Have you ever noticed that the older you get the more you seem to think about happiness? When I was in my early to mid 20′s I rarely stopped to think about whether I was happy or not. I was too busy living life.
The years passed, children came….and more children….and even more children which of course brought an increase in responsibilities. A house, a mortgage, a travelling husband, my mother’s illness and death, my own growing online business, my grandparents moving in with us, my grandmother’s illness and death, my youngest child’s health issues……etc. etc. When I think about it now I realize that it’s nothing really out of the ordinary – countless people around the world face the same types of things… and many many more live with even worse. But as is typical of human nature – it’s the “grass is greener” scenario – you never look at people who have it worse than you – you always look at people who have it easier right LOL?.
For a long time, I was simply focused on doing my best at juggling whatever life threw my way. Although I never felt like I had everything under control – I did a great job of convincing myself that I was managing. I may have been constantly stressed out and constantly feeling like I was behind the eight ball – but I chose not to think about that. Because I was managing, I never stopped to think about how sustainable my lifestyle was and the toll it was taking on me.
It wasn’t until my body started waving the red flag (which I talk about here) that I finally sat up and took notice. That’s when it really hit me that I needed a major life overhaul. Once I gave myself permission to actually think about it – I realized that I was not happy with the way in which I was living out the various aspects of my life. Of course that’s when the excuses set in. “What choice did I have?….I have 5 kids…my husband’s job takes him away from home too often….my business requires a lot of my time….I don’t have time to exercise….my grandparents need me….my family are picky eaters….blah blah blah”
It’s so easy to lay the blame on circumstance, and do nothing except maybe feel sorry for yourself. Which I did….for a looong time. Until I finally got tired of it. When I was younger I had always shaken my head in exasperation at people who let circumstance control their happiness. Who went on and on about how tough life was (as if they were the only ones) but then never did anything about it.
Without even realizing it – I had allowed myself to become one of those people. Ugh! Let me tell you, that was hard to face.
As hard as I try, I can’t remember what finally triggered my aha moment. It snuck up on me quietly. One day I just
realized accepted that I couldn’t let circumstance control me – my happiness was my choice and would be the direct result of my actions. Once I accepted that I began the process of re-evaluating my life and implementing changes.
Now I’d love to be able to say that ever since my *aha* moment everything has changed and I have it all figured out. I’m great, life is great, I have it all together and I’m going to show you how!
Unfortunately not. Rather I’ve found it to be an up and down process. One step forward, two steps back. Two steps forward, one step back. What does remain constant is that each and every day I have to choose to live in a way that’s in alignment with my vision for a happier life. I have to choose to make healthier choices for a happier life. Sometimes choices have worked for me. Other times they haven’t and I’ve tried something else.
Then of course there’s the whole issue of sticking to the healthier choices.
The one thing that took awhile to really sink in for me is that it really is a daily choice. And that there are many days that I’d rather make the easy choice instead of the better choice. I wake up tired and cranky and I don’t want to go to the gym. Or I’m feeling lazy and I’d rather skip breakfast and just have coffee. Or I’m stressed from a busy day and resort to hot dogs or pizza for dinner. Or I don’t feel like reading a bed time story to the kids…etc. etc. And there are more days than I’d like that I do exactly those things.
The “old” me would have berated myself terribly for that. With my new philosophy I’m trying to be forgiving with myself and recognize that everyone falls of the bandwagon – the key is to get back on again.
I’ll never pretend to have all the answers, or even an answer. But I will share with you what I’ve tried, what I am trying, what’s working, what’s worked, what hasn’t worked. That’s something I’ll start talking about in my next post.
In the meantime I want to share with you a downloadable quote card I’ve created. I personally LOVE quotes. I find them inspiring and I find they have the power to turn my thoughts around when I’m allowing myself to engage in stinkin’ thinkin’ (a phrase which originated in Alcoholics Anonymous but is now widely used). Often times I’ll create and print out quote cards and then slip them into one of those Project Life style binders so that I can refer to them again and again.
I’ve created a downloadable quote card out of a great quote on Happiness from the Dalai Lama which I’ve put into PDF form that you can print out, cut out and pin up somewhere (or slip into a binder), and in PNG format which you can use with Digital Project Life if you’re a digital scrapper.
You can download the entire file – both the PDF and the PNG - they are in a zipped folder which you will need to open or “extract” on your computer. You will likely need to right click on that link and select “save target as” on a PC or “download linked file” on a Mac.
As I continue to create quote cards for myself I’ll continue to share them with you. In the meantime I’d love to hear your thoughts. Are you happy where you are in your life right now or are there particular things you’re working on changing?