You’ve probably seen social media posts that state if you choose to be happy, you will be. While this may work in some circumstances, it can make someone who’s struggling feel worse. You can’t force yourself to be happy and you can’t always flip a switch to discover joy. Why? Because most of the time, sadness is a symptom of something that isn’t working in your life.

I’ve faced physical limitations most of my adult life. Does this mean I can never be happy? No. What it shows me is that I need to find different ways to foster my mental well-being. And, instead of being too hard on my body, I’ve learned to be grateful for how hard my body works to allow me to do what I can.

Figure out what isn’t working in your life. See a doctor to treat or rule out medical issues. Apply for jobs you think are a better fit. Establish new friendships. Explore interests you are passionate about. Make yourself a priority and whatever brings you joy, do it. Even if you take small steps, you’re working toward a direction that will bring you more satisfaction.

Focus on what’s right in your life. We are all given assets that help us to survive our challenges (see “You have what you need to thrive”). Becoming aware of what is working is powerful medicine as the power of gratitude can be astounding.

Comparing your life to others is fruitless. You may think your neighbor has it better than you: They have a bigger house, a boat and a seemingly close-knit family. But what you don’t see is the long, exhausting hours the parents work to sustain their lifestyle. Or the guilt they feel about missing this precious time with their kids. It can be easy to think that everyone has it better than you do. Most times, you’ll never know what their obstacles are. Quite simply, it’s rare for someone to always have a life of ease, prosperity and joy.

Please don’t keep suffering without finding a solution. You’re meant to be able to find joy and, to do that, you need to find the peace within you. It will come from within, when you nurture your true spirit and feed it with respect and love.