“We have the power in our lives to be happier than we are”- Oprah
If someone asked you: ‘what do you want in life and for your family?’ would you say happiness? After all, isn’t that what all of us want? Yet, when we dig deeper into that question and ask ourselves ‘what does that look like?’ it can be difficult to come up with an answer. With bums to change, sleep deprivation, and the struggle to find even 5 minutes to yourself, it can be challenging to find the right headspace to even ponder these questions. As the calendar flips from 2017 to 2018, it is a chance for us to look up and out of our day to day and reflect on the year that has passed and the year to come. There is so much talk this time of year about keeping (and not keeping) resolutions which can make us cynical about setting and sticking to goals we set out for ourselves (like that flurry of people who hit the gym in January only to lose their momentum come February!). I can’t count the number of times I promised myself I would be a better mother, wife, and friend only to be beating myself up throughout the year as I failed to live up to unrealistic illusions of what I thought it meant to be a ‘good’ or ‘happy’ mom or partner.
On this cold and snowy January day, I stumbled upon this Super Soul Conversations podcast with Gretchen Rubin as I prepared the crockpot for a warm and hearty soup. She has written many books including the Happiness Project, which helped me understand how we can shape our goals for the year. Her number one rule is “Be Gretchen” or ‘to thine own self be true’. What does a happy life look like for YOU? Not what you think others want from you or an illusion you have of a happy life, but what really makes YOU light up? This is our greatest challenge and yet if you think about it, it is our lifelong quest. But with kids and the stress of life, we can lose focus on discovering and redefining what makes us truly happy.
Her concepts for developing your own personal happiness project are all about small and natural changes, not huge dramatic ones (unless you are ready for that!). It is about finding areas of your life that bring you joy and defining simple and manageable actions that create little shifts to bring more happiness into our daily lives. By doing this, she suggests we will be able to move more mindfully throughout the day, celebrate small moments by being present, and find gratitude as we experience them. She has found that happiness doesn’t just come to you. Like developing a muscle, your job is to work at it and learn regularly what it means for you to be happy.
So what is your own happiness project for 2018? What small and concrete steps can you take to be the parent/partner/friend that will bring you fulfillment and joy in your day to day life? For me right now, taking time to enjoy the smell of soup cooking and the sounds of excitement as the boys return from tobogganing are where I find my moments of gratitude and are helping me refine my happiness muscle for the year to come.
Wishing you love, happiness, and fulfillment in 2018!