Ah, joy. That’s what everyone’s goal is right? We all crave happiness. Yet sometimes along the way, happiness and what it takes to get there get twisted.
Goals, material possessions, and situations often dictate our happiness. It’s not a new thought for me to suggest that perhaps true happiness isn’t from any of those things or circumstances, rather, true happiness is a choice from within. Several years ago while attending Saddleback Church in Southern California, Kay Warren did a series entitled “Choose Joy”. It so resonated with me then, yet still all these years later this mindset of CHOOSING joy trips me up.
I knew that happiness isn’t just a feeling, but I didn’t actually put it into practice. Knowing and doing are two very different things. I got caught up in the trappings of situational (un)happiness. Sure, I have really difficult situations I’ve been going through, but there’s no reason I can’t still be grateful during the storm. Even when it feels like I’m barely getting through something, I know God is right there holding me up.
I have struggled the last few years with this feeling of unhappiness, between late nights up with my baby, to early feedings, to marriage challenges, to feeling like my sanity got lost in the shuffle as a new mom…. and here’s some examples of how I snapped out of it and began to LIVE my life again knowing that JESUS is my true Happiness:
As a Christian, I believe that when true happiness is determined by situations or possessions, it’s superficial. Not to say that those things can’t make us happy! But true joy, that isn’t fair-weather joy, is a God thing. Christian Joy is truly different, and it’s genuine, sustainable, and worth fighting for. Being truly happy and joyful as a Christian means I will remain content, joyful, and at peace in all situations because I know God is in control. I also know that God will use all for the good of those who love him. (Check out Romans 8:28 and James 1)
That’s pretty standard in our faith as Christian. But what does that look like in day to day life when your marriage isn’t thriving, your finances maybe aren’t where you want them to be, and you have a baby that refuses to sleep for two years? It means being faithful in the small things. Choosing to read God’s word when you don’t feel like it. Praying about it instead of incessantly talking about it (Gut check to myself, Chatty Cathy). Trusting God will take care of the situation, no matter how big or small. When I remind myself to do these small acts of faith, I am met by God in even bigger ways, letting me know He’s here and cares for us. So when life is messy, stop to pray. Praying often means we are putting our knowledge of God and faith into action, and it’s a curator of true happiness!
Practice Healthy Happiness Habits – Intentional Living
What in the world is a Healthy Happiness Habit? It varies from person to person. What are the activities you love to do that really feed your soul? I’m talking things that make up the best days. For me, I love to read, write, be at the beach, paint with my daughter, cook, go hiking, play volleyball, have coffee with a best friend, among many other fun things! Sometimes it’s all too easy to get caught up in everyday life, todo lists, work, and monotony. Make time to live intentionally, practicing healthy habits that feed your soul and happiness tank! Do more that makes you feel alive and grateful.
Eat Healthy Foods
It’s really hard to feel good if you’re fueling your body with the wrong foods. Eating healthy and wholesome foods always helps me to feel my best. Feed your body well and thrive! If you need healthy recipe ideas, let me know and I would be glad to help. Also, ohsheglows.com is a wonderful blog and resource, I love her cookbooks. Angela Liddon is the creator of Oh She Glows and her blog even has an APP! What! So cool.
Make Right What You Can
Start by tackling the obvious issues in your life that you can make right. For me, I made a list of all the areas of my life that needed improvement and I made a plan to tackle each one. When I was struggling with unhappiness, I was so overwhelmed that it felt like nothing I did would help. This did coincide with a two year long state of ‘new mom’ sleep deprivation, so no wonder. Being a new parent isn’t for the faint of heart! But it is also the biggest blessing of my life. The bottom line here is: we cannot control all of our circumstances, but it is our responsibility to do our part and make right whatever we can. For me, one major improvement I did was decluttering my home. I used to have piles upon piles and covered up countertops. I took THREE SUV’s full of STUFF to donate to local charities. Visual clutter clutters my brain, which stifles my creativity, and leads to unhappiness. The book “The More of Less” by Joshua Becker has been so life giving on how to live a more minimalist lifestyle at home. Another thing I did that to help relieve stress in our home was teach our daughter to sleep. That’s something I have tried to do for quite some time and my many attempts were unsuccessful. I ended up loosely following a gentle sleep training book, creating a new bedtime routine, putting her in her own bed, and incorporating Essential Oils into our routine. I made her a calming oils sleep roller and she applies it herself before bed, she loves it! We also diffuse oils in her room at night, and it’s been a Godsend. We both have been sleeping better and overall it’s allowed us to be HAPPIER during the day!
