Finding Happiness
Sky Dancer in Training

Finding Happiness

“Happiness”, it’s this thing everyone talks about – like it’s an unattainable thing.

Something elusive, which only a small percentage of people seem to enjoy – an exclusive and select group that must only be happy because they live in X country, own X items, have X job, X people in their lives, etc… etc…

The reasons, excuses and theoretical jargon we hear all the time, from those who are unhappy, is nothing more than “jargon”. We all have the ability to be happy, whether we have the perfect job, perfect family, house, or not. Whether we’re living the high life, or not. Or whether we’re having problems right now, or not…

Happiness is not that euphoric feeling we all feel after an achievement – happiness isn’t triumphant…

Happiness is steady, solid, unwavering and peaceful.

True, real happiness is being happy, even when things aren’t going smoothly.

Happiness is always with you, even when you’re battling a challenge. That’s not to say that you won’t feel unhappy, but you won’t hit rock bottom, or feel utterly depressed if you realise that it isn’t a fluke — happiness is easily achieved, through daily practice, and will be with you every day, like a best friend.

Happiness is a choice — when you wake up; and you go through your daily rituals, ask yourself the big question – “How do I decide to feel today?”

We all have problems and battles we deal with day in and day out. But while going through your own personal battle, there are moments of calmness, peacefulness, and in those moments… in the lulls, that’s when you can find your happy place.

Look up at the sky, and find something to smile about. Pause and look around you, and smile at something. Just smile. Think to yourself how lovely something looks. Smile at someone you pass – do something which a happy person would do. Appreciate what’s around you right now.

Smile at everything you can – appreciate everything you’re able to do. Have you just gone and bought a coffee? Did you drive to work? Did you walk somewhere? Smile. Because you can, and you did something – smile because you woke up this morning, got out of bed and started your day. Appreciate every small step, every single thing you’ve done today…

Look within – and find something to smile about that’s around you – do this every moment you remember to – and if you can’t remember to do it, add a reminder to your phone, or calendar, computer… write it on a sticky note and put it on your bedroom door…. anywhere you can to help you get into the habit of smiling and taking a second to appreciate something you see, or have done…

Happiness is a daily choice. Every time you wake up, you have a momentary decision – are you going to be happy today, or not?

Being happy doesn’t mean you won’t be unhappy, and happiness isn’t a flakey feeling – it shouldn’t disappear, even though you’re having problems. It should just always be there, under the surface. So when you’re finding something difficult, you just need to look, smile, appreciate, and you’ll feel happy.

Every time you feel happy, your problems will feel smaller, and less significant and more conquerable.

There are hundreds of fun, happy songs you can listen to. Feeling sad, down, depressed and flat? Put one on. Be obvious and play “Happy” by Pharrell Williams. Go and get some dance music – and let the music’s happy beat take you out of your dark place.

If you can’t find happiness – then go and exercise, go for a run, go and draw something, but most of importantly, do something. Stop thinking and feeling unhappy, and do something with yourself, then appreciate what you’ve done. It can be big, or small. The size of the action you’ve taken isn’t the important part – but that you enjoy it, wholeheartedly, and smile at all the steps you did, to achieve it.

The fundamental part of finding happiness is to stop looking for it to knock you sideways and to find yourself brimming with joy. That’s ecstaticness – not happiness. Happiness is a habit of enjoying every moment, thing and person in your life, whether you’re having the time of your life, or the battle of your life.

Happiness isn’t something to be found, it’s there – you have it in you, but you’re not looking for it, and you’re not appreciating what you have around you.

When you stop thinking it’s unattainable, and stop hoping that something, or someone will give you happiness, that’s when you’ll find it. But most of all, find joy in everything you do, in everything you see and have.

Stand and stare in amazement at something – that’ll make you happy. When you feel it, hold onto it, melt in the feeling, and bring it with you when you appreciate something else.

