Are you happy? It’s a simple enough question and one I think most people would want to answer with a resounding yes! But how many of us feel truly happy? Like happy deep in our bones, with a lightness and radiance?
When I ask my family and friends how many people they know who are truly happy with life, most people can name one person or none. I find this, honestly, quite sad. I think part of our purpose here is to feel happiness and joy. And it’s very much within our reach.
In a recent discussion with someone near and dear about happiness, she shared that she was happiest when … and she reflected on a time in her life a few years ago. She easily listed all the reasons why her happiness was at a higher level then, than it is now.
The specifics of what she was doing for happiness don’t matter. The point here is that she could easily identify what was making her happy, and they were related to her actions not her situation. She knew what to do to get to that sweet spot of happiness.
To be happy, you have to know what makes you happy. After my chat with my friend, I got out my journal and wrote down a few things that bring me happiness. I didn’t have to write them down to know, but seeing the words on the page was a firm reminder to do what brings joy. A few things on my list included an early morning walk, reading purely for pleasure, drinking tea with my kiddos, and doing puzzles on the living room floor (and of course, Disneyland.)
Once you have your list, do the things that bring you happiness! And best you can, set a side the limitations I’m guessing are creeping into your mind this very second. One common limitation is “I don’t have time.” Each of the things in my list (except Disneyland) can take five minutes, or as long as I’d like.
I can go for a five minute walk or a sixty minute walk. A puzzle with my kids can be a 20-piece puzzle we’ve done a hundred times (hello, five minutes) or a 60-piece puzzle that takes longer. And if you still find yourself falling into the trap of “I don’t have time”, shift to saying “I am not making space for…” I don’t have time to read has a very different meaning than I’m not making space for reading for pleasure.
A few summers ago I was standing next to a beachside carousel as it spun around and around and I noticed that not a single person on the carousel was smiling. Not one. As I’ve reflected on it again and again, I keep returning to my hunch for why that carousel wasn’t oozing with happiness: the riders were lost in thought and not in the present moment.
Of course this is just a theory of mine, but I think we can all agree we’ve been taken away from the present moment by our mental to-do lists, plans, worries, and on and on. Think about the present moment of a carousel ride — carnival music, vibrant colors, movement as the horse goes up and down, feeling the golden bar from the horse’s neck between your hands. Really feeling and connecting to the now of the experience is more likely to invoke joy, rather than thinking about how crazy traffic is going to be on the way home.
The dishes have to get washed, so you may as well find a little peace and joy in it. For me, that means using dish soap I love the smell of, playing a little music, and really feeling the warm water wash over my hands. It can be a peaceful moment if you soak into the presence of it all.
Mamas, I am a mama of two kids and I get the busy nature of our days. I do. I also have been amazed at the simplicity required to increase our happiness in the day to day. Identify what makes you happy, create space to do those things, and be in the present moment… that’s the only place you can be right now.
Julie Tobi is a storyteller at heart, mama of two and married to her college sweetheart. She is the creator of The Birth Journal, a guided keepsake journal for moms to write their birth story. She believes birth stories are too incredible to be tucked away on computers and that it’s never too late to write your birth story. She is also a life coach, working with women to connect with their truest self, let go of the stories holding them back, and take their life or business to the next level. Follow her on Instagram at @thebirthjournal and @jelizacreative.
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