Money doesn’t buy happiness. If you take a look around, you’ll discover that there are opportunities in the recession for your personal life. It’s an involuntary pause, giving you much needed time to reflect, create new goals and reprioritize your life. While you still need money to pay your bills, you’ve probably realized there’s a lot to be thankful for, too. Here are a few silver linings.

Family time: Many families are staying home more often. They’re cooking more meals at home and eating together, spending less money on entertainment, and getting back to the basics of sharing quality time. Cutting back is boosting appreciation for many things that were previously taken for granted. This isn’t deprivation. This is the good life.

Community focus: Whenever you go through a tough time, it opens your eyes to others who have it worse. Low times encourage people to give more to others. It might be through volunteering or donations. Giving doesn’t have to be a charitable donation. You might reach out to neighbors more and share tools, garden harvests or help out — you know, the way it used to be before people decided that high fences made good neighbors.

New skills: While many have lost their jobs, it has become an opportunity to learn new skills or leave a job they weren’t happy with. Many are learning to do more repairs and home improvements on their own, too. For those working in industries that are taking a hit, they’re bartering their skills.

Saying no: It has never been easier to just say no to all the things that get you to part with your time and money. Friends and family are more compassionate about your budget. Want to pare down on gift giving during the holidays? Now is the time to bring it up. You have a legitimate reason for saying no. It’s the perfect time to get your family on board with a financial game plan, too.

Lean and green: When you have less money, you are forced to consume less. Why buy new when you can make do with what you have, borrow, rent, buy used or make it yourself? Times are turning. It’s a good thing.

Sara Noel is the owner of Write her c/o United Media, 200 Madison Ave., 4th Floor, New York, NY 10016, or e-mail