Find an exercise you LOVE and do it! For me, that’s Pilates, Yoga, and walking. The best exercise is the one you’ll do. Exercise is a proven practice that is essential for wellness and to help with overall happiness. Let’s get moving!
Essential Oils & Self Care
As a work at home mama of a busy toddler, self care is usually the last thing on my list! But when I do make the time, I never regret doing it. Self care means I am being mindful of my own needs, too. Self care looks different for everyone, but here’s how I practice self care:
- Baths – I love taking a relaxing bath with 2 cups Epsom Salts, one cup Baking Soda, and mix it all together with about 10 drops of Lavender Essential Oil.
- Reading – Just taking the time to be still and enjoy a good book and/or learn something new totally feeds my soul
- Mama Mornings – I love to get up a little bit before my daughter so I can have some time alone with coffee, my bible, and my thoughts. It really helps set the tone for the day!
- Spa Day! I love a good spa day. I will do DIY face masks, paint my nails, and just pamper myself. Although, Spa day is usually spa hour. Hah!
- Essential Oils for Hormone Support – I make a roller bottle for myself with oils to support hormonal and emotional health and I put it on daily. Keeps this mama happy and my cycles from not turning me into a dragon lady. It also really helped support my body when I recently stopped breastfeeding!
- Essential Oils for Emotional Health – I make a roller bottle I named my “Calm” roller for whenever I need to relax. I just roll it onto my wrists and take a deep breath.
- If you’d like to know more about the oils our family uses, read more in the link below: Learn More About the Essential Oils We Use
Positive Mindset of Gratitude
Sometimes a mindset shift is the only change we need to be happier. If we are looking at life through dark shades of negativity, how do you think we’ll perceive our world? I try to be a realistic optimist, and sometimes I am better at it than other times. But one thing I know for sure is that having a mindset of gratitude helps me deal with hardships in a healthier way. The next time a tough situation arises, ask yourself, “what can I be grateful for in this situation?”
Write Out Your Blessings
I’m a visual learner. This exercise is a good one when you’re feeling down. Make a list of all the things you can think of that you are grateful for. It works wonders!
Read Books, Listen to Podcasts, Watch YouTube
I cannot speak highly enough of arming yourself with knowledge and positive inspiration. For financial wisdom I’ve read and enjoyed Total Money Make Over by Dave Ramsey. I highly recommend his course, Financial Peace University. For marital wisdom, I LOVED the book Love & Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs. This is not your typical marriage book, and I’ve read several. This one by far trumps them all for me personally, which is a whole other post in itself. There’s also a phenomenal podcast called Love That Lasts by Jefferson & Alyssa Bethke all about relationships – go listen! I love to listen to podcasts and audiobooks when I am folding laundry, doing dishes, and cleaning. What subjects interest you? Go find a good book, podcast, or audiobook and take your mind somewhere else. Seek out people who are better at something than you and learn from them. God created us all so uniquely, and sometimes people have gifts that you just don’t have or you haven’t grown in that area yet. I even love to watch YouTube videos of mamas who are scheduling & tidying geniuses because that is NOT MY THING but I know it is so helpful to keep a toddler on a schedule, ya feel? Whatever it is you want to learn or improve about your life, seek it out in others and in resources — then own it! You’ll feel so much more empowered when you arm yourself with knowledge. And feeling empowered means I am usually so productive & feeling HAPPY!
Talk to people, get help.
When all else fails, talk to trusted friends & family about your situation. Therapy is also a wonderful option, I am a big believer in getting an educated professional’s guidance. Mental health is definitely something to take seriously, and there is no shame in talking about it. I’d totally lose it some days if I didn’t try my best to do all of the above to keep my sanity. Even so, I have been to counseling to help me learn and cope. It’s awesome!
It’s so common for so many of us to be living stressful and unbalanced lives. My encouragement would be to remember that life is meant to be cherished, enjoyed, and lived vibrantly! Live consciously and CHOOSE to be joyful. Choose a life that fills your cup and your happy tank. Do more of what you love. I love my job so much and could easily work myself to the bone and get up the next day to do it all over again. (I do, whoops). But the point is, if you’re pouring from an empty cup then you aren’t being as effective. Just like being on an airplane, put your own oxygen mask on first and then help others. What is your form of oxygen? Get your cup filled up, get enough air to breathe, and then continue to be the badass mama, boss, and/or incredible person that you are!! Happiness as a feeling is fleeting, but lasting happiness is found in the things that really matter, like Jesus, our families, and living our best lives doing what we love. When we CHOOSE to be joyful regardless of the circumstances, we are taking the power back to stay positive and then we are unstoppable!