There are some days, some weeks at times, when holding onto your Happiness can be a struggle. Let’s face it, no matter how idyllic we would like to create the world we live in, there are times when reality just barges through that door, plants itself in the chair and kicks back with its mucky boots on your table. It’s not that you are frenemies or even enemies, but to steal a line from Mickey Rourke in Barfly you “…seem to feel better when they’re not around.” Not the friendliest of house guests, once settled in and running roughshod over your Happy, Reality refuses all polite attempts to shoo it back out the door.
I have had my ups and downs with that clash between my little world and reality, that fight between what “should be” and what actually “is”. Some have led me pretty far into the darkness, but with the help of counselors, friends, and family I have overcome and learned some valuable lessons that have helped me place breadcrumbs and candles along the path, should I travel there again.
Just like planning for winter or lean times, you can plan ahead for those times when it’s a struggle. That whole “Reap what you sow” works both ways, so planting good things allows you to harvest them in times of need. A few things I have learned along the way, things that help me plan for Reality’s visits and create a more hospitable atmosphere for us both are:
- We Create Our Own Happiness
I know this sounds cliché, but let that settle in for a minute. Each and every one of us is responsible for our own happiness! That is an incredibly powerful thing!! It means that not only do you have the ability to change your general outlook, BUT THAT NO ONE CAN TAKE IT AWAY!!! That’s right, think about it. If you take responsibility for creating your own mood, finding the joy in your day, searching for a silver lining in each shitty situation… YOU OWN YOUR HAPPY.
- YOU Get To Choose Your Perspective
It’s a funny thing, when good things happen to you oftentimes you will find that there are the little annoying birds that fly around picking at the big beautiful harvest, trying to steal pieces of your joy in that moment. I’m sure you have heard something like “don’t jinx it” or “this is great, but…” And just watch the vultures circle if it isn’t a positive thing. Remember how I just said YOU own that Happy? Well, YOU own how you choose to look at a situation, too. Good or bad, YOU control how you react and what you can gain from it. I spent a long time in abusive relationships where I gave my power away, allowing someone else to control my perception of my accomplishments and stumbling blocks. When I made a conscious decision to regain that power, I realized I could choose to continue to look through their lens or start to examine MY life thorough my own. I started to make a concerted effort to find the silver linings in each situation, basically harvesting the seeds of each experience for my Happy garden. If you can find some tiny positive, even if its “I made it through today and will do so tomorrow”, you are taking power and regaining ownership of the situation.
- Stay In The Moment
As a society we tend to live our lives anytime but in the here and now. Yet the only thing we actually have any control of is NOW. How we choose to react, to focus on in this very moment, and whether to put that positive spin on it are all within our power. I will admit, this one is probably one of the hardest for me. Yet the work I have put into changing my focus has helped me deal with my panic attacks more effectively. Definitely one of the things I harvest frequently.
- Celebrate Your Happy
I have filled my walls with pictures of my kids and I, documenting memories of trips and mini adventures where we captured our joy on camera as a reminder of good times. We have made lake and ocean water jars to bring a piece of our home state to our relocated one. We have small and silly traditions, both at home and when we travel to keep us in touch with particularly happy memories. If something made you joyful, celebrate it, joyfully, publicly, and often! You will find that its infectious when you do!
While this list may not be instantly life changing, these concepts were incredibly helpful once I moved from the nice pasted smile and polite head nod to really examining their worth for my life. No one will ever have all the answers, but hopefully something here sparked an idea that will help you pursue your own garden to have in times of need.