“When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.”– John Lennon
When I started writing my blog I had the purpose of assessing my life, looking back at what I had done and also looking forward to what I still want to do. Life is short and I do not think we truly appreciate that until we are a little older. We are not mindful.
We are too busy living our life to step back and appreciate it. What a gift ! There is so much joy available in virtually most any experience. The simple things that are there everyday if we would just slow down a little bit. To me it is like Spring, that wonderful season when everything is new and fresh. The “greening effect” of the buds on the trees, flowers popping out of the ground, the sound of a Robin, the “peepers” sounding by the pond. Glorious !
All those things make me happy and there are so many other common everyday things like my first cup of coffee and the second cup in late afternoon. My cat waking me in the morning and then leading me to the outdoors to start my day. My happy little dog who always brings me something he loves; one of his balls, a worn, chewed stuffed animal or his favorite squeaky.
Hearing the voices of my children and the wonderful “little” voice of my grandson. My teenage granddaughter who offers me so much hope for the world watching her grow and mature. See her forming her opinions and values and developing her wonderful artistic talents.
So why do we have a “problem” being happy ? We all have bad days and that is understandable. We work hard and we get tired. Something will happen that is discouraging and ,yes, bad things do happen. The loss of a good friend, an accident and someone is injured, you, or someone you love, is diagnosed with cancer. Just turning on the nightly news can be disheartening.
But why are we not happy with our day to day life, when it is not filled with the real bad stuff, but just those ordinary days. We get up, we have breakfast, everyone goes off to work or school, we come home, spend time together and then it’s time to go to bed. Those kinds of days, normal days. The feel good days that we take for granted.
When someone asks how are you and you want to answer honestly and tell them you are depressed, you are not happy, you feel lousy, life sucks. Do you even know why you feel like that ? Sometimes we wake up that way. You did not sleep well and you are tired but what is the real reason behind it.
Sometimes I think we expect too much or we try too hard. Everyone has expectations of how you will feel when you finish doing something; like planning a vacation or completing a big assignment at school or work. When you are home from vacation or you have completed that assignment you expect to feel good, really good, and then you don’t.
Kind of like the Peggy Lee song from 1969, “Is That All There Is?”.
So what can we do to be happy ? I think it is possible to change our way of thinking about what we do each day and to adjust our way of doing things, change our perspective. Some refer to this as mindfulness.
Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or be overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.
I read an article by Paige Oldham for Simplemindfulness;
https://www.simplemindfulness.com/how-to-set-goals-that-will-increase-your-happiness/ . A great article which I recommend reading.
I really like how she expressed it, ” Living authentically and intentionally, doing what we love, and expressing our feelings with the people we love – these are the most common things people deny themselves of throughout their lives. ”
So how do we practice Mindfulness ? Like with most important things you have done in the past, or what you perceived as important enough at the time to put in the effort, you make a plan and you set goals and you form new habits.
First things first though, you have to decide what is important. What do you value, what makes you feel good, and at the end of the day you know it helped you feel happy ? I go back to those simple things in life that make you feel good and add value to your life. The things we usually take for granted.
If you are working there will be decisions to be made so you can balance your work and your happiness. Learn to schedule in little breaks whenever possible to do something that will bring joy and alleviate stress. Get up from your work area and move around, get some coffee, read a quote that makes you feel good, look at pictures of your family, make a quick call home. There are many things you can do to relax even when doing an important task at work. When in doubt just smile; it will make you feel better.
Whenever possible take a moment to do a mental scan of how you feel. Close your eyes and slowly think about each part of you. Are you relaxed ? Are you clasping your hands tightly in a fist, does your neck or any part of your body feel tight ? If the answer is yes then you are showing signs of tension or stress. Do an evaluation of what you were doing that made you feel that way. By doing so you are learning more about what causes you stress and you can look for ways to change.
I like to write things down. Make a daily journal about your day and how you feel. Make a list of what you do each day and break it down into pros and cons. Decide what it is that makes you feel good and what makes you feel bad. Then think about what, and how, you can change. Decide how you can spend more time doing what makes you feel good and how you can eliminate those things you spend time on that really do not help you or that make you feel bad. Make it a habit to once a week take some quiet time, read your journal for that week, and keep working on your plan.
We all push ourselves to move forward and make ourselves better and to make a better life for our families. Is that important ? Yes, of course, it is. But at what cost ? There is a balance that we have to learn and most of us ignore. There may be something in our subconscious mind that tries to tell us that we are out of sync but we usually ignore it and keep pushing forward. We are not being mindful.
We are competitive beasts and we always want more and that has become quite normal. Many people when they retire have a problem dealing with the changes retirement brings because they no longer have anything to strive for. They never learned to have a balance in their life and now they have nothing to turn to except maybe regret. They come to realize that what they had worked so hard for did not have the value they had thought. At the end they may ask, “Is That All There Is?
Learn to live in the present. Learn Mindfulness.
As always, thank you for reading my blog. Have a great “mindful” day.