I’ve been on a quest to find happiness in my life.
At first, I thought if only I’d get this fixed then I’d find happy. This resulted in me looking at my kids and juxtaposing a great deal of if/only stipulations on them. You know what I mean – if/only you’d keep your room clean, be grateful, do your homework, not fight with your brother, get up on time, and so forth.
I quickly learned that contrived order dependent upon an if/only variable as a mother simply doesn’t bring happiness.
Instead it leaves me, the mom, woman, business owner in a state of perpetually feeling behind as I chase after elusive order in the quest of happiness. And as any of you know, laundry is never done, kids puke and order as a mom almost is impossible. So I wrote about how if/then is a really dangerous way to live because then one lives their lives on hold. Which, as you might guess, means happiness is on hold.
So if it wasn’t order then what would make happy?
I wrote about forgetting how to be happy – I really thought I forgot – because it felt like life was racing by at an exponential pace and here I was sputtering to even stand up. And then, when I’d dare to put a foot in front of the other, life would race by again knocking me down. I was getting really quite tired of gashed knees and hurt hearts and standing up again and again. So instead of racing so hard I decided to get really really really good at the order part and the mom part and in that process got really really really good at forgetting about myself.
I realized one cannot allow themselves to forget themselves in motherhood. (If you are there – I’m your cheerleader telling you that you are worth it. And I know some of you will have doubts, but please let my words cut through that chatter and settle in your heart somewhere and take root.)
So then I thought – maybe I should just simplify my life and exit the crazy. Simple, right?
But for so many of us we can’t exit the crazy.
Make that discovery three. As much as we all love the idea of the 14 Simple Steps to an Easy Life it just isn’t possible. Life throws too many external variables at us. Divorce, finances, kids, life, friendship, money, maintenance and just every day stuff. And those variables, again if we think they can be controlled, will suck the happiness right out of our lives. And life takes WORK. I think we live in a culture where we think happiness might be separate from work. But it’s not – I’m happy often when my house is clean – which is a result of, well, you guessed it, work.
So then, discovery four, get this my friends, I thought that maybe I would ONLY allow myself to feel positive emotions.
Sounds great, right? I’d push and push and push aside anything that would hold me down. I’d shove it under the surface like my junk drawer (see illustration here) is shoved full of stuff that I didn’t want to deal with. And then once in a while I’d have enough. Which would warrant posts like Dear Mom Who Feels Like She is Going to Explode or The Mom Days When the Tears Fall. Obviously hiding from emotion isn’t the answer.
Enter now. The real truth about happiness.
Happiness, and being the happy mom and discovering ourselves can’t be forced. That’s the myth – that we can just blink our eyes and think happy thoughts. Instead, like in the Anthony Robbins Video that I shared on my Facebook page today it has to be something trained.
It has to be something we set our minds to because WE ARE WORTH IT.
We have to train ourselves to be this way. These are the words that struck me.
You get what you tolerate.
What we tolerate.
I’ve tolerated me living in chaos or overwhelm or in things not being happy. Not anymore. Not anymore. You know, there are some things from my past that have made me sad to deepest parts of my core. I have shoved them down and hid them and told myself they didn’t matter or that I was ridiculous for even feeling sad still. But today, today I recognized that I’m not ever going to move forward until I let myself feel sad and then MOVE ON. It was in the never dealing with it that I got stuck.
And when I heard that I realized for so so so long I had trained myself to be stressed and to be seeking happy and in the perpetual act of seeking happiness it basically means that it won’t be found. I’d always be seeking, chasing, looking for it. You know what? What I realized?
It’s right here, right under my nose.
It’s probably right there in front of your life as well.
I’m not perfect. Life can’t be controlled.
But we don’t have to tolerate existing in limbo for these years.
