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Creating Happiness

This year I started off super antsy. After coming out of a year where the family and I took an amazing trip back to England, I came eager to travel some more. I always come back from England, where I was born, feeling nostalgic, yearning for a simpler, more country based life, and feeling a strong pull to go back. January has felt like it’s been 85 days long already, and I found myself starting the month off NEEDING change in whatever form I can get. I need some change, and I need things to look forward to. It brings me happiness.

I’ve always been a firm believer that one CHOOSES to be happy. As someone who grew up struggling with depression and anxiety, I had to make some solid life changes. It had become so bad I was in a very dark, sad place. I woke up one day and realized just how bad it had gotten, and knew something had to change. Depression is much deeper than a simple attitude shift, trust me, I know. That being said, the first step for me in learning to manage and come out the other side of depression was to find ways of changing my mindset. The first thing I needed to realize was that I can’t always change a situation, but I can change my mindset about how to deal with it. I can choose how I look at things, or research things to learn to see things a different way. Once I started choosing and really trying to look at things from different perspectives, I noticed a break in the doom and gloom. It helped me to start the process of managing things much better.

My mom once told me…”no matter how bad things get, someone is always worse off than you”, which helps to keep things in perspective sometimes. I remember my dad recounting a story of when my parents when to a huge business dinner in NYC. The dinner was a big deal, and mother, despite being in terrible pain from a degenerating disc in her spine, was determined to go. She needed a cane, and was struggling to walk. My father looked at her, struggling, and said “maybe we should just go back to the room and forget the dinner….you don’t have to put yourself through this”. My mother turned and said “I’ve been looking forward to this dinner for ages, and remember, no matter how bad things get, there is always someone who has it harder, or worse off than me. I can do this!”. Just then the elevator door opened, and inside was a man who only had one leg. My mother glanced at my father and proceeded to head to dinner. She knew that happiness is realizing what you have, that things could always be worse, and being grateful that your struggles are your own. Someone once said if everyone threw their stuggles in a bowl, most of us would all grab our own back. Frankly, we don’t know what others are dealing with, and at the end of the day, struggles are often minimal when you see what others are struggling with. I am an oft repeater of “silver linings!” Even when things are bad, one can usually find a silver lining if they look harder enough. Even if it’s a small one.

But I digress.

Winter is a tough time for many, especially those with depression or Seasonal Affective Disorder. While I don’t struggle like I used to, I do make a conscious choice to plan things to look forward to. Why? Because on a bad day, I can look at my calendar and despite the busy chaos, I can see a vacation, a trip, or a school event I am happy about. This reminds me that happy days are ahead. I am excited to go visit my dad soon. This usually also entails not only a happy time with him and my step mom, but also a dinner out with my close friends I don’t get to see very often. Always fun. I am excited about a family vacation I have planned. While it won’t be cheap, it gives me a goal, something to work towards, and something exciting to share with the husband and kids. I have a few day trips planned, one just by myself, to spend a day wandering and sight seeing. There is a school field trip I am chaperoning, which made my daughter beam ear to ear when I told her.

These trips and events keep me looking forward in a positive manner. I LOVE my job and what I do, but I have stressful days like everyone else. On those stressful days, I remind myself those extra hours or that hard work is earning me money towards a vacation. When I am cleaning the house (which admittedly I’m not great at….have you seen the title of my blog?) and I find change people have left everywhere, I am at least excited to put it in the vacation fund. When January hit and stomach bugs and flu arrived at our house, I console myself that we’re getting it out of the way now and will be healthy again hopefully for the happy events planned. Having something to look forward to brings happiness.

Not only do I plan the event, I plan little, simple things about it that bring me joy. Some of these revolve around food. That probably explains why I am working on losing some weight….10 pounds down so far! For example, the trip to NYC I have in mind. I am already planning and excited to go to Tea and Sympathy for dessert. Why? Because they have one of my favorites there. It’s a British tea shop, and their rhubarb and custard reminds me of being a kid in England. When visiting my dad I always go for fajitas at my favorite place. It was a place I used to go to with my mom. While the food is delicious, the memories it conjures up are happy ones spent with my parents and friends. Happiness is a feeling, and being as sentimental as I am, I always lean towards it.

Looks like it’s going to be an exciting (and yummy!) year!

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How not getting what I wanted gave me everything I need.

I’m going to step away from the TV chat this morning.  I’m going to also preface this blog post by saying that I’m not a big country music fan, nor do I follow any particular religion (although different strokes for different folks!).  The reason I say that is because all morning I’ve had a very old Garth Brooks song in my head that states “Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers”,   If you’re not of the religious sort you could exchange God for Life and prayers for wants, and the message still stands true.  Much of what I’ve wanted in life hasn’t always been what I’ve needed. 

When I was younger, I always waffled on what I wanted to “be” when I grew up.  For a while it was a dolphin trainer, then a lawyer, then a psychologist. (None of these came to fruition).  I remember changing my mind along the way to “I want to get married, have kids, pets and be happy.”  That was my goal.  Everything else seemed like the icing on the cake.  Along the way though, there were numerous times that I wanted, no BEGGED life to give me what I thought would make me happy,  The boyfriend who wouldn’t commit that I believed would make me happy, the job that made me go for 5 interviews only to not hire me.  Even though I often say I want my house spotless, upon thinking about it this morning, I’m not sure I do.  Why?

That boyfriend I wanted to commit so bad?  He strung me along for years only to cheat and not be there when I needed him.  I swore to everyone that he was the one for me.  I wanted it to work.  Yet, I didn’t need it to. I learned a lot from that relationship.  My friends call me the runaway bride because I’ve been engaged a few times, but I always broke it off because deep down, I knew they weren’t right.  The best piece of advice my mother ever gave me was that if a man didn’t think I was priceless and “better than sliced bread” then he wasn’t the man for me.  That was the BEST advice I have ever received.  My Mr. is all I could have dreamed for, and all because I listened to my mommy and waited for the right guy rather than settling.

The job I wanted?  The one that made me go on about 5 interviews and take tests and put me through the ringer only to not hire me?  Ugh, the frustration and defeat they made me feel!  You know what happened to the person who did get hired?  Laid off, along with the rest of the office when they just closed it down!  Meanwhile, I got a different job, a few weeks later, that treats me well and I enjoy it. 

The spotless house?  Hmm. YES, the toys and clutter from everyone drives me mad, but with kids comes toys and stuff and thinks not always put away by them.  I’m an only child, so learning to share my space with not one person but 3 people has been a bit of a lesson.  I’d never trade my family for anything, and if a little clutter means I’m surrounded by love, then so be it.  If they would pick up their socks though, well that would be just dandy!

What I’m getting at, is that if I actually got what I wanted at the time, or what I thought I wanted, I wouldn’t have what I really need, or what I have now.  My life isn’t perfect. I don’t have everything I always want.  I do, however, have what I need to keep my base happiness factor solid.  I’ve learned to be happy with what I have, and to know that sometimes, I may not get what I want.  Sure, it sucks in the moment, but often what I get after is MORE than what I could have hoped for. 

Be kind to yourself, Loveys!

MissMessy xx