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Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Happiness Crisis

“In daily life we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy.” ~Brother David Steindl-Rast
Photo courtesy of Tiny Buddah

In the past month I have read at least three books with a similar message...about living abundantly where you are, savoring small moments, finding pockets of time for yourself to enjoy the small things in life. Really great reads. Really uplifting. In that time, I have also had countless conversations with friends about similar topics as well as came across a few blog posts and many podcasts speaking the same message. This conversation is literally everywhere I turn. Coincidence? Uh, I don't think so.

Certainly if I am reading/hearing so much of this need and desire to seek happiness in the tiny moments and to just plain enjoy the life that is happening right in front of us that this is some sort of real problem with folks. A Pain Point. It feels like a Happiness Crisis... a problem that people are struggling with day to day. Why are we seeking these small moments and trying to learn to really appreciate what we have and where we are in life when we should be doing that without even thinking about it? What can I do to make sure this is no longer a struggle for me but just the way I live?

There are so many factors contributing to this crisis. Each very personal and very different based on the individual. For some, it's the age old issue of comparison. For others, we are simply too over scheduled and 'busy' that we're missing out on life itself and need to slow down. We are over thinking, over scheduled, over comparing ourselves, and working so hard to make our life Instagram-worthy that we're in fact missing it. Whoosh. That moment? Gone. What were you doing? Cruising through photos to pick just the right one, with the right filter and clever hashtag to place on your highlight reel of online life. Hey...I'm guilty as charged! Becoming aware of that has been a game changer for me. In fact, in the exact moment I'm doing it I usually am self-shaming myself for even BEING on social media to begin with...like in that EXACT moment thinking "You're lame...why do you care"" and I still do it. The struggle is real. And who REALLY cares about that moment you posted other than yourself? Okay...maybe your Mother and your closest friends. And the ones who do care would take you unfiltered and messy any day. After all, they are your friends and they know you yes? When they see you in the flesh you don't come with the Lark or Ludwig filter..sorry to burst your bubble.(Some days though that would be fantastic and do wonders for my complexion).

So what gives? Let's take away all social media ties, any online glory you are seeking and just pose the question which is what could you be doing to make your life a happy one? Maybe happy isn't even the right word...savor your life. What's right there in front of you?  Let's avoid things that require budgets that are currently out of reach to make us happy for the sake of being realistic (I'd like to travel the world, live in Montana on a million dollar ranch, own a vineyard, etc..) Start small. When was the last time you woke up one morning and just felt like "YES! Life is AMAZING!". For me, it was yesterday morning. And it was for a delightfully small and insignificant reason. It was chilly outside. Yep. I walked down to the bus stop with my son and wore a light little sweater while clutching my coffee and feeling that perfect crisp 62 and thought.."Thank goodness....life is amazing..once again!" (Georgia in August is awful and muggy and nasty so this was a real treat).


That tiny moment then spewed into other tiny moments. It set my entire day on the right track. I sat outside alone while both kids were in school drinking coffee and catching up on my emails feeling the before mentioned awesome weather. "Life is awesome" moment. Check, I looked up and learned the ukelele chords to "Banana Pancakes"  and didn't quit until I got it. Boom! ( practicing an instrument is always on my list of things to do and rarely do they see the light of day). I made myself a green smoothie and felt like I just did something healthy for myself. Woohoo! I got to shower and then actually dry my hair. The sky is falling! LIFE IS AWESOME.

Maybe life is more about the mindset. In the midst of that I even received some not great news about work and chose not to let it ruin my day.  Maybe if we take away all of the other non-necessary factors (we'll just keep using social media as an example but it could be any of the things that suck joy from your life...what you don't own, self shaming,weight issues, what you don't drive, the 'perfectly' curated closet you wish you had,whatever...) and woke up every day and decided to seek out that first "life is awesome"moment than my day is set. Being grateful creates happiness. Choosing gratitude over grumpiness. No sense in comparing anything with anyone....your moment and mine may be at far ends of the spectrum. They probably are.Who cares? What we really care about is our individual attitudes right? Our individual happiness.

Watching my children play outside, a walk in the woods, a perfectly made latte, being caught up on laundry, a clean house, a favorite song playing on the radio....tiny moments = big happiness. Grateful Heart = Great attitude. Let's all go out and get some.

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