Happiness Noir came about after working with clients who were suffering, but had strikes against them beyond what they could help or control.

  • They were female, in a male world. 
  • They were fiscally disadvantaged (not all, but most) compared to the rest of the world.
  • They were being diagnosed with mental illnesses, when really, what they battled was trauma and domestic violence and grief.

It changed the meaning of happiness for me.

After two decades of moving through the evolution of the positive psychology movement, nothing more profoundly affected me than to both survive trauma then work with those who were surviving domestic trauma. 

Noir Defined 

Noir is the darker side of our human emotions, in this context. The opposite of the light life, as I wrote it. The yin to the yang. The balance between seeing the world through rose colored glasses versus seeing the world through a scarred heart. 

Not all that is good is light and love. It’s not all darkness and shadows either. There is a balance in our world. To live a full whole life, we inevitably must embrace both sides. 

I wrote The Light Life for a year or two so wanted to dedicate the next year to that shadow self. The positive psychology 2.0 as described by the evolution of the field includes the balance. 

We can’t be afraid of the fear, the sadness, the confussion that often times happens in lieu of the true joy we strive for. 

Embrace the darkness

When we can comfortably sit with our emotions we have a command over them.

We can regulate back to a baseline of contentment faster and we can find the light in the darkness every time something bad happens. 

Today’s social media and many practitioners/researchers are telling people not to feel bad. They dismiss and trivialize our less popular emotions, which only makes people feel guilty for feeling fear, sadness, grief. 

Emotions are a self cleaning oven of our soul self.

When you feel love, know that there is a practical wisdom whispering to you to have fun, but take your time in knowing the full picture. And when you are grieving the loss of your former self after a traumatic event, give yourself permission to be angry, sad, and even confused. 

Human beings have been given everything we need to live an extraordinary life. Nature vs Nurture ~ the classic tale of what it is to be human. Happiness Noir explores both the good and the bad, the happy and the sad. 

There is something poignantly beautiful in the stillness of a quiet pitch black night that allows our brains to adjust.

Internally, we can see the light, no matter what.

Embrace your darkness in order to love your wholeness. 

In Peace and Light,


Author: K. Aren Henry has a masters in community psychology and an advanced graduate certificate in mental health counseling. The Light Life is part of her “happiness noir” series, copyright 2021 ©  She’s a private practitioner and researcher in the United States. Henry Healing dot com is her calling card. 

Find out more about positive psychology courses and training at 

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