The Art of Happiness
One of the toughest challenges to being a new parent is the realization of how little free time you actually have.
During the first few weeks of Ryan’s arrival at home, my day would consist of diaper changes, feeding, burping, breast pumping, holding, rocking, shushing – and the cycle repeats itself until my husband comes home. On many days, finding time for a shower becomes a challenge in itself.
And if I’m lucky, when he’s napping, I’ll have an hour or two to run to the bathroom, wash all my breast pump parts and get something to eat. On my most productive days, my accomplishments include getting the dishes done, or a trip to the grocery store.
This has been my life for the past six months. And what I described above is only a small portion of the challenges we’ve face. Other challenges include sleep deprivation, maintaining romantic relationships, and colic (3+ hours of non-stop crying every evening for several weeks).
What I realized is that we as a society really don’t give enough credit to the fulltime moms and dads in the world. It is really one of the toughest things one could experience, yet, it is one of those things we can’t anticipate or truly understand until we’re going through it.
Because my hands are constantly full (literally), I am behind on everything else, like cleaning the house, doing laundry, answering email and what feels like an endless list of action items.
Now that Ryan is a little bit older, whenever he is not eating or napping, I find myself putting him down on a play mat or swing, almost habitually, so I can catch up and get more things done. But in doing so, I wasn’t really participating with him when he was awake.
Ryan at 5 months. See more photos on facebook.
My mind felt noisy, cluttered and frazzled. I felt as if I was drowning in a sea of todos… ahhhh!!!!!!
One day a few weeks ago, as I was rushing to getting some work done on the computer, I heard Ryan making these ridiculously adorable sounds with his mouth as he lay on a blanket next to my desk.
I tried to ignore it, so I could finish what I was doing, but then in that moment, I realized that I was missing out on being with my baby and witnessing the precious developmental moments. I turned off the computer and started playing with Ryan with all my attention.
I realized that I had allowed the list of action items to dictate how I was living my life. I became so focused on getting things done, that I was no longer focused on being with my baby son, even though he is with me physically.
I realized that work will always be there, and that it is never ending if I allow it to be. I realized that my own happiness and spending time being with my family are the most important priorities. And now, I choose to be with my son, to give him my full attention, to witness the pure bliss that babies radiate. Everything else can wait.
It’s like when we’re busy being busy, we miss the beautiful details of our life, and we take for granted the things that mean the most to us.
If today was the last day of your life, would you be doing what you’ve been so busy trying to get done? Or would you be spending deliciously intimate time with the people you loved? Or doing something so satisfying for your soul that you know in your heart that life was meant to be joyful.
The Direct Route to Happiness
It’s easy to get caught up with the never ending todo lists, or the demands of other people wanting your time, or the guilt of things you think you “should” be doing.
But if we take a moment to slow down, to reflect, to clear our minds, we will realize that many of the things we do, and many of the things that seemingly cause us stress do not add any value to our wellbeing.
At the end of the day, ask yourself, “What do I want?” and the answer is likely a derivative of “I want to be happy.”
So instead of being busy, instead of doing, instead of rushing to get there, just decide to be happy, right Now!
Make the feeling of Joy and Happiness your primary focus as you walk through your day, regardless of what you are doing.
Focus on things that make you feel good. Focus on the goodness and blessings in your life. Look for things to be appreciative of, and mentally point out all that you are thankful for in any moment.
If you catch yourself feeling stressed out or overwhelmed, stop what you are doing and (optionally) close your eyes. Take a few deep breathes – fully inhale and slowly exhale – and ask yourself, “I want to feel good. What can I do right now to feel good?” and focus on feeling good and follow your inner voice.
The other day, I felt distracted and pressured, and then I asked myself what I wanted to do at that moment, and my inner voice said to play the song Sweet Lullaby by Deep Forest. For me, the song represents hope, inspiration and adventure.
I instantly felt upbeat and started dancing to its tunes in my office. A sense of relief washed over me physically and calmed my emotional being. I felt refreshed right away. In that moment, I came away with the following realization:
“Stop doing what you think you should be doing.
Do what you want to do, do what makes you feel good,
do what you feel inspired to do.
Remember that in your world, you make up the rules.
Stress is optional.”
~ Tina Su
… So, this is my new motto.
Try it out.
Let me know how it works for you.
* What do you think? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below. See you there!