names have been omitted in this post
My daughter opened the door and clambered in, bright multi-colors on her backpack slung behind her like the shell on a turtle decked out for a festival. Her blonde ponytail bobbed behind her tied back with a hot pink hair elastic and she closed the car door.
"Hey!" I greeted her all happy to see her smiling face.
"Hey!" She smiled back and began getting settled in, yanking on her seat belt and once I heard it snap into place I slowly pulled away from the curb exiting the afternoon school car pool lane.
"I missed you today. Did you have a good day at school?" I asked her.
"Yeah…" she replied "but I don't know why my foot was itchy today…" She murmured with a frown on her face. "It bothered me all day." She added.
"Hmmm…" I said as I slowly approached the stop sign and stopped, letting several mothers and their children cross first. "That is odd…. maybe you're about to go on a trip." I told her teasingly.
"Well… I DID trip today." She admitted with a grin.
I burst out laughing at her words and smiled affectionately at her in the rear view mirror.
"Oh, my goodness… that is hilarious. Not you tripping, what you said." I giggled. She cracked me up.
She laughed too and started talking about some "meanie boy" who was bothering her in class that day.
I responded with "You know what we say to that!" I quipped in my southern drawl.
She broke out in a backseat dance and song…
"Can't touch this… oh-oh oh oh oh-oh-oh… Hammertime!"
Life is like that on some days…. we feel the bite of the dog, the sting of the wasp, the hurt of a snap… maybe a boy is mean or we trip and scrape our knee… but there are things we can all do to up our "happy quotient" even on the worst or best of days. We undeniably all want to be happy… and yet so many of us search our whole lives for just what exactly makes us so.
So what makes us happy?
Here are a few ideas to consider…
Humor makes us happy… when we can take a a bad day and inject humor into it… when we can see the funny side of things we will not allow something irritating or even downright maddening keep us down. We can do this by saying "Okay, that was wrong. I'm angry, disappointed, sad…" Whatever the emotion… Acknowledge your feelings. Embrace them. Then choose to move on. Allow a certain amount of time to deal with it and then find something positive to focus on. Watch a comedy, call a friend, recall a funny moment in the past that had you in stitches with laughter. Humor really is the best medicine.
We were filled with laughter, and we sang for joy.
And the other nations said,
‘What amazing things the Lord has done for them.'
Psalms 126:3 (NLT)
Gratitude makes us happier. Studies show that people who keep a gratitude journal, that are cognizant of the little things… jotting down two or three things at the end of each day that they are thankful for… they tend to be happier than their peers. I've been doing this the past few years and it makes a huge difference. It might be something you can share with your spouse or do alone. If you have children teaching them a heart of gratitude is essential… in a world so focused on the materialism of cars, homes, money and status. Giving them their own gratitude journal may be the stepping stone for them to discover how much they truly have to be thankful for.
Connecting with family and friends… strong marriages and friendships correlate to a high happy factor. Not spending time with those we love leads to one of the top regrets on a deathbed. Having a reliable network of loved ones that have your back and them knowing you have theirs… boosts us up and along with that connecting to a higher power. Seeking God and having a relationship with Christ… hope is especially crucial, as it means life has meaning. Simply telling ourselves to "get happy" generally doesn't work… we need to do something to get us there and in that it's about building a life that generates happiness. So often when were much younger we may believe that we need this and that… we need the fast car, we need the flashy condo, we need to go out every weekend and get plastered and have fun. But the truth is… happiness isn't loud, it isn't wrapped up in "things." It's actually correlated to having meaningful conversation with someone we care about, playing with our children, and sharing enjoyable experiences with those we love.
Contentment is all about feeling safe and calm… even if a storm brews outside your window and the world is being not so nice. My daughter always says "Some people are meaner than a dog bite." She's never been bitten by a dog but she knows already at a young age how mean people can sometimes be. Even if you are in a storm… there are things that can be done to alleviate the rush of overwhelm and simply find your calm spot. Exercise, kick boxing and relaxation techniques, even yoga may not make the meanies go away but will certainly help in giving you the help you need to deflect any mounting stress from outside factors that perhaps you have no control over.
Fear is something that has the ability to paralyze us and keep us behind… stagnant and not moving forward. We fear so many things… we fear the unknown, we fear whether or not we can succeed in our jobs, we fear if our relationships will last, we fear flying, swimming, you name it… we fear it. I nearly drowned when I was six years old… I still remember that day like it was yesterday. To this day I can't swim. I am determined to take lessons and learn. It's been on my to-do list and yet I've never gotten to it… it's easy when we are fearful of something to say "I will… but, um... later." Yikes, "later" just keeps coming and coming. We have to make that commitment and follow through because when we don't it undeniably holds us back. When we don't face whatever is on that list that we each have… it keeps us imprisoned.
Accepting our past and acknowledging the pain that has occurred is essential for moving on. When we admit those past disappointments without minimizing or denying what took place we open the door to freedom and close the one to "what should have been". Instead, we can smile and say "Things didn't go as I thought they would… but I know God will use it for good!" This is truth. When something withers something beautiful grows in it's place. Maybe someone needs to hear what you've been through… even if it's just one person you're sharing your story with it might just help more than you could ever imagine!
© gps-gracepowerstrength.blogspot.com ~ 2014
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