The other day my 14-year-old daughter was lamenting about her homework load (they give these kids mind-numbing amounts of busywork to complete outside of school – but that’s another topic!). She was perplexed at why teachers give their students so much work and it never ends, and then you inevitably grow up, get a job and continue to do more work – what is the point of all of this?
Being that it was nearly 10 pm at night and the homework not quite complete, I withheld my existential rhetoric and let her return to her drudgery. However, as I walked away I compiled my own mental inventory of how to live a meaningful life.
Happiness is absolutely a choice. It is also a state of mind that to comes from within yourself.
One of the hardest lessons I have learned in my lifetime is that I cannot rely on other people to make me happy. If you assume others will take care of your feelings for you, then you will be sorely disappointed time and again.
Make the decision to focus on the good in the world. This will not eliminate the bad or the ugly, but it will enable you to endure these more readily and bounce back from adversity.
Realize that all life is fraught with trials and tribulations. It is easy to get caught up in the negativity of it all. However, it is more rewarding to push through all of that and come out the other side still smiling.
One of the greatest destroyers of happiness and joy in life is worry. If you stop for a second to think about it, you could find a million reasons to feel anxious about the world around you.
However, when push comes to shove, how many of the things you worry about are within your control to change? And if it is that simple, then why not make the necessary changes and move on?
I used to think that control was simply an obsession with details, like micro-managing – no big deal, right? Time and experience have shown me otherwise.
The attempt to control all aspects of your life, including the people around you, comes from a dark place inside filled with fear and anxiety. You become consumed with the notion that only you know the best way forward in your life.
Once I decided to focus on choosing happiness in my life, then I was able to accept any direction my life headed knowing that I was going to be OK.
When you have the power to be happy, then you are able to “let go” and experience life as it comes. Only then do you also open yourself up to wonderful, unexpected possibilities that may not have otherwise presented themselves.
Live in the Moment
Finally, a lesson I have learned from being with my children – you will never get wasted time back. Kids grow up quickly, seasons change and no one has admitted to inventing a time machine yet.
Be mindful of the time you have with the most important people in your life (the ones who support your choice of happiness). Be present when you are with them – not focused on the past or what lies ahead.
Through nurturing meaningful, loving relationships and letting go of the toxic ones, I have been rewarded with more love and support than I ever imagined that I deserved. If I am present with those who support and nurture me then I can enjoy each moment with them.
When I put down my phone and enjoy the time I have with my kids, I am able to actually listen to their perspectives on the world around them. I come to understand and value them as the unique individuals that they truly are. Together we discover the thrills and wonders of life as we help each other deal with our struggles.
After all, if you are fortunate enough to surround yourself with supportive, positive people – why wouldn’t you want to enjoy every moment that you have with them when you don’t know for certain how many more you may get in the future?
Life is hard work and there are no guarantees. Why not focus on the aspects within your reach? Choose to be happy, surround yourself with like-minded, supportive individuals, and ensure that your moments together are meaningful.