Are you happy? Like truly happy? I ask because in the middle of this pandemic I’m starting to understand that, sadly, it appears that not many people are truly happy. Seriously, if the amount of rage and anger being manifested across the nation is any indication, I’d say I’m right on the money. Truth be told, I’m kinda shocked. We live in a country where anything is possible, where we are free to assemble our lives in any fashion we choose. Why people choose to spend their days doing anything but going about the business of making themselves happy is beyond me, but they do. I think maybe these people have a false sense of what creates happiness. Like, many think money is the key to a blissful life. I thought that. I thought that for a long time. But then I woke from the fog and discovered How To Be Happy.
Doing What You Love
Not long ago, maybe two weeks ago, I published a post on Facebook. What it was of, I honestly can’t remember, but I obviously thought it was post worthy. Personally, I liked it, but I can’t for the life of me comprehend how to forecast or foresee how anything I post on social media will be received. Sometimes the coolest, most amazing video or photo in my eyes is a dud. Other times I post something that I think is kinda boring, and it’s received like ice water in the middle of the desert. So, I post without any anticipation of the reaction of our followers, maybe that’s why we have so many. Or maybe that’s why we don’t actually have many … I don’t know.
So this post, again, was of something I don’t recall, but the reception was memorable. One of my favorites is from a long time KelloggShow fan who is childless. “You make parenting appealing.” To me, that is a huge compliment. I mean, I am one who believes kids make the world a much better place. And if you parent them well, they do the same as adults. As you may know, my entire life is dedicated to being a wife and mom. I’m a homemaker, a stay-at-home mom. As such, I have made many so-called “sacrifices” on behalf of my family.
For me, these sacrifices are hard to see. Hard to see because 1) I don’t dwell on sacrifice. 2) I genuinely love my life. 3) Dan and I have set out to make our lives extraordinary.
It’s difficult to swallow the discontent that circulates on Facebook. The downtrodden views of our fellow compatriots. The endless need to be relevant and essential … to be liked. It saddens me to think that comments and likes are the way in which people judge themselves. We are children of the one true king, we are relevant and essential and beloved as a result of this fact, no need to seek outside approval.
And now, amidst the chaos and onerous struggle that this pandemic has forced upon us, it is even worse. The carefully constructed lives…obliterated. No school, no entertainment, no escape. Some have lost their jobs, others, like my husband, have lost significant hours and/or clients. Life is hard out there and I’m not going to lie and say it hasn’t affected us negatively, but for the most part, in regards to our daily lives, we are holding on to normalcy because we have trained out brains to be optimistic and refuse to wallow in self pity.
Have Fun Everyday
No excuses. Make sure that every day you grab your kids and your spouse and do something you love. Be it tennis or paintball or biking or swimming, when you get home, regardless of how exhausting your day was, round up the troops and get to recreating. No matter where you are in your pursuit of your goals, no matter how bad your financial situation is, no matter how stressed you are, no matter how much you want to be alone, this is the fastest route to owning a little piece of the happiness pie.
Right now, during this pandemic, is probably the best time to start. It is the most opportune time, in fact, because having fun, exercising and raising your heartbeat have a multitude of health benefits, including the release of endorphins. Endorphins trigger a positive feeling in the body, that leaves you feeling euphoric. That feeling, known as a “runner’s high,” is accompanied by a positive and energizing outlook on life.
Regular exercise with your family will reduce stress, ward off anxiety, improve your sleep and, perhaps most important, give your mind a rest from all the overthinking and problem solving you engage in on the daily. So, before you plop down in front of the TV or login on social media, use that time to improve your mood, your health and improve your family bonds.
Build a Life Around Your Passions
When Dan and I first got married, we followed all the rules and we were not unhappy, but we weren’t ecstatic either. The commute, the 9 to 5, the living for weekends, having to get approval for time off, the scrounging for 2% raises and kissing ass to get promotions. It was not for us. Honestly, I think most of can say that.
Fear, kept us from following through on any big change, the biggest was Dan wanted out of NOVA more than anything. He hated the big city life. And then one night we saw a Warren Miller film that depicted the exact life we wanted. Ski bums! Yes! But, we had kids and a sense of responsibility, so we did the ski bum thing, with jobs. Within 30 days of seeing that film, we had sold our home and were on our way, sight unseen, to the Colorado High Rockies…5 kids in tow.
I tell you this story because somehow, by sheer “accident” a passion was ignited and we found our courage to at least chase a part of our dream, the rest would unfold over several years time.
Ask questions. What is your passion? Maybe snowboarding? Or perhaps it’s health? Travel? Service? Or something else entirely? Once you identify that, watch as many inspiring films, read as much about the lives, the places, the people who make up this thing you love. Start to make some preliminary plans, do some research. Network. And when you are sufficiently motivated and most fear has been squelched, go get it.
Encourage Your Kids To Have Passions
We moved to Colorado to live the life of (responsible) ski bums, but in the process we found so much more. As we taught our kids to snowboard, they fell in love with it as well. And while they love snowboarding, it is a seasonal sport and it’s not in our budget to tour the world in search of snow. Hence, as our kids grew, we found things that we loved to do in the summer, in the spring and in the fall as well. Dan introduced us all to dirt biking and it has turned into a passion that we don’t only all enjoy, but has also turned into a business for two of our kids. We discovered kayaking together and it’s something we all share and love and it has shown us a world we never knew existed.
You see, without kayaking, we likely would not have discovered RV’ing, which means we would not have had the incredible experiences traveling in such close quarters. And without RV’ing it’s unlikely we would have ever discovered our appetite for world travel. And without world travel we would not know of our fondness for foreign language learning, which means we would not have been privvy to the opportunities that are presenting themselves to us today that have the potential to change our lives so drastically.
You see life parallels the “If you Give A Mouse A Cookie” story. We are the mice. Each experience, each new awakening, fills us with newness and changes our life course. God has entrusted us to raise children with their eyes on eternal life with Him. It’s our responsibility to open as many doors for our kids to help them in their quest to find their calling in His army.
Limit or Eliminate Social Media
I’ve been saying this for years to my kids, social media is a stealer of joy. It is an all consuming, mind altering drug that is both addictive and harmful. There are countless studies that all but prove that social media causes anxiety, feelings of loneliness, and increases depression in those who are predisposed. Not only that but the constant prattle about Covid, the media generated fear mongering, death tolls, the incessant banter about masks and “Karen’s” and BLM and infighting, and violence and terror, I mean seriously, how does that improve your life? How does that contribute in a positive way to your mental health and that of your family?
Do yourself a favor and first remove all social media platforms from your phone and then maybe allow yourself an allotted time each day (say 30 minutes) where you answer emails, and post on Facebook. After that, it’s be productive and have fun time. Make a commitment to be present with your wife, your kids, exercising, actually working and having fun.
Ambition and goals are great, they keep you focused and offer you the promise of a better life, something to look forward to, freedom, liberty and motivation. On the other hand maybe you begin to feel like a failure that you aren’t moving fast enough to the end goal. Or perhaps you begin to berate yourself for letting too many other important things go as you chase down your objective.
It’s hard to stay positive as you strive for goals that seem so far away, but gratitude is the gift that keeps on giving. Taking daily stock of your blessings keeps you grounded and joyful. I recently discovered journaling and have been keeping stock of my daily life. I’ve found it to be one of the best ways to manifest success, happiness and growth in all facets of life. It offers clarity and fosters a sense of gratefulness when you intentionally make a point to look for positive opportunities and shift into an optimist mindset!