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The Art of Happiness

Photo of Gala Darling by Chloe

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.

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About the author

Tina Su is a mom, a wife, a lover of Apple products and a CHO (Chief Happiness Officer) for our motivational community: Think Simple Now. She is obsessed with encouraging and empowering people to lead conscious and happy lives. Subscribe to new inspiring stories each week. You can also subscribe to Tina on Facebook.

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41 thoughts on The Art of Happiness

  1. Harsha

    Ryan is SOOO cute

  2. Hi Tina – What you say is so true. I have been there myself but I didn’t waken up as quickly as you did. When my kids were small, I barely saw them because I was working. Eventually, I asked myself the same question as you – “If this was the last day of my life, would I be glad that I spent it like this.”

    And the answer was a definite no. Work will always be there but Ryan won’t be a baby for long. Enjoy it while you can.

  3. Ray

    handsome little boy :)

  4. Love that new motto of yours! It’s fantastic!! :) Thank you for sharing your experiences and inspiring thoughts here.

  5. Dear Tina,
    That was such a simple and beautiful article. The beauty is in being isn’t it? Joy and happiness should be our focus and it is our world so we can make our rules. Am stuck somewhere where you are? Get to work or be with a loved one and family as he recovers. I seem to be getting the same message from your blog and another one I read today. …Be in the moment, don’t create work , find the joy. Thank u for this.

  6. Hahaha – you have an uncanny art for distilling the true message and delivering it in such an enlightening way Tina.

    Thank you for this timely reminder that I need to be present for my kids a lot more. Our boys are a bit older now, but they still need us to ‘be there’ 100% for them on a regular basis.

    When I finish this sentence, the computer goes ‘off’ and I go out to play with them in the yard… :)

  7. Hi Tina,

    I’m glad to finally read an article by you once again :)

    As a natural leader and go getter, I must admit that I’d most likely be in your same situation and might even hire a baby sitter to take care of my future new born to get work done–God forbid.

    I’m glad you can share this so that I can learn from it…

    All the best,


  8. Allegra

    I’m so sorry to hear that Ryan has colic. If you try using a baby carrier that might help him. A friend of mines baby had colic and she started carrying him in an Ergo baby carrier and it did not cure it but her baby wasn’t as sleep deprived and fussy. Anyways, I LOVED when you said moms and dads don’t get enough credit, so true! Ryan is darling btw.

  9. div

    Superb article…………. Always make yourself happy………. Listen to your heart…….. and you will be happy……….Trust Me……… It Works……….. :)

  10. Hey Tina great to see you back :)…Ryan is adorable…congrats…wishing you the best on the phase of your journey…be well :)

  11. Hi Tina,

    I can very much relate to your article. My wife and I were blessed a year ago with baby triplets. So, you can imagine the chaotic moments times 3. Babies don’t all nap at once…ever. They want to eat at different times, they are fussy at different times, etc.

    It is impossible to plan any substantive to do list so we stopped bothering.

    I work a 60 hours a week plus job, plus am a landlord for six buildings, front a band and write on my blog three times a week.

    ALL OF THAT, gets put on hold if my children need me.

    You HAVE to be able to multitask sometimes and you also have to be willing to let the chores go to spend time and care for your children.

    I do very much love your personal motto. It is perfectly correct and I wonder sometimes how people like myself who get caught up working two decades in the corporate world doing something they utterly dislike just for a paycheck to support a lifestyle are any better than the stoner who sits on the couch all day doing nothing….I think that I am a great deal worse than that person because at least the stoner is doing something they enjoy.

    But since my family of five now depends on my sole income, I have to build my passions when the children are in bed for the night, or when I squirrel myself away from my coworkers for my lunch hour. You find your pockets of time to do what you need to do.

    We all have the same 24 hour blocks and we all fill each moment doing something, whether that is mopping the floor, tickling a baby, or staring at your navel sitting on the couch.

    Many thanks again for your thoughtful article,

    – Charley

  12. Jytte

    Thanks so much for sharing your experience as a new mother. I have recently become pregnant and you have given me something to think aobut!

