schmidt grandchildren, martial arts, her cabin in the mountains, and mahjong.

 J: Thank you, Galen, for sharing energetic space today!  May I ask, as we consider energetic space, might you share some of the things that consistently nourish that space?  

G: Thanks, Joy, I’m so glad to be here today.  How lovely to reflect on what nourishes my energetic space.  I have several practices that nourish my spirit. Most every morning begins with prayer and meditation, and inspirational reading.  I practice martial arts – taekwondo, kung fu, tai chi, and qigong.  Martial arts, to me, is meditation in motion.  Besides these practices, nature, and especially the mountains, fill me with energy.  I have a cabin in the mountains right on a creek.  I like to spend time there as often as I can.  And my family. Nothing lights up my spirit more than my grandson’s smile.

J: Beautiful, Galen!  I can feel the peace emanating from your words :)

Let’s start with the basics, if we may.  You are the founder of the site 10 Steps to Finding Your Happy Place (and Staying There). May you share with us a little about the meaning of these words and the vision for your site? 

G: To understand what these words mean to me, I have to go back a little.  The concept of “finding your happy place” is based on an incident a few years ago when my daughter told me that her very forlorn-looking friend was “looking for his happy place.”  The words caught my attention, and I realized with gratitude that I have found mine and that I live in it most of the time.  I reflected on the lessons I learned when I made a conscious decision years ago to change my life.  The 10 Steps embody those lessons that helped my transform my life from one based in fear to one filled with joy.

The title itself is a bit misleading (not intentionally!) in that the steps are not as linear and sequential as the title suggests.  Rather, they are habits that all lead to the same place, a place of calm abiding joy.  Living in our happy place doesn’t mean feeling happy all the time.  It does mean being rooted in joy that enhances our happy times and helps us be more resilient during life’s inevitable challenges.

My vision for my site is that it is a place where everyone is welcome, a place to pause and breathe, a safe place to share the voices of our spirits, which, at their deepest level, all sing the same song.

J: You so clearly have a specific message; may you share with us a little about how you found your voice, and how you continue to cultivate it as you create and connect? 

G: This question stopped me for a moment.  You observed that I so clearly have a specific message, but I had to think about what that is.  When I try to articulate it, words seem quite inadequate.  The song that our spirits sing seems more of a vibration, an energy, than something that can be voiced in the way we usually think of that term.  The word that jumped out at me from your question is “connect” and perhaps that is the key.  Everything that we do or think or say either manifests our deep connection or creates the misperception that we are separate.  So perhaps that is the message – oneness.

As for how I found my voice, or how anyone finds their voice, that seems to be a function of befriending ourselves, of facing our fears, of dropping our stories, of opening our hearts.  And once we find our voice, our natural impulse is to cultivate it. Although I began years ago to change my life, the last few years have blessed me with opportunities to write about these things, to lead retreats and make presentations, to read hundreds of books and blogs, to focus a lot of my attention and energy on “living in my happy place.”  These practices and principles so permeate my life at this point that I’m not aware of anything in particular that I do other than to try to live out of this place of alignment and connection.

J: When you are creating and doubt surfaces (does doubt surface?) what resources do you rely upon as you continue to create? 

G: Yes, doubt surfaces!  In fact, a couple of months ago, I found myself reacting to a sudden trauma with fear and efforts to control what I could not control. Apart from the incident itself, I was shaken by my reaction to it and doubts surfaced about whether I was able, in the heat of the moment, to “walk my talk.”  What I learned from this is that everything is workable, as the saying goes.  I saw that I had choices to make, and the most important one was to “re-choose” to believe in the basic goodness of the universe, to trust that everything was perfect.  I was grateful for the opportunity to practice non-judgment, compassion, and forgiveness.

The most important resources we have are right inside us.  Whatever we can find “out there” to guide us, in the form of counselors, wisdom literature, classes, faith communities, and so on, is valuable only to the extent that it awakens within us our trust in ourselves at that level where the universal energy (by whatever name you wish to call it) unites us.

J: May you share a bit with us about what you would consider is this source of your power?

G: A Course in Miracles says that “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.  Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”  Where does that power come from?  I read a wonderful analogy recently about putting water in bottles and throwing the capped bottles in the ocean.  The bottles are in the ocean, but the water is closed off and separated.  But if the bottles are open, the water pours into the ocean and becomes the ocean.

