Are we there yet? I want to be happy. Everyone I know wants to be happy. So why aren’t we? Studies show that only 1 in every 3 people consider themselves ‘very happy’ in the United States.

Turns out we are looking for happiness in all the wrong places. Happiness for most of us means that our ‘dream life’ has shown up, or we land the great job, find the perfect partner, purchase the new car, or get a kitchen remodel (please).

According to experts, happiness is not sustainable by buying or acquiring ‘things’. Which, from personal experience is true. I go shopping to get happy. I find something to buy that I love. I am happy– for about 5 minutes. That is why we keep returning to the shopping mall, hoping that this time the five minutes of bliss will last. But, it never does. Happiness is an inside job. A state of mind. A consistent return to a new way of thinking and throwing out the old outdated beliefs about happiness.

To get to the bottom of how to find and stay happy I found a hot Brazilian to set us straight. Lucky for me Rodrigo Baena is a certified Happiness & life coach, author, speaker and founder of the Portland Happiness Center (!) Rodrigo has seen much of the world. He has observed, and surveys confirm this, that the Pacific Northwest, where he now lives and conducts business, has one of the highest percentages of unhappy people than anywhere else. At first, he wondered if it could be the weather. Granted, we do have long drawn out- dreary- rainy- dark- days- many- months a year. However Denmark, a remarkably colder climate, has one of the highest percentages of happy people.

Being a certified life coach, he dug deeper and determined the cause of unhappiness. According to Rodrigo, it comes down to a few common issues most people face and struggle with mastering, namely, communication and doing ones inner work. “I see so many people, mostly men, who have a wound, covered up that they don’t address. Once, through the coaching process, we take the ‘scab’ off the wound, get to the bottom of why they are in pain, and heal from the inside out, their happiness level increases, and their relationships improve,” Rodrigo observed.

As a writer in the middle of my next book called The Healing Matrix- Healing Emotional Wounds, I was awestruck that we both have come to the same conclusion. Through my work as a Nurse, columnist, and interviewing thousands of people, it is my observation—being intuitive helps—that the wounds people are carting around are the biggest obstacle in achieving their desire for love, happiness and intimate emotional relationships. Men share with me their confusion and loneliness around inability to sustain a close relationship. But do not despair. There is hope for becoming happy more often. Happiness it turns out, can be like a light—turned on, with some training and healing. Learn strategies to get out of the dark days of unhappiness and shine like the bright light that is your destiny.

For strategies and solutions about how to become happy from the inside out, see the upcoming Happiness Episode on Diane TV’s Inspired Conversations. For coaching services and workshops visit the Happiness Center.