As I have dealt with difficulties in my relationships this past month, I have discovered the truth of the above statement. I cannot base my happiness on what is going on with things outside of me and often, outside of my control. I can only control what is inside of me, what I feel, what I think, how I treat others, and most importantly, how I treat myself. If I am not OK on the inside, it really doesn’t matter how good things may be in other areas of my life. I have been trying to take time for ME – to ponder, to pray, to study, to meditate … to do those things that will bring me to where I need to be – for ME. And I have never felt more peaceful, more calm, more prepared for whatever may come.
12 Things Happy People do Differently:
- Express gratitude.
- Cultivate optimism.
- Avoid over-thinking and social comparison.
- Practice acts of kindness.
- Nurture social relationships.
- Develop strategies for coping.
- Learn to forgive.
- Increase flow experiences.
- Savor life’s joys.
- Commit to your goals.
- Practice spirituality.
- Take care of your body.
Today I found this list of things happy people do differently. It made me really ask myself if I am happy. For the most part, I would say yes. And really it does come down to when I do actually practice these 12 things in my life. When I’m not taking care of my body, when I’m not being optimistic, when I’m not working on my relationships, or when I’m not taking time to savor the small things in life, I don’t feel as happy as when I am doing all of those things. I know it sounds kind of cheesy, and seems so simple, but it can be really hard to do all of these things all of the time. And it seems when I fail at one thing, I so easily fail at others. I think out of all the things on this list, I fail most at #11. I always make time every morning to pray, but then the day flies by and I fall into bed without once really giving my heart and mind to God, really connecting with him more than those few minutes on my knees in the morning. I know that as I make more effort to be connected to God, that the other things will be easier – because I will be connected to myself. I want to be a more spiritual person. I feel like I have been a more spiritual person in the past, and because of some of the experiences and challenges I have faced, I am not that way anymore. Obviously I am not the same person, you don’t stay the same person – your experiences will always change you – but I want my experiences (whether good OR bad) to change me into a more spiritual person. To turn to God because of them (and sometimes despite of them), and become more spiritual because of it. I struggle with feeling worthy in His eyes, I struggle with #7 on the list – not with forgiving others, but with forgiving myself – and because of these things, I deny myself of love and blessings and HAPPINESS. It’s sometimes hard to believe that he loves me despite my imperfections. But believing He is the merciful, forgiving, loving FATHER that the scriptures claim He has, how can I not believe that?? I must believe it, for my own happiness, now and forever.
Recently I got into a fight with my hubby. It was over something I had not done that he has repeatedly asked me to do, and yet I failed again. It’s not that I purposely don’t do what he asks, or that I even really realize I am not doing it, I just let the small things get in the way. I struggle with spending so much time focusing on the small, meanial, UNIMPORTANT things, that I often forget about the bigger, more important things. And without those important things, well the small things wouldn’t even exist. I could tell how frustrated and upset my hubby was, and I felt so terrible inside for being the one to cause him to feel this way. He said ‘I just don’t know what to do’. I said ‘please give me another chance’. He replied ‘why?’ My response was a lot less profound and a lot more wordy than the picture I have posted above, but it was what I was trying to get at. We are not perfect, we will always stumble and falter, even if we don’t want to or are trying not to. But like each new day is a new chance to change and grow, if we aren’t willing to give others – and especially give OURSELVES – another chance, then what is the purpose of it all? I’m not saying that we should just not care when others hurt us or fail to fulfil their promises, but it is more about looking beyond the actions and seeing their heart, and being willing to forgive and try again WITH THEM. God does that for us, every minute of every day, and how can we become like Him unless we are willing to do the same thing for our fellow man?
I struggle with feeling I have enough time in each day, each week, to do all that I want to do. I rush around every day, trying to accomplish my list of tasks I have created for myself, and usually do so. But as I fall into bed at the end of the day, I still feel unaccomplished. I found this quote the other day, and it just struck home. I spend my days doing all the things that matter least, and the things that matter most get pushed to the side. My hubby wants to just hang out and cuddle after dinner, but I want to get the dishes done and out of the way. I take time to clean a barely-dirty apartment, when I don’t take time to sit down and really listen to my hubby, or write in my journal (or on here, for that matter), or ponder on the deeper things of life, or go dancing in the rain. I want to take time for what is important, I want to MAKE time for what is important, and not sacrifice those things for ANYTHING.