The source of my power is the same as the source of yours, and everyone’s. We can call it by different names and describe it in different ways, but that does not change its nature, any more than calling water by different names in different contexts or languages changes the nature of water.

The Tao Te Ching says:

The way that can be told is not the eternal Way

The name that can be named is not the eternal name

The nameless is the beginning of heaven and earth

The named is the mother of ten thousand things

That is where our power comes from – the nameless beginning of heaven and earth.

J: You have written a book “10 Steps to Finding Your Happy Place (and Staying There).  May you share with us a bit about your decision to write this particular book? 

G: Ah, an easy question!  The book grew out of my blog.  A number of people encouraged me to write the book.  My sister said that if I did, she would design the cover.  I did, and she did!  That is her lovely painting gracing the cover.

I also wrote the book as a way to support Edwards Center, an organization that serves adults with developmental disabilities, including my two sons who have autism.  My sons live in one of their group homes and work at one of their work sites.  Edwards Center is a wonderful organization.  All the proceeds from anything associated with the 10 Steps, whether through publishing or speaking, are donated to Edwards Center.

J: May you share with us a bit about the process of incorporating these steps into our life? How do you vision the reader applying the overall message and incorporating the individual steps?

G: To me, it’s important to have useful techniques that we can incorporate into our everyday lives.  Few of us have time to find an extra hour in the day or a weekend in the month.  If the techniques require us to separate ourselves from our everyday life, we won’t use them.  So the 10 Steps are about habits that we can build by consistent application of easy to remember and easy to use reminders and techniques.  These habits will change the way we think about ourselves and how we interact with our world and the people in it.  The point is to shift to a new “default” position or homepage so that we are rooted in joy. This joy will manifest through our thoughts and words and actions.

J: What might the reader expect to “takeaway” from the experience of this book, and how might this enrich their life? 

G: I hope it helps most of all by example.  I don’t have “the answer.”  Or rather, I do have it, and so do we all.  Living in our happy place is a worthwhile and attainable way to live.  We don’t need to go spend years with a guru on a mountaintop (although that is a fine thing to do if that is your path). What I have tried to show with my own story is that there are simple techniques for changing our habits, techniques that we can weave into our everyday lives.  And if we do, we’ll discover the happiness that has been within us all along.

J: If the reader felt overwhelmed with the idea of taking ten steps, what is first step you might recommend? 

G: I’m so glad you asked this question, because so many of us approach something like this by starting at the very beginning to put pressure on ourselves to get “better” and to get better fast!  It’s intimidating and overwhelming.  I’ve tried, I hope successfully, to reassure readers that we are all on this path together.  It’s not a race or a contest.  We all start where we are and wherever that is, is perfect.

Having said that, it’s fair to say that some steps are more challenging than others because some of them ask us to look more deeply at our fears–never a comfortable process!  So if you want to ease into some of the ideas, you might start with Step 9–Develop an Attitude of Gratitude.  There is nothing hard or scary about this.  It is all fun.  There are techniques you can use immediately and get an immediate benefit.

J: May you share with us, what has been a “memorable moment” for you, regarding the creation and publishing of this book? 

G: I’ll mention two.  The first is when I started my blog and my sister said that when I wrote my book, she would do the cover.  My sister is a very talented artist.  Her encouragement and support so early on was very meaningful to me. And she did as promised.  That is her lovely painting gracing the cover, which she also did the layout for.

The second is when I got my first copy of the book.  I called the editor and exclaimed, “It looks like a real book!”  I still couldn’t believe it.

J: Thank you for sharing your beautiful spirit!  In closing, may you share with us one of your “favorite” quotes on happiness? 

G: “There is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way.”  –Thich Nhat Hanh

I love this quote because it reflects happiness as a way of living, not as a destination or something outside ourselves.

My thanks to you and your readers for welcoming me here today.

Galen has generously gifted this site with a signed copy of her book “10 Steps to Finding Your Happy Place (and Staying There)”.  To win this copy, please answer the following question in the comment section.  The winner of the raffle will be chosen from the names of those who comment.  The drawing ends November 16th 9p (PST). The winner will be chosen then, and contacted through email.

**Tanya Levy is the winner of the signed copy of this book!  Congratulations, Tanya..and thank you to all who shared support of Galen through comments and the purchase of her book**

Question: May you share with us, what is your “happy place”, is this a feeling currently in your life, and what do you do to cultivate it (or how might you cultivate it moving forward)? 

