I was fortunate enough to spend a couple of hours with a good friend of mine this morning (and you know who you are), and our main topic of discussion was happiness--finding it, and maintaining it. It was a great conversation and I hope she walked away from it feeling as rewarded as I did. She always asks me some pretty profound questions, and today she asked, "How do you manage to stay happy in a world so full of conflict and misery and chaos?" (along those lines!) What a question! It inspired more talking, and then, after leaving, even more thinking on my part. Here is what I have come up with so far. . . .
1. I surround myself with people I love. If I don't love--or at least really like them, unless I have to somehow work with them--I keep my distance. For those I love, I touch, hug, and kiss often. Repeat.
2. I surround myself with positive affirmations . . they are all over my walls in every single room. Happy sayings, sayings about family, love, friends, gratitude, happiness, kindness . . . every. single. room. In the living room alone, I have 20 or more. Too much? Probably, but I believe it works.
3. I focus on doing what I love as much as possible. Do I have to do things I do NOT love? Sadly, yes. That makes me human. But if I do, I give myself rewards in between. Finish this project and you can decorate some envelopes. Write this assignment and you get to go get coffee with Joseph. And so on.
4. I don't watch the news. Yeah, I know. Ostrich Tami . . but really, I do keep up with headlines, but I can NOT watch local or national news about murder and starvation and kids dying and stupid people . . if I did, I couldn't get up in the morning. And most of all, WATCHING it will not make a difference.
5. I focus on making my home happy and full of love. My kids are loved and listened to and supported. I know that by raising wonderful children, they will go out and make their own differences in the world.
6. I choose ways to make a difference, even though it may be small. I write letters of comfort to those in need. Send gifts. Get involved in organizations like ChemoAngel. I help anyone I see that I can--with carrying something, finding something, paying for something. If there is an opportunity and I able to do it, I will.
7. I focus on laughter. I laugh with my kids EVERY DAY. I tell jokes. I laugh in the dark with Joseph. I watch funny TV shows. I read funny books. I skip past the negative Facebook videos and watch the stupid ones that make me smile. Or the returning-soldier-to-family videos that make me cry happy tears.
8. I search hard for that silver lining. It may be buried, but if it is there, I swear I will find it.
9. I count my blessings. I try to always remember how fortunate I am. There is always someone out there who has it worse, and I need to focus on gratitude.
10. I remember the saying "To become, act as if." If I want to be happy, I will act as if I am . . and suddenly, life improves.
So, does this mean I am always happy? No, life gets in the way now and then (like sending me kidney stones or gout). And money and &*!)($)(%&*@ taxes become problems. Or the kids are struggling and I am worrying. Or I miss people I love and can no longer see for one reason or another. Or someone is rude or ugly to me. Or . . . whatever. But in the end, when the day is over and I crawl into bed next to a man I adore and who thinks I am beautiful, all I can feel is gratitude. Oh yeah, and that happiness I mentioned. Lots and lots of that.