How to Be Happy Again
by Leah Mueller

  1. Forget everything you know. The sum of your resentments. Your sour, arms-crossed intransigence. The way your fangs gleam in the dark when you frighten yourself.
  2. Go somewhere different. Stay in the nicest hotel. Order hot fudge sundaes from room service and swim naked in the pool.
  3. Rearrange your emotional furniture. Throw away that roll of film you’ve kept in the bottom drawer of your unconscious for two decades. You will never get around to developing it.
  4. Don’t look at your Blocked List on Facebook. Chances are good that you can’t even remember those people, let alone the reasons for your resentment. Their once-familiar names are stacked in a row like downed trees after a storm. Beyond the clouds, a flash of sun.
  5. Watch Gene Kelly in a deluge, kicking water at the camera. A cop arrives, and Kelly apologizes, wanders sheepishly in the direction of home. Seconds later, he’s dancing again.
  6. Cook your favorite meal. Light several candles. Wear your fanciest outfit. Sit beside yourself and profess undying devotion. Don’t forget dessert.
  7. When Misery shows up (and he will), be polite. Give him a comfortable chair and a cup of coffee. Listen to his sob story and nod. Then, slip out your back door and walk as fast as you can in the opposite direction. He’ll catch up with you later, but at least you can enjoy the trees in the meantime.

Photo by Artapixel, used by permission.

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This list poem arose as part of a Google search. I typed “how to” into the search bar, and one of the first suggestions was “how to be happy again.” Serendipitously, I was watching the movie Singin’ in the Rain on TCM at the same time. Who can resist Gene Kelly’s signature dance in the middle of a deluge? Even a hardened cynic like me perks up when I see such unbridled joy.

PHOTO: Gene Kelly in a scene from Singin’ in the Rain (1952).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Leah Mueller is an indie writer and spoken word performer from Bisbee, Arizona. Her most recent books, Misguided Behavior: Tales of Poor Life Choices (Czykmate Press), Death and Heartbreak (Weasel Press), and Cocktails at Denny’s (Alien Buddha Press) were released in 2019. Leah’s work appears in Midway Journal, Citron Review, The Spectacle, Miracle Monocle, Outlook Springs, Atticus Review, Your Impossible Voice, and elsewhere. Her essay “Firebrand, The Radical Life and Times of Annie Besant” appears in the book Fierce, Essays By and About Dauntless Women which placed first in the nonfiction division of the 2019 Publisher’s Weekly Booklife contest. Visit her at and on Facebook and Twitter.