A few weeks ago I was on my long drive home, still out in the countryside cruising along at 70 miles an hour, when everyone started slamming on their brakes. Suddenly everyone was stopped and we all sat there for a good 15 minutes without moving. After dealing with horrible delays in getting home at Christmas, and then for the whole month of February with the Rodeo going on, I was more than a little irritated that my drive home was not going to be delay-free today. As I sat there I was lost in my own thoughts, mostly frustration from the hold up, which meant getting home late, eating dinner late, and having less time to spend with my hubby and get the evening chores done before the day was over.
Finally the traffic started moving again, and as I started to move, I glanced over at the vehicles around me. In the car right next to mine were two young men (early 20’s maybe? I’m getting old so I can’t tell anymore!) and the one in the passenger seat had a piece of paper in his hands that read ‘What is your phone number?’
Suddenly my whole day changed. The rest of my drive home was an enjoyable one, I couldn’t help but smiling. Sure, I was flattered that he thought I was ‘cute enough’ to ask for my number, but it was something more. Here I was sitting in my car just waiting for the time to pass until I could be moving again. But these two young men were paying attention to their surroundings (me!) and probably having a great time, despite not being where they had planned to be.
One of my weaknesses is that I spend so much time planning and preparing, that I often miss out on enjoying the moment I am. The little things, the things that make life so enjoyable and incredible, often pass me by because I’m too busy planning for the big things. I forget to enjoy the ride. And since this experience, I have been trying to make the most of every moment. It has truly bought a peace, a happiness, and a purpose to each day.
I have a love-hate relationship with the person who gave me life. Ironic, really. There are so many things about her that drive me crazy, that I can’t stand, … yet without her, I wouldn’t be here. I know she has tried to be a good mother, but the way she judges others – including me – is almost too much to handle. I guess I can be grateful that I have lived far, far away from home for 12 years now, but even just her e-mails and once-yearly visits, are enough to push me over the edge. I know she does not approve of my choice in husband, in moving away from her, in not having children yet. She doesn’t often verbalize it, but I can feel the judgments just OOZING out of her. The problem is, I am still intimidated by her. I still want her to approve of me and my life, and do everything I can to try and please her, yet I NEVER will. I role-play out conversations in my mind of what I would say to her if she brought up an unfair judgment towards me, but then when that ever happens, I run scared and timidly make excuses that I think will satisfy her, while all the time giving up part of myself. So now it has happened again, she has said something to me (well, e-mailed something to me), to which I have just recently been role-playing my response if this topic should ever come up. Here I stand at the cross roads. Do I try to please her, as I always have done, with the only result being a loss of my self-confidence and self-respect. Or do I FINALLY be true to myself, stand up to her, and realize that I don’t have to give excuses for who I am and how I choose to live. I have always tried to do what I feel in my heart is right, I am a good person, so what do I have to be ashamed of??
Apart from my sweet husband, I don’t have any friends. Not even one. I can scan through my phone for the past few weeks, even months, and there is not one person who has called me, besides bill collectors. Sure, you could look at my facebook page and see that I have hundreds of ‘friends’ … people that will like a status update or respond to one of my posts, but I really don’t consider those people true friends. It has been so long since I had someone else in my life that I considered a friend … I don’t know if I even know how to be a friend anymore. For a long time it bothered me. It would cause me great heartache, and I shed many tears for the pain I felt thinking nobody cared about me. I really tried to fit in – at work, at Church, in social settings – but all I was doing was pretending. I can recall countless conversations with people that consisted of me asking questions about them, complimenting them, listening to them, but not one comment or question to me in return. I know people can be self-centered, but everyone?!? I started thinking that I just wasn’t good enough, wasn’t worthy for anyone’s time or attention. After an extremely upsetting and lonely day, I was having a conversation with my hubby (one of many, many conversations about this subject), and he said something profound to me. He said that I needed to stop worrying about what other people thought, but to just follow what my heart said; to be true to myself. If I did that, my light would shine for others to either accept or reject. The purpose of life isn’t to fit in with the crowd, but to find your true self and share that person with the world. As I have tried to be true to myself, to do what my heart says and what makes me happy, I have come to find that I no longer worry about being alone. I have learnt to appreciate – and even savor – the alone times I do have, where I can focus on myself and developing my talents and goals. Luckily, I can share some of these things with my hubby, and hopefully my future children someday, but that is not the point. I do these things so I can fulfil my dreams, and my destiny … so I can take that little step towards becoming who I was born to be.