Thank you, Galen!  Thank you, dear reader! *Excellent*, indeed!

Much peace and abundant love,


Reminder: Experiment.  Explore.  Experience.

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Comments on: "Galen Pearl: 10 Steps to Finding Your Happy Place (and Staying There)" (22)

  1. Dearest Joy:

    Thanks for this beautiful post about Galen’s work. My happy place is a place deep inside, a place of knowing and contentment. When I get too busy I forget it is there, like a wise, caring friend to support and walk beside me. To connect I meditate, write, breathe, just breathe and move. Love and light, Tanya

    • Thank you, Tanya, for your presence and for sharing such a beautiful visual of your *happy place*!

      I love the feel of this: ” like a wise, caring friend to support and walk beside me”. How refreshing and empowering to know that is ever-present, waiting patiently for us to connect, as we are, in every moment. Beautiful!

    • Tanya, Like Joy, I love your image of a wise, caring friend. You are never alone in your happy place.

  2. jean sampson said:

    Hi Galen and Joy! Wow, that is a lovely cover! Your sister’s painting is just beautiful, Galen!

    My happy place is a place of centeredness, if I can use that word, inside of myself, in which I know I am fine and that life will support me in every way if I just hold fast to the present moment and approach it with love, joy, and trust.

    Congratulations on the publication of your beautiful book, Galen.

    • Thank you, Jean, for your presence :) I love that your eye went straight to the painting on the cover..knowing that you are an artist, my heart smiles that you share such kind words!

      Thank you for sharing the feel of your *happy place*. I find it interesting that like Tanya, you chose to use the word ‘support’…we are happy when we feel support. And, you include presence to love, joy, and trust…nutrients for our being.

      Combining your reflection with Tanya’s I feel layers of we overflowing “enoughness” :)

    • jean, I will pass your compliment on to my sister. Truly, having her painting on the cover is one of my biggest delights about the book. Every time I look at it, I am so grateful for her talent and her support.

      I think of my happy place as a place of grounding and centeredness, as you said. When I read your description, I feel and immediate sense of calm.

  3. Two of my most favorite women in conversation – how lovely! I especially liked this quote from the interview, “As for how I found my voice, or how anyone finds their voice, that seems to be a function of befriending ourselves, of facing our fears, of dropping our stories, of opening our hearts.” Those are such clear steps! I especially love the way Galen teaches through stories, which touch our heart and light up the path of happiness all along the way.

    • Thank you, Sandra, for your presence, and your kind words…this conversation feels as if we are all visiting together, amplifying spirit with our reflections :)

      And, I love how you chose the resonance of “friend”…much like Jean and Tanya chose support, love, and friend…what a beautiful theme, and one that has been a challenge in my life personally…until last year, I tended to give far more to world than to myself…so your reflection affirms the importance of “be-friending”. (Once I befriended myself–a daily practice–I found my voice/my path/*joy*)…

      Galen’s style of sharing resonates strongly with me as well; as does yours…you are both very wise and very similar in how you choose to share that wisdom!

  4. What a beautiful teacher! Thank-you for your connection to her an sharing it with your readers. To answer the Question: May you share with us, what is your “happy place”, is this a feeling currently in your life, and what do you do to cultivate it (or how might you cultivate it moving forward)? The “happy place” is simply a presence of love & happiness. The biggest shift came from the discovery of the The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle and the succession of further studies and people. The thousand petal lotus had been unfolding for a great many years and then – there “it” was – :0). To cultivate it is to move in that love, happiness AND acceptance and pray that it radiate to any and all that have contact; to deliberately broadcast positivity, hugs, affirmations and confirmations.

    • Ricky, I like the way you describe your happy place as not a place, but rather a presence. There are so many words and images we can use to describe that thin place that really has no name.

      • “that thin place that really has no name” – beautiful :0)

        • Thank you, Ricky, for your presence. The imagery that you share of your happy place is so inviting! A presence, rooted in love, happiness, acceptance, and prayer; cultivated and amplified naturally through connection.