We can fight for our hearts – and for our kids – and to live with joy that is deep in the marrow of our bones. A joy that isn’t defined by the circumstance – by the color of paint on our walls or a number in our bank account or kids that always listen or by Hallmark looking lives – but by the purpose that we have on this earth. The beauty is we all have different unique roles (thanks to Steve Harvey for that reminder) – and when we allow ourselves to live in those spaces the happiness can return. Not forced, not contrived, but there.
But we do have to choose.
I believe in you just as much as I believe in me.
This isn’t some Miracle Cure Guarantee that you won’t have bad days again. Come on, we’re moms. And the truth is those kids we love will frustrated us. Let’s expect that rather than wonder what we’re doing wrong when it happens. When we expect the gamut of days then we also can expect ourselves to deal with the emotion. We can deal with the overwhelm, the frustration, the lack of sleep and in it all we can move forward.
Just because the day fell apart at 9am doesn’t mean it can’t be awesome at 9:10am.
I know I’ve been wordy and thinking lately but it’s because I believe it’s my mission right now to encourage you to really really LIVE your life knowing how valuable you are for you. To not live with your life on hold or in the wallows of despair or desperately seeking happy. We are not staying in that place, sisters. Maybe right now you have this itching desire to scream YES and maybe you have some deep fear and maybe it’s an inkling of hope that you’re afraid to believe. I believe it for you.
So stand up. Join me in running this race. Not alone.
The real risk in our journey, as moms and as women, is in thinking tomorrow we will get to this. Time will move, the race will run and we will be forever in the dust. So we’re going to fight. Hard. Tears will fall, we’ll have to let go of much, but we will win.
This is your year.
Your time is now.
Happiness will return.
To read about my ongoing quiets to find happiness read
I Forgot How to Be the Happy Mom
Thank you! You are completely right! This year I made the resolution to be a happy mom, but haven’t been successful in finding how to do it, until reading this.
Thank you for this!!!!
Hi, Rachel. We have so much in common though less kids for me, of course. I so often feel like I’m falling behind — there’s dirty laundry everywhere, the house is a total disaster, but I’m blessed because there was laughter this week and food on the table and work for me to do. I’m fighting so hard and I absolutely WILL NOT give up because this really is my year. I’m taking back my life and it feels so, so good.
Thankyou Rachel. Thankyou so much for your beautifully written, timely & profound piece. It bought tears to my eyes it was exactly what I needed to see today. This has been percolating under the surface for me & you have so eloquently blasted off the muck to show me the truth of it all shiny & clear. Bravo & Bless you xx
Rachel, I just wanted to let you know that your words are really helpful to me. When I first started reading your blog about a month ago, I thought “Where was she 10 years ago when my kids were little and all the blogs were all about being perfect and I was so depressed.” But even now when my kids are teenagers I have a lot of moments of self-doubt and feelings of failure. Then I look at my mom and see how she still suffers over things that happen to her kids in their 40s and 50s. This journey never ends. So we need to see things differently, and you really help with that. Thank you.
trying unsuccessfully to share this on FB it tells me it may have expired??
Oh that’s interesting…I’ve never had that happen before. Thank you for letting me know. And thank you for trying to share it – I really appreciate that.
just tried again & it says this content is no longer available & it may have expired or I may not have permission to share it?? I would have loved to share it. Appreciate your real posts!
Lovely post and I agree wholeheartedly! I have also decided to be happy every day. (It is not foolproof, but often sets the right tone for the day.) As I tell my students to Be Your Own Boss, *I* am the one who chooses to be happy or not.
Thanks as always, Rachel, for timely and needed thoughts!
I always come back to your website and it resonates to my core each time. Thank you so much for what you’re doing! You are an inspiration.
I realized that too lately. Einstein quote about life being two way, you either get to see things as miracles, or not, sticks to my mind. We have to choose happiness particularly in the difficult. The fun part is that it becomes a habit.
I also find that I have to shut the world around and be happy myself as an oxygen mask before helping others, be it my family or online readers. If not I become part of the problem. But doing so, we bloom.