C’mon get happy!

Mom dancing by Fiddledeedee.net

When living in a house with two tween girls in the throws of hormonal adolescence and a mother on the brink of menopause, you might imagine that the prevailing mood is one of EMOTIONAL CHAOS.

I’ve taken to leaving random tissue boxes stashed at strategic locations.

Including my closet.

When I learned that the BlogHer Life Well Lived panel would be discussing how to teach the children in your life happiness, I was momentarily stumped.  I had never thought that happiness is something I needed to add onto the spinning educational plate that is our homeschooling fare.

In the midst of raising three grounded children in a world that I can only describe as out of control, I have a hard time putting my own finger on what happiness really is.  Much less how to attain it.

Because frankly, if happiness is something that is dependent on our circumstances, then we’re all sunk.

Many years ago, when I was a new mother, a dear friend and mentor gave me the book, The Practice of the Presence of God written by a 17th century monk named Brother Lawrence.  Brother Lawrence was a humble man who worked in the kitchen at his monastery.  The Practice of the Presence of God is a collection of documented conversations and letters that reveal his heart and relationship with God.

In a very small nutshell, Brother Lawrence speaks of drawing closer to God in the everyday mundane moments that life offers.  There isn’t a “going to God” in prayer, but rather having an intimate conversation at all times.  He speaks of finding joy in the smallest of duties.  Like washing dishes.  And doing all things to the best of ones ability.

As a new mother, up to her eyeballs in diapers and new mother realisms, I knew that this book could teach me much.

I learned how to find little nuggets of happiness and contentment in the smallest things.  And now, as a homeschooling mother of 3, who still feels overwhelmed by the minutia of life, I try often to stop and think about Brother Lawrence and how God wants our happiness not to be dependent on our circumstances, but rather in our relationship with Him.

This is what I’ve tried to instill in my children regarding finding happiness.  It was wonderful to dust this little book off after all of these years and be reminded of crucial life lessons.

Psalm 16: 11  “…in thy presence is fulness of joy…”

This is a truth I need to remember every single day of my life.

When we do get bogged down in the everyday trials, I’ve learned a couple of tricks to drag us out of the doldrums.

1.  Crank up the praise music.  Hard to be a debbie-downer when listening to Casting Crowns.

2.  Get the heck outside and breathe the fresh air.  Blows some of the stink off of us.

3.  Step outside of our comfort zone and do something nice for someone else.

Here’s something that should put a smile to your face.  Head over to this months Life Well Lived Sweepstakes and share a well lived moment in the comments on that page and be entered to win a Kindle Fire and a $50 Amazon gift certificate.  The sweepstakes runs from March 1 to April 5, 2012.

Now it’s your turn.  “How do you teach the children in your life happiness?  Please share your best tools and tips in the comments below.”

5 Responses to C’mon get happy!

  • Model thankfulness. It’s almost impossible to be unhappy when you’re thankful.

  • I count my blessing which I have many….

  • I had a hard time with this question, too 🙂

  • At age 41, when my two girls were 12 and 14, I had my son (the big surprise)! I then skipped right into menopause after childbirth. My mom went through it by age 45 so I knew it was coming. It was not pretty – at age 54 1/2, I don’t know if I still fully recovered!! Menopause is like having PMS for.the.rest.of.your.life!! OK, about being happy.
    I try to get my focus back on living one day at a time AND
    just have fun with the kids. Little spontaneous outings, being silly. It’s like you said DeeDee, it really is in the smallest of things. One of the memories my grown daughters mention is getting in the car, driving around the back roads, and dad stopping at the gas station and letting them pick out a candy bar and a drink. They thought that was wonderful. I read an article by Mike Farris of HSLDA MANY years ago, where he mentioned a vacation does not need to be costly, it is anything out of your daily routine and can just be a short ways from home.

    NOW, I believe I need to practice what I preach 🙂

  • When we were a homeschooling family, John and I would take the kids to any number of free places around where we lived (in Arizona) and called it a Field Trip. We. just. got. out.

    The other thing I have learned is: My husband was raised ina overtly wealthy household, I was not. At all. We joke that he is Nordstrom’s, I am Target (the WalMart of our day).

    As the kids have grown up, I have tried to instill in them the ability to be “content”. Content is what they have, vs want. Content for what they can afford, vs. what other can.

    There is nothing wrong in striving for more, to attain a goal- whether money or career, etc. But, being content in the ‘here and now’ vs thinking that “if only I could have …. then I would be happy”. That mindset will only breed frustration and unhappiness.