Mamas, are you happy? Do you find time to stop and smell the flowers?
What if I told you happiness is possible, regardless of our circumstances? Or that some of the happiest people in the world could perhaps live in the slums of India? Would it pique your interest to understand what exactly makes someone happy? It isn’t necessarily dependent upon material things or how much money one has. Many of us feel that happiness is in fact achievable, but ONLY when we get to a specific point in life. We usually envision it be way down the road and when tons of good things line up. For example, when we get to the next phase in life, when we land the next job, when we receive the next paycheck, or just when everything in our world miraculously aligns. It always seems right around the corner, yet so very far away.
As moms, we often feel there is no time left in the day to be happy because we constantly juggle 100 things at once. We commonly feel overwhelmed and overworked, with so many demands hitting us from multiple angles: our significant others, our children, our family members, our careers…and life in general. Handling so many responsibilities and wearing so many hats during the course of a day sometimes makes us feel there is little time left to smell life’s flowers. Well moms, I have good news for you! We don’t have to wait for all the stars to align to feel happiness. We can choose to embed happiness into our busy lives, right now, by being intentional.
4 ways to practice being happy:
1) Find FLOW. According to Hungarian psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, FLOW is the state whereby a person is “completely immersed in an activity with intense focus and creative engagement.” When you are in FLOW, time passes quickly and you feel fulfilled. For some, FLOW can be creating an artful masterpiece. For others, it can be playing a sport. Regardless of your circumstance, identify that sweet spot. Figure out which activity makes you feel euphoric and gives you life. Tap into it to achieve FLOW, and intentionally spend time engaged in it.
2) Be Grateful. Did you know being grateful increases happiness? Our society has become a very materialistic and consumer-driven culture. As a result, we keep striving to get more stuff in hopes that it all leads to happiness. Subsequently, we are not always grateful for what we do have. One study found that people who took the time to count their blessings once a week were happier than those who didn’t. So I encourage you to start a gratitude journal and routinely jot down what you are thankful for. And guess what, there’s even an app for that!
3) Remember Money Isn’t Everything. Have you ever dreamed about winning the lottery? Of course! We all have because we think the quality of life improves with the more money we have. But this isn’t always true. According to research by Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton, once you make enough to comfortably live (in the U.S. that averages $75,000), the positive effects of money have no influence on your happiness. The more money we get, the more money we spend. We will just keep accumulating nicer houses and nicer cars, even though our happiness has hit a ceiling.
4) Surround Yourself with Happy People. Have you ever been in a meeting or at an event where everyone was either complaining or negative? How did you feel afterwards? Drained, tired, sad? When we congregate around negative people, we tend to adopt their negative spin on life. Those vibes are contagious, and we feel drained and unhappy as well. Try to avoid these people and environments, and intentionally surround yourselves with happy people.
Moms, I have a message for you. In the midst of everything, remember that happiness is something we can practice and achieve. Despite our circumstance, we can achieve it through our attitude and behavior. Start practicing the steps above. You will learn how to choose happiness and rewire your brain to have a positive outlook on life.
Happy Practicing Mamas!
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