Happy, like anything else it takes practice to be good at it.

happy
Sheryl and Chloe, Cincinnati Girl Noticed

“If you think this world as a place intended simply for your happiness, you find it quite intolerable: think of it as a place of training and correction and it’s not so bad” C.S. Lewis

I don’t know if your like me, but I’ve spent most of my life trying to figure out happy. I mean generally, yes I am, but deep down in the gut of things I search, I dissect and I yearn for the true meaning of that word. I could spend hours and pages listing the likes of what has made me unhappy in my life, but have trouble finding just a few sentences to describe the real “happy’ I think I deserve.

“Deserve”, I love that word. I tend to throw it around quite often. I deserve, and I most definitely deserve happy. Happy should be sitting on a silver platter waiting for me each day to pick it up and carry it around with me. I think because of my struggles, my obstacles and the hurt and pain I’ve endured I should be given happy as a gift, wrapped in pretty paper and tied neatly with a bow. But is that a backwards way of thinking? To think that my happiness should be measured by the things that have made me unhappy? Happiness is there, it always has been, and yes it is a gift, but its not so much I deserve it, as its mine to have anytime I want it, as much as I can handle of it.  It’s just going to take some practice. Maybe because once I have it I’m not quite sure what to do with it, how to handle it, nurture it, make it grow.

You can’t just think about being happy, you have to live being happy. Habits are replaced with habits.  All the stuff you do to yourself that makes you unhappy, makes you feel bad about yourself, weather it be negative self talk, overeating, not making it to the gym today, not enough time with your loved ones, relationships that don’t serve you, over working, saying yes, when you wanted to say no, too much time staring at your phone, tv or whatever other source you use to blur out life. Those things can only be replaced by other habits. Good ones. They’re not hard to figure out, they just seem hard to stick to, to nail down and say, “Today I make me happy”. It’s easier just to fall back onto the old bad habit. We’re comfortable there. It snuggles us like a warm blanket. Good lord, throw off the blanket and go live your life! Easier said than done? Yes I know, I want to go crawl back under the blanket at the end of the day as well.

The reality is I am given the gift every day to correct old behaviors, learn new ways to happiness. There may always be times where things feel so heavy, so impossible, so unfair and that I feel I have no control over what is happening. But can I learn to make it through those times looking back and knowing I’m stronger, wiser and maybe even a better person because of them? Can I be grateful for every moment? I mean every single one? Because they all hold lessons, they all hold opportunities for growth, for correction, for change. Do I appreciate all the little things? Things I take for granted like the sun shining, and the slow steady breathing of my dog pressed next to me as I type this?

Happiness is mine, it’s yours. It’s deliberate and a choice. In the messy, piercing ache of now happiness is possible, its always present waiting for us to take hold of it. Why did I select the photo above for this post?  You can see the joy in this photograph, you can see the now. Stop right where you are, look inside yourself and choose now, choose happy. There you go, see that, you just practiced. Now let’s get good at it.

Peace

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How can we have it in the world, when we’re constantly at war with ourselves? By the age of 11 or 12, I had had an ample amount of experiences where I felt judged, embarrassed, shamed or less than to figure out I didn’t need other people or outside forces to make me feel less than, I could do it all by myself. Through negative self talk, I’m not popular enough, athletic enough, pretty enough, skinny enough, talented enough, smart enough, organized enough the list goes on and on, and as a result, I developed my self worth.

By the time I was in my early twenties it was clear, I surely wasn’t enough. At 23 I was already married and had given birth to my twins, Grace and Gianni. This would make me enough. But now I had new shortcomings to add on top off my ever growing list. Now I wasn’t a good enough wife, I didn’t want sex enough, I didn’t keep the house clean enough, and my skills in the kitchen certainly weren’t enough. As a mom I constantly questioned, do I discipline enough, do I teach my kids what they need in life enough, do I give enough of my attention, do I nurture enough, do I encourage enough? As a professional do I work enough, make enough, know enough, blah blah blah.

Good lord it’s exhausting, no wonder we can’t find peace. And I say we because I know this list is not all that foreign to you and you can probably add several things to it. But let’s get back to the word “peace”. When was the last time you felt like you really had it? A day at the beach, a spa day, a good book in a quiet place? How about everyday peace? Is that even possible?

Ok I have to share… I’m writing this in the airport and sitting across from me a little chihuahua just went nuts barking and scared half of us out of our seats. The owner, an elderly lady, pulled out a water bottle long after the dog had calmed down and holding the dog like a purse pointed it at her face saying quite sternly “no bark, no bark”. Now we all know that wasn’t to really discipline the dog, especially since no water was squirted. That was to show all of us she was in control. She needed to make a statement that she was completely capable of controlling the 6lb ball of ferocious fur. I’m sure it brought her some peace the smiles a few of us gave her that it was all ok, but the glares from the other passengers had her completely unraveled.

Do you have peace stealers? Worrying about what other people think? Saying yes when you really want to say no? Worrying about paying your bills? About loosing weight? If your partner is cheating on you? Or do they love you at all anymore? Are the kids making the grades, behaving? It’s an endless list when it comes to our kids!

I don’t have a magic answer to slay the peace stealers, but what I do know is we can begin to take our peace back. One of my biggest peace stealers is that I procrastinate and put things off I’m not comfortable doing, often making what isn’t a big deal turn into one because I’ve put it off for so long instead of just dealing. Guess what, there’s an answer. I could just do it. Oh that’s silly, I’d rather stress myself out, put it off,  loose sleep and suffer the consequences.

What’s stealing your peace? What peace do you steal from others? Can you change it? Or maybe it’s just accepting its out of your control and you just have to let it be? Trust it will all be ok.

I’m coming home from a trip to see my mom. It’s been two years. My mom stresses me out. She steals my peace. Actually NO, she really doesn’t. Just like when I was a kid I’ve learned to do that all by myself. I want to control and change things, and because she doesn’t become what I want her to be, I live in a constant state of “no peace” or stress when I am around her. Was this visit easy, not always. Was it stressful? Sometimes. Did I loose my patience? No. Normally I would have, but this time I said I’d accept my mom exactly the way she is, the same way I expect and want her to accept me. I can’t tell you how much peace that brought me. We were probably both a little less stressed because of that simple decision.

I’m a constant work in progress, but I’m learning the work doesn’t have to be so hard. We make it hard. I do want peace in my life. So I’m willing to work towards it, I’m willing to trust that what I can’t control will take care of itself. I do the next right thing and other things seem to fall into place. Then and only then I start to feel better about myself. I’m finally figuring out this self worth thing. We give it to ourselves. No one else can give it to us. That means we are in charge of just how much we have.

Today measure your self worth, find your peace. Once you’ve found it, then you can share it, and one by one we just might make this world a better place.