Build A Happier Future: Part 2 Of Creating A Life Program


Chart your road map to happiness, Lisa Duffy advises

In my previous post, we discussed creating a life program. So did you take that first step toward changing your life?

If you did, congratulations! How do you feel about the way you’ve described yourself when you are completely happy? Motivated to get to that place, I hope, because your new life program will take you there!

So here is the second step in creating your program:

Now that you have defined happiness for yourself, you need to create a road map, as I call it, that will give you a realistic and effective plan to reach that happiness.

One point that’s important to remember as you begin this step is that your life program is not meant to stress you out. I know life is busy, especially for single people, and your program should be a vehicle toward happiness, not a weight you bear on your shoulders, so keep this in mind as we go through these steps.

Begin by making a list of the five biggest obstacles to you being the happy person you’ve described. But the key is to identify the things in your life that you can control. “Being divorced” is not something you can necessarily change unless you reconcile with your spouse so, although it is something you might want to change, it is a problem that needs to be broken down into smaller parts.

“Being angry about my divorce” would be something more within your control, or “always fighting with my ex-spouse” is another example. But take time to really reflect on these things that are causing you to be unhappy and write them down.

Now you may find that by the end of this exercise, you have made a list that consumes an entire sheet of paper. This is fine, but then you need to pick the five most important obstacles you want to work on. Narrow the list down to the five points you feel are most important to address, because otherwise you will be overwhelmed and risk becoming discouraged.

Simplicity is the key.

Here is an example of what your list might look like:

Obstacles to happiness:

1.  I fight with my ex-spouse and I feel terrible afterward. 
2.  My child is angry with me and won’t talk to me.
3.  I have a deep resentment toward one of my co-workers.
4.  I want to have a better relationship with God, but I don’t really practice my faith.
5.  I’ve dated, but know I’m not ready for a relationship yet and I find that depressing.

These are all things that will certainly get in the way of you being a happy individual, but are quite often never really identified or addressed. They simply become burdens to bear, and many people do not no how to deal with them or get past them.

I encourage you to take time to make your list thoughtfully, and of course while in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament if at all possible. And then we will tackle step three. Count on my continued prayers for you!



  1. Lisa Duffy
    Lisa Duffy January 18, 2012 Reply

    Dear Stephen,

    Normally for a discussion like this where personal details enter in, I would encourage you to converse with me via email, however, I know there are others who are frustrated by the annulment process so I think it’s appropriate for our discussion to continue on this forum.

    If you are being honest about what’s happening with your annulment case, then there is more to the story that you are not being included in – hence all the excuses you’ve been given about why you’ve not yet received your decree of nullity.

    But to underscore my point in my previous comment, what’s happening at the tribunal is out of your control. God allows these things to happen to us in life, much to our dismay, and because He will never take away a person’s freedom of choice you are suffering the consequences of someone else’s choice to slow down the process. But the more important point is that God always uses these circumstances to your benefit. So my suggestion to you, my friend, is to let go. Release your grip on trying to control the process. Let it happen as it will and in the meantime, focus on God. Make God the center of your life, not that piece of paper.

    I encourage you to reflect on the gospel of Mark, chapter 10 and about the blind beggar, Bartimaeus. There are so many lessons to be learned from this story, but what I find striking is this: Bartimaeus had nothing, not even eyesight. He begged for a living. The only thing he owned, really, was his clothing. How important was that to him? It was everything! It protected him, comforted him, sheltered him. Yet, when Jesus called him… he cast it off. He threw it away. Nothing was more important than that call from Christ.

    Let go. Let God work your circumstances out and work them for your good. Maybe He’s asking you to stretch your virtuous muscles right now and work on trust, patience, fortitude, etc. I don’t claim to know what He’s asking of you, simply that He’s allowing these circumstances to take place and since you cannot control them, focus on what you can control. You and your relationship with Him.

    Sincerely – Lisa

    • Stephen-725391 January 18, 2012 Reply

      Lisa, Would like to thank you again for your insight and heart felt concern. I need to get my daughter and drive her to school and it’s snowing. Look forward to Part 3 coming out tomorrow. Thank you again.

  2. Stephen-725391 January 12, 2012 Reply

    Lisa, The senior law partner where I first practiced law told me – If you want it done right, do it yourself. Obviously, that applied as you have stated – to things that you have control over. My divorce is only one part of the destruction of my life. The point – I academically know/understand the distinction you have made.

    Over the past 15 years, TRUST has been destroyed. So, TRUST is the obstacle. Fortunately, 15 years ago via a strange logic, I re-embraced the Faith (remember that) and notwithstanding the collapse of my life believe that it is God’s plan. Now, I got a feeling that you are saying – well then, what’s the problem – trust God’s plan and you’re in like Flint! Yeah, right! Seems that one of the Saint’s (can’t remember which one) said – Pray as is everything depends on God; Work like everything depends on you.

    I have very little trust in the the Institutions in the hands of men – the Church (not the faith), the state, the courts, the financial, the business, etc. In particular (current issue), the Tribunal and my advocate, who has stated that I act like the Tribunal is my enemy. Stone-walling and lack of transparency leaves me no choice.

    Trust is the obstacle – how can that be broken down to move forward?

    • Lisa-727959 January 15, 2012 Reply

      Dear Stephen,

      Great question and I think many people these days feel the way you do – for different reasons, but the same sentiment – that trust is hard to come by. But to answer your question, I believe the break-down is simple and is embodied in the saint’s statement you quoted… Faith in God’s providence and personal responsibility go hand-in-hand.

      Just to use an example, my eldest daughter auditioned yesterday for a performing arts school she wants to attend next year. I made her practice piano for two hours every day for the last two weeks because I wanted her to be as prepared as possible. But on our way to the audition, we stopped at our parish’s Adoration Chapel and made a visit to thank God for the talent He gave her and the opportunity she has, but then to offer the result of the audition to Him with detachment from our desires and acceptance of His Will. We placed our faith in Him that whether she is accepted to the school or not, we will be at peace with the decision because we placed it in God’s hands and know that He works all things for the good for those who love Him.

      That’s the key to happiness in life, in my opinion. I hope this helps and I look forward to any other questions.
      So while we need to work and be responsible for what we can control, we have to leave what we cannot control up to God and begin seeing His will for our lives through those things we cannot control.

      • Stephen-725391 January 16, 2012 Reply

        Lisa, Thank you so much for your very thoughtful answers. Relating to me your daughter’s audition lends a point of context to a pivotal matter now working in my life. While the scenario I describe may seem strange but is transpiring, for as they say, truth is stranger than fiction. Please bear with me.

        Your daughter performs very well, so well in fact that the Dean of the School is absolutely certain she will be accepted and makes inquiry to the Auditioning committee to determine the official status of your daughter’s admission. The Dean is TOLD that the admissions letter has been written and signed. This information is given to you by the Dean, however, you can not do anything until you have physical possession of that letter in your hand. You are told that the letter is lacking only an envelop and stamp so that it can be mailed. You wait, time goes by, no letter. You contact the Dean, he assures you that he has seen the letter and it will be mailed but has just learned that there are no envelopes in which to put the letter, but as soon as they have envelopes it will be mailed. This same go-around occurs for the stamps and placing in the post box etc. with assurances made, fowl-ups, a little head way, ad nauseum . In fact, you have seen the letter BUT it can not be given to you because the protocol for it to be valid requires that it be delivered by mail.

        What do you say to your daughter?

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