Happiness, like most things in life, is a decision, a choice – it is as attainable as getting a glass of water. If you’re thirsty, what do you do? You get a glass of water. Like it’s no more complicated than walking over to the kitchen sink with a glass and filling it up.

Feeling unhappy?

Decide to be happy. It’s a choice, it’s your choice, and only you have the ability and power to really make yourself happy.

Sure, somebody, or something can make you feel happier, but it isn’t the same as true, deep, solid, unwavering, calm, happiness.

Sky Dancer in Training

It’s been a busy summer, and hitting this incredibly autumny month has made me realise I haven’t written an update on Sky Dancer.

Sky Dancer is – a 5yr old, Thoroughbred x Irish Draft mare, which we bought as a youngster, so we could take her from scratch, and train her all the way up to whatever level we wanted.

For those who don’t know much about our horse-side – we spend a huge amount of time training horses, many of which are or have been youngsters, which we have trained from babies, using the Parelli Natural Horsemanship Training Method.

Sky Dancer was originally for my father, but with all his work commitments, he’s short on time, which leaves me with her training and part-ownership! Hooray for me! 😀

Sky Dancer’s Update


Over the summer months we worked quite hard together, to get in as much training and work as possible, before the dreadful rain hit and mud – so much mud!

Sky Dancer has flourished quite beyond belief – so here is a summary of what’s been going on…!

In Video

Here we’re riding out early one morning — surprisingly warm, even though it was foggy! We love these small country roads – they’re always full of surprises, from speedy tractors on a mission, to dogs, other horses and country-road traffic. Needless to say Sky Dancer takes it all calmly in her stride and is very steady.

A short video of us hacking out.

What I’ve done with Sky Dancer throughout her training is to take things slowly — this doesn’t mean she hasn’t progressed, but it means when we reach a certain level of training, the foundation is solidly built, which means she has all the right attributes you want in a horse which will go far.

Sky Dancer is, and continues to be steady, straight, safe, responsive to aids, subtle, light off the leg, and in the hands and is showing huge potential to be a remarkable competition horse from the training we’ve done with her to date.

In my opinion, Sky Dancer, is now quite a remarkable horse, not only with her natural abilities, but the additional natural horsemanship training side, has given her a finish that most would long for…

Take a look at the video below to see how her training has advanced to riding her in the school; walk, trot and canter, without a bridle.

Hopefully you can see from the video how responsive she is — it is always hard to demonstrate what a horse feels like through a video – and this type of work is far more difficult than it may look, as here, I am asking for the same amount of control Sky Dancer gives me when she has a bridle & reins.

So here you can see that she responds to my breath when I ask her to stop – turns when I twist / look, and goes up & down gaits without any bridle or rein pressure.

This training means she is incredibly responsive, something that is invaluable in competition, particularly a fast paced sport such as show jumping, where the accuracy of a horse is vital.

So….. a lengthy blog post, but I wanted to share with you how Sky Dancer has progressed with my rather borrowed time – she is coming on beautifully, and I know she will continue to progress and I can’t wait to share the next blog post with you all!

2 Videos of us on Exercise

Lastly — to give you just an idea of what we expect from our horses – here in these two videos where we are exercising the horses (most of which are between the ages of 3-5 years old). As you can see I am actually centering, whilst videoing the others in front of me.

To be able to do this I have to be able to trust my horse that it will maintain the pace, with 10684130_1462581080674062_422289375_nvirtually no contact as one hand is holding the camera, and more importantly, we generally only exercise them in rope-halters, which is what I’m using in the video in this case.

The horses are trained to respond to light pressure of a rope halter – far lighter than a bitless bridle, and there is no comparison to any form of bit, hackamore etc etc etc….

I hope this gives many of you an insight into a part of our lives that mostly goes unseen… and if you’re wanting to get into training, I urge you to check out Parelli – they are phenomenal!

Copyright © L'Estrange-Bell 2014.