Are you always happy?

I get asked this question often. The answer is no, but I try to be.

The short answer is that my life is good and I try to see the positive in every situation.  The long answer is it is work to be happy and it is a choice.  My life has been great with plenty of struggles.  I had several learning disabilities growing up and never felt like school was meant for me but I graduated college and aquired several more certifications.  I have always had a job when I needed one, some were better than others. I survived a car accident that should have killed me with only minor injuries. I dated a bunch of great guys but always had trouble committing to a relationship fully, but I eventually figured it out, got married, and even had three awesome kids.  My kids are amazing but I question my mothering skills daily.  My husband and I have faced Autism, huge financial strain (from Autism), having three kids in four and half years and the never ending struggle of having to hold all of this together.

I have made sacrifices that I know were necassary but I have a hard time letting go of the angst that I have for making those sacrifices and I hold it against those I made the sacrifices for.  So, despite all of my hardships, I still believe that I have a good life.  And for a long time the theme was, “it could have been worse.” It came from a children’s book of the same title about a mouse that almost got eaten at every turn but always has some mishap that saves him.  This is how I felt most of the time things were good but they could be better or that sucked but could have been worse.

Then last year I wanted to change my damn theme, my life could be worse so why the hell am I not appreciating it? My New Year’s Resolution was to be happy which I wrote down with my new theme and put into an envelope and stuck in my desk. It sounds sort of vague and boring but I was in search of soul deep happiness, to be truly grateful for the life I have. The new theme is one word, my favorite word, FANTASTIC! Because honestly, all this shit that makes up our lives is fantastic! I am not saying that everything that happens is fantastic but just the sheer fact that we are here is pretty remarkable. I am happy to report that, although it is a lifelong process, I AM TRULY HAPPY.

I noticed the shift in my overall outlook in October. I had been working on it all year but I realized it was becoming more of a habit then. I was enjoying the good things more and  letting the bad stuff roll off my back. So I figured I’d share with all of you in a series of blog posts how I found MY HAPPY.

This shift in mindset happened over time but the first thing I did was to reflect on what I was actually focusing on.  I am a highly sensitive person, not that I cry every time something happens to me, but I am very sensitive to other people’s emotions.  So first things first, I took out all the negative things around me that I could control. I deleted Facebook pages and people that were negative influences, depressing, or too sad and only viewed these things when I was mentally prepared for them.  I stopped watching the news and told the people around me to tell me if something major was happening.

Most importantly I limited my time with negative people and practiced not picking up other people’s emotional shit.  This was described to me by my favorite therapist, she said, “imagine when people are talking that and they are putting out their emotional shit, that it is a box and you can choose whether or not you pick it up.”  I am a fixer I like to solve peoples problems and hand them back to them in a pretty package all fixed up, but the problem is that I take on the emotions that are attached to them and make them my own. I took the advice and stopped picking up other people’s shit, I visualized that it was a box in between us every time someone put something out there.

I could choose not to pick it up, I could look at it, I could give advice about it but it was not mine to pick up. Being aware of this made me realize how often I do this After much practice, I am happy to report it really is my choice to pick it up or not.  So think about this next time someone offers you their shit, you can look at it, you can admire it, you can tell them you see it, but you don’t have to make it your own.

This led me to the best advice I have ever gotten, one of my favorite preschool teachers of my kids, “Worry about yourself!” This video sums it all up, the little girl has a problem and she is trying to solve it and she needs her dad to worry about himself. I used to spend a lot of time worrying about everyone else and not about myself, but then I was mad that no one was worrying about me.  I know this is the trap that many moms and people in general fall into, but here’s the deal: IF YOU DON’T WORRY ABOUT YOURSELF, YOU WILL GET LOST. If you are lost, you are not who you want to be and you can’t help those around you.  I know you have heard this advice a million times, but put on your oxygen mask first and then help those around you.

This was just the beginning of the year of the happiness transformation. I hope this inspires all of you to THINK OF YOURSELVES FIRST and FOCUS ON YOUR OWN HAPPINESS. Stay tuned for the next post!