          I was raised with the belief that “heaven” was the absence of fear…it was taught, but didn’t resonate. What you reflect is the affirmation of my heart truth that “heaven” is *now*–this place of love and light, accessible as we are, with what we have–a *happy place*, indeed. Thank you :)

  5. I loved this book! “Happiness is the way” is a wonderful sentiment and something we can all learn to “be.” It’s true that we aren’t happy about every thing all the time, of course, but being able to come back to ourselves and our faith in those tense and trying moments is so important.

    • Thank you for your presence, Julie :)

      “Being able to come back to ourselves and our faith” is a wonderful reflection that also affirms Ricky’s words of presence. I love that we each have individual interpretations, yet there are similar themes woven throughout each :)

    • Julie, I’m so glad you liked the book. Sometimes a comment reflects back to me something I need to be reminded of, too. You comment did that for me today. Thank you.

  6. Joy & happiness,

    Thank you for sharing connections here that always turn me on to new and refreshing resources I might have otherwise never encountered… I loved this interview and Galen’s site. I plan on making a piece of art with her top ten list to serve as a reminder for all who enter my home, to return focus to recognizing happiness in every step of the way.

    You, Joy, have taught me solid, concrete ways to do this, through sharing your experiences of how you create in your life.

    I have to say that I have found my *happy place* by simply clearing away the gunk that has kept it hidden away in shadow… And I am still clearing away… The difference is, now I do it with a lighter heart. As I uncover more and more of my happiness, I discover that the quote that inspired me to create my recent website really IS true:
    “This magic place they’re talking about, it’s right inside of you – but you have to remember to visit it every once in a while and hold onto the sparkle, the specialness of yourself.” 
    And as I return to visit that space, inside myself, more often, the sparkle shines through everything I do and every thing I touch just a little more each day- and that is how magic happens in my life.
    I’ve been looking for my happy place for years- thinking it was a specific physical place, literally, thinking it was at least a “place” my life would be at where I could declare “happy at last”… But I’ve come to discover In this year that I have finally settled into a specific place and space- bought my first new home- and made some substantial changes in my life “plan” that it has so much less to do with where you are physically or even what stage of life you are in, what you’ve accomplished or achieved- and so much more to do with letting your unique light shine forth into the world. It’s about letting your sparkle and shimmer spread across everything and everyone you encounter- sharing the best you have- the best of yourself- in each moment, with your self first, and then with the world around you and everyone your life touches along the way.

    And you two women are a shining example of how doing just that- living your own bliss, visiting often and holding onto the sparkle, the specialness of you- lights up everyone’s world around you.

    And that is the truest form of happiness. Being love that radiates out to the world. Finding your heart and sharing it openly with yourself and the world.

    Thanks to you, I am just now learning “how” to live this way.

    In Love,


    • Molly, You touched on so many lovely and important things. Most of all, though, I would love a copy of your artwork when you get it done! Can’t wait to see it! Thank you for sharing your reflections about your happy place, both your search for your inner and your search for your outer place. Your comment reflects much inner wisdom. Thank you so much.

      • Thank you, Molly, for your presence…for your kind words and your reflection :) As Gail said, “your comment reflects much inner wisdom.”

        What stands out to me through your reflection is your plan for the art work. When I lived on the boat, which was a sacred place to me, a friend suggested I paint along the hull lines on either side of the boat “only love enters and leaves”. (I didn’t physically paint it, but I energetically felt and honored it). This is how I learned to allow my heart to be a sacred container–only love enters and leaves. I feel that your art piece symbolizes something along the same theme.

        I do feel that when you share you were “looking for your happy place for years” then found it when you chose to settle into “home” that many others can identify with that. Thank you for sharing something so openly that may inspire others as well :)

  7. Galen how empowering love what you have shared with Joy- your book sounds wonderful and I love your 10 steps I see you have on your website. Yes we have a choice about how happy we be. I have several Happy Places my top one is the beach where I always feel happy and so abundant. Be just still and meditation is another happy place for me.
    Thanks for who you be

    • Suzie, Yes, I love the coast here in Oregon, too. But if I have to choose, I’m more of a mountain person than an ocean person. I’m so lucky that Oregon has both! Isn’t it wonderful that nature provides something for everyone?! Like you, I also find great peace and joy in meditation. Thanks for commenting.

      • Thank you for your presence, Suzie, and for sharing your happy place.

        I love that you have an external happy place (the beach) and an inner happy place (meditation)…like you, I enjoy both. Like Galen, I enjoy having the ocean at my fingertips, and the nearby mountains to play in :)

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