  13. Misty

    I often forward your articles to my family and friends. This one hit home today and truly brought tears to my eyes when the realization of this truth hit me. I loved reading it. Thank you from the very bottom of my heart for sharing such inspiring wisdom, Tina. You’re the best!

  14. Thank you for such an inspiring article. Sometimes you just need to stop and think what’s really important in your life.

    Enjoy spending this precious time with Ryan.

  15. “Do what you want to do, do what makes you feel good,
    do what you feel inspired to do.” – Well, do you feel good and inspired by changing diapers? – Well, maybe the first 50 times it can be something you can use for personal development, but I guess after 250 changed diapers you learned everything that is to be learned from changing diapers.

    And I can’t imagine who only to do what inspires me, when children decide other. Currently our old can tell that toilet session needed but you need to run to help him – could be while the other one is crying because hungry.

    No, stress is not an optional and it does not solely depend on yourself.

  16. Love the article, Tina! It’s funny – I had an almost opposite experience of new motherhood. I knew I “should” find my new little baby endlessly fascinating, but my goodness … I just wanted to WORK! That was what I really WANTED to do.

    It took me about two years to get over the guilt of loving my business. Now I have structured motherhood in a way that is fulfilling to me as both an entrepreneur AND mom.


  17. WOW! This was inspiring – I found it through I am a mother of 3 (the oldest isn’t quite 4), and as I am reading your article, I was seeing my past week. Over the past few months I have been running myself ragged, my daughter would want me to read her a book, and I would keep saying later, later – I have to make dinner, I have to clean, I have to get this done. Finally – the look of sadness made me think – how would I feel if my mother didn’t have “time” for me. I stopped, and started doing what your article said. Being in the moment. The girls and I gardened together, we went to the park, read books in the library. You know what – I have those moments now, I remember what I did – vs. the routine of trying to have a spotless house. The dustbunnies will be there when the kids are older. Thanks for the inspiration!

  18. My son is 6 months old. Up until his birth, I worked full time from home. I still blog and do some freelance writing. I *completely* related to your post!! It’s sometimes difficult to remember what things are truly important and what things we attribute importance to that really don’t matter much at all in the grand scheme of life. It may be a morbid way to look at it, but I like to think it like this: When I’m on my death bed, will I bemoan not finishing the dishes that one day back when I was 27 or will I be grateful that I gave my son all the love and attention I have to give?

  19. Melyssa

    Hi Tina,

    I found your article on finding true love several months ago and was totally moved and inspired. You have a truly magical way with words and your article moved me as have the others that I read subsequently. The past couple of years have been painful and sad: my parents died and I discovered them, my marriage has foundered, I lost my job and and I am losing my family home. I found myself searching for some anchor to hang onto and your website has been very helpful to me. More than anything, I want to find the happiness that you discuss in this post. I don’t want to merely survive, but to thrive. Sometimes it shocks me to realize that there are people in this world who don’t want that for me, but I try not to let that stop me. So thank you for writing so honestly and movingly; I wish there were more genuine people like you in this world.

    By the way, your son is so beautiful and precious; you are truly blessed.

    Thanks again,

  20. Free Spirit

    If this was true I would never pay my bills and only go to work when I felt like it. When my child cries I would ignore him if only I could…Oh the theories just never work in my actual life. :(

  21. I love your quote Tina. I think you’re doing a fantastic job raising your little boy. And he’s so incredibly adorable too!

    I’ve read a lot about the frazzled mom thing… maybe we just have such high expectations of continuing with what we used to get done before having children.

    Kudos to you for finding a way that makes you happy, and Ryan too – I’m sure! :) *big hugs*

  22. Kishore

    Nice post …and Ryan is cute :)

  23. Jenny

    So cute little guy!

    admire you to be a mom.

  24. Thank you for sharing this. I always need to be reminded of being in the moment…especially when it comes to being with my kids. Take the time and enjoy it, you’ll never get it back. That’s for sure. Love your new mantra.

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