A Few of My Favorite Things

Could I have chosen a more challenging time to pursue happiness?! With the government shutdown and my husband facing furloughs next week, you’d think I’d postpone my little experiment. Yet, for the first time in months, my husband and I are smiling virtually all the time. Have we gone insane?

Almost. I think that sometimes you have to be pushed to the brink in order to take stock of your life and recalibrate your internal happy meter. And my husband and I did just that. Frankly, we’ve been pretty miserable for a variety of reasons, and we weren’t really sure what the solution was or what was going to happen.

So, having safely returned from the brink, here’s what happened during my two-week pursuit of the second habit of supremely happy people: Smile when you mean it. More specifically, think of something happy and then smile about it. Let me just say that this is much more difficult than I thought it would be. When I first discovered that my husband could be furloughed, all I could do was panic. How were we going to pay our bills? Would we slide further into debt, never to emerge? What would we do without health insurance if my baby got sick?

Conjuring up a happy thought in the midst of my worried questions was impossible.

When I was finally able to squeeze out a happy memory–hiking through my favorite woods–I immediately countered the weak glimmer of happiness that peaked through with the realization that my happy memory is of an event that happened several years ago. Didn’t I have a more recent happy memory to pull from? No… How pathetic!

All of this coincided with an emotional discussion with my husband about our happiness. We’d allowed ourselves to get bogged down by life: bills, debt, isolation from friends and family, the strangeness of a new town. We’d forgotten the keystone of our marriage… LOVE. Instead of supporting each other through trying times, we’d each retreated to our own corners, just trying to get through each day. What a terrible way to go through life.

With a renewed commitment to love each other (I know this sounds terribly sappy, but there it is), we’re suddenly able to withstand the tribulations of life with a smile on our faces. Rather than spending the weekends running errands and running ourselves ragged, we’re setting aside time just to enjoy life. The week starts up again, and we’re feeling re-energized, not further depleted.

We’re busy creating new happy memories–memories we can draw from and smile at when the necessity arises.

This habit makes me think of the song “My Favorite Things” from The Sound of Music. “When the dog bites,” it’s important to have happy thoughts on reserve–be it kittens’ whiskers or something your spouse said that made you laugh.

sound-of-music

Next up: Being Resilient.

Photo credit: Perth Now

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