Saturday, September 16, 2017

Sifting Through Life: Happiness

Sometimes we have to ask for the things we want in order to find our happiness.
If we walk through life assuming that those around us know what we want we are setting ourselves up for disappointment and possibly, a lot of misunderstanding.

Cory always tells me he is not a mind reader. I guess for the first few years of our lives I really wanted him to be.  Sometimes it would be easier if we could read our partner's minds. Then I think what would we lose in our relationship if the concept to speak our own words were taken from us?

Words convey a message when spoken. They can be harsh, soft, loud, whispered, sung, rhymed, etc.... Would we translate the message the same if we heard it in our thoughts and minds (reading only the words) and not with our ears which can hear emotion and tone?

I remember being newly married and wanting to please everyone.  Nothing has changed in 29 years other than I now know that pleasing me is also important. I am happier if I speak my words. Let me say that again,  MY WORDS. Not the words that I think they want to hear or even the words that I fear saying sometimes. I am trying to keep our conversations honest and truthful. Taking the emotion out of the conversation so that our ears are listening and understanding.

I find myself reminding my little kids to "find their words" and "speak their words". When Isabella feels that her answer is not what I want to hear she goes quiet and reflective. I recognize that she is afraid to tell me the truth for fear that she may hurt my feelings or say the wrong thing.  Again, I find myself saying to her-speak your words, ask the question, and answer the question honestly.  I remind her, "there are no wrong answers. You are not in trouble."  When we allow our kids to express themselves in safe environments we have an opportunity to encourage honesty and a sense of happiness. Happiness with themselves and with others.

We have always tried to provide a safe home in which our kids can talk to us about anything and I mean anything. We have had some long discussion about all sorts of topics.  I won't go into details but they are profound, uncomfortable at times, loving, honest, and sometimes, eye opening. They are not afraid to ask us any questions. This is how we want our home to be. This is how I should be with myself.  I should ask myself some hard questions to learn and find out what is buried down deep inside. One question I find myself asking about once a year is, Am I happy?

I feel that as women we get caught up in the lives of those around us and involved in creating their happiness, that we forget to check in with ourselves. I believe that when we ask ourselves this question it opens up a chance for us to answer truthfully, yes or no.

When we can step back and listen to our yes or no answer, without feeling shame if the answer is no, then we can get to the root of why we may not be happy. I am okay with hearing no because I realize no is an answer. Not the answer I may want to hear but those two little letters that will no longer hold me back from asking the hard or simple questions in this life or of myself.

I recently have had to ask myself some hard questions about where I am going and what I want to do. I realized that I have secretly been holding onto a list of things I wish to do... eventually. I always tell myself: when the kids move out, when the kids graduate, when the kids are old enough, when the kids.... do you see a pattern here?  I wouldn't change having my kids for the world or being married. It just seems that I need to fill my lamp with some happiness oil for me. It happens and once we see it happening, small changes to our perspective or daily lives can add a lot of small doses of happiness back into our lives.

I finally looked myself in the mirror and asked the reflection staring back at me, "Am I happy?" It has not been easy looking myself in the eyes. Happiness to me used to mean one thing. Now it means a lot of things. I am happy as a mom. I am happy being a wife. I am happy with my home. I am typically a happy person.

BUT....there are holes in my happiness.


In the journey to put my family first and to try and ensure their happiness, I have lost myself a little bit.  I have forgotten to live a little. I am missing out on small things that mean a lot to me.  My happiness has been on vacation. Each and every time my heart would start to question a little desire or a need I wanted, my mind would shove it to the back of the line; not today maybe tomorrow is always the response.

My next question to myself was, "How can I change this?" I recently read a quote that mentioned the word MORE.  I know that I am happy but I knew immediately that I could be more than just happy. I could be much happier with a few simple changes to my thoughts, actions and daily routine.

It is amazing how alive I feel and how happy I have become. The questions just keep coming too.  It's okay to ask ourselves hard questions. Sometimes we won't want to hear the answer and we won't know the solution. Finding the right way to move forward will be different for everyone and I believe this is okay.

We all travel through this life at different speeds, with an array of goals, circumstances that alter our destiny, as well as, being pulled in many directions. Life can be challenging and it can easily slip away from us. The older I get the more I realize that I am in the driver seat and sometimes I want to go slow and other times I want to speed. Today I want to speed.

Take a few minutes to ask yourself a few questions and answer them honestly. Allow yourself to explore your options and see things differently.  Be gentle with yourself. Allow yourself forgiveness and a little bit of happiness. You may be surprised to discover that little changes, ideas, and thoughts can lead to some very big adventures in your life.

Life is busy and we forget sometimes how to be happy and brings us happiness. It's okay to stop our lives once in a while and check in and see if we are on the right path. Permit yourself to peel back the layers of your life and reexamine those activities, people, jobs, social gatherings, and adventures that bring true happiness into your life.

And you know what, it's okay to simplify. It's okay to cut back. It's okay to say no. It's okay to make changes, make a request, and to take 5 minutes for yourself.

It's okay to be happy.

You deserve it.

P.S. I would love to hear your thoughts or comments about this subject. As humans, we all identify differently with the term happiness and how it affects our lives. By sharing our stories we heal others, inspire, and open up a level of understanding that we might not have otherwise thought about. 

My idea of happiness or happy may not be yours. I am interested in learning about how each of us interprets this word. More importantly, how you achieve it. Share what makes you happy and how you become happy.

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