Why Making Yourself Happy Should Be First On Your List of Things-To-Do
I used to be an unhappy person. Nothing suicidal but I will admit I was probably a world-class crab ass. But I could only blame myself. I used to say yes to dinners with people that were as shallow as a petrie dish. I used to oblige my husband when he invited The Horribles over with their bratty kids. I used to have a job I hated.
Of course, there are things that you just have to do in life:
- Shave your legs, often.
- Read the same…effing…Star Wars book… for the fifth night in a row when you would rather run headfirst into rusty barbwire. C3PO can kiss…
- Sit on the sidelines and try to be convincingly enthusiastic while the “delightful” and ever-present Kansas wind blows so much dirt in your face you are sure you just swallowed what used to be third base.
Oh yes. There are things we do for the ones we love but at some point we have to do things that make us happy as well. The old saying “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t no one happy” has stuck around for a reason. It’s the truth. Funny thing is that I always thought I was happy. Eventually I realized I was just sponging off other people’s happiness. It wasn’t truly mine.
As my kids got older and I had been pulled in too many directions for too long, I had to finally yell “Stop!!” Okay, I didn’t yell it out loud so much as I put down the wine bottle and opened a book. But still.
I came to the conclusion that life was just too damn short (have I mentioned that I turned forty this year?) to be miserable. Instead of just doing things to make others happy, I started to explore what made me happy. As a mom of three kids and two fur balls, I had lost myself in the shuffle of parenthood and it took some time to reconnect with who I was.
Here are the things I’ve found that make me happy:
1. Photography. My iPhone and my DSLR camera are two of my best friends. I take pictures of almost everything. I may or may not have a picture of my dog’s cute bear butt. I’m not kidding. He has the ass of a grizzly, only smaller. Okay, fine. Here it is.
2. Writing. Nothing soothes my soul (or torments?) better than sitting down with my words. I feel so blessed to have found something that I absolutely love to do.
3. Reading. Finding a book that makes me laugh and cry melts my heart.
4. Doing something nice for someone when they least expect it.
5. Getting unsolicited hugs from my kids because I’m not so crabby anymore. Less crab ass=more hugs. There’s a physics lesson in there somewhere.
6. Sending a personal letter to a friend with a stamp and everything. When I get one back, it is like getting a long-distance hug.
7. Traveling. I can’t get enough. Road trips? Even better. Going on vacation with my husband and kids is so much fun. Yes, I just said that. If you look past the gazillion bathroom breaks, backseat brawls, and endless requests for random crap just because you’re stuck in the navigation seat, it’s a blast. Nothing bonds a family better than a close encounter with a herd of elk. Or Lance Armstrong*
8. Having a handful of great friends that really “get” me and yet, still want to hang out with me. I don’t need to be the most popular kid on the block. I just want a few close friends that know all of my faults and still want to stand by me in pictures.
9. My independence. I have absolutely no problem being by myself for hours on end. Days even. I find that I crave my alone time; it gives me time to reconnect with myself as well as explore new interests.
10. Being in nature. I would rather go on a ten-mile hike with a twenty pound backpack than be stuck inside my house. Trees are my sanctuary. Some day I will do the Julie Andrews jig from The Sound of Music in a mountain meadow somewhere. I may even break out “My Favorite Things” just to seal the deal.
11. Silence. I’m a mother. Do I need to explain this?
12. Laughter. I don’t çare where it comes from; me, my kids, my friends, my dog (okay, he doesn’t really laugh but I swear he looks like he could.) Laughing is like finding the true north in the compass of my soul.
As I’ve gotten older, these things matter to me more and more. I also think that this list is subject to change so that I’m always in tune with “me”. As our busy days give way to busy weeks then busy years,it is so easy to one day find ourselves in a new place in time without much to look back on.
I hope you have your own list of what makes you happy close at hand. If not, take the time to assess what makes you happy and live by it.
Here are some quotes to inspire you:
I hump the wild to take it all in, there is no bag limit on happiness. –Ted Nugent
Wha? Okay, maybe not that one.
A large income is the best recipe for happiness I ever heard of. –Jane Austen
Jane! What the hell? She must have been drunk when she said this. Hang on. Let me find another one.
Happiness is not a goal…it’s a by-product of a life well lived.–Eleanor Roosevelt
There. That’s better. Now go get your list on.
What’s on your “What makes me happy” list? Please share in the comments!
*While we were hiking on the Ute Trail in Aspen a couple of years ago, we were waiting for a couple of hikers that were coming up the trail to pass us before we continued on down. At the last minute, the man in the lead looked up and we exchanged hellos. A split second later, my brain registered his black and yellow attire with his LIVESTRONG hat. I turned around after he passed me and I very aggressively pointed to the man with the bulging calves and mouthed “THAT’S LANCE ARMSTRONG!’” to my husband.
We saw him a little bit later riding through town. Here he is on the back of this motorcycle. My husband made me hold the camera out the window to take this shot. Hello, stalk much?