Focus on being happy and the rest will follow.
Here's an example: Imagine its 5pm. The kids are tired and hungry. They're whining for food, for TV, for juice, for hugs. You're tired and stressed out. You're juggling the hot saucepan while trying to reason with your eldest who's throwing a tantrum because you mixed her peas in with her carrots. You're starting to panic because you've got company tonight and the house looks like a bomb hit it. Then your youngest throws his plate on the floor and splatters food everywhere. Pause …. What's your next response?
Throw a tantrum too?
Take a deep breath, laugh, or just relax?
Either choice ….. what's the difference of each response?
1. By throwing a tantrum or getting exasperated you choose to escalate the tension. You get angry, you huff and puff while clearing up the mess, you raise your voice and feel uptight. Your children feel bad, mommy's angry and it's their fault, they get whinier still vying for your attention. Your spiral of anger and frustration increases.
2. By laughing, or relaxing you choose to defuse it. You release the tension in your body, your children get to laugh with you "oops, look what just happened, lets be more careful next time, ok?" The tension evaporates; you remember how wonderful your children are. The whining is changed for playfulness.
In both cases, you still have to clear up the mess and prepare the house for guests – but it is not hard to see which response will be more fun, and bring more happiness to you and your children. You are not the victim here, you are in control – you choose your response, no one else does it for you.
Happiness is a Habit!
No one says being in control of your response is easy! The key is to keep practicing your response. Simply practicing and choosing to be happy will have an immediate impact on your outlook. Try this exercise …
… think about an event that brings you great joy – a fabulous achievement, a wonderful holiday, the birth of your child, your marriage day …. anything that you can remember clearly as being a happy time. Bring up the memory again in your mind, close your eyes and fill your mind with the memory.
Breath deeply into the memory, visualize it as clearly as you can with all your senses – what can you see, feel, hear, touch, smell. Can you feel the same feelings of joy and happiness? Because you can re-create it in your imagination, it means it is always available to you. Feelings of happiness come from WITHIN, not from without!
For the following few days, consciously remind yourself of this happy memory as often as you can (write post-its, pop-up email reminders, anything to keep you constantly changing your thoughts habits). Do not just think of a person (eg. Child, loved one) but think of an occasion with the person that was a happy one – its easier for your mind to attach an emotion to a particular incident, and easier for you to recall .
Take care to do this at a defect level than simply thinking 'I'm happy'! You need to remember the incident with your heart. For some of us it may mean creating 'quiet time' for a few minutes every few hours. Try it every time you go to the bathroom!
Watch out for your inner self-sabotage, that voice that says "this is so fake!" and ask your inner voice "Why would you prefer me to feel angry ?!" Some days you will prefer to feel frustrated or sad or angry – but this is your choice, even if you have the worst day in the world, you can still choose to remember a happy memory, or to submerse yourself in the negativity of the events around you. These are your thoughts, choose the happy ones!