Friday, February 6, 2015

being happy

Dear Chrissy,

Are you really this happy? I wish I was as happy as you. How do you do it?

I get this question. A lot.

I never even thought happy was something different or remarkable until I started to hear this question with increasing frequency. Clearly happy is something is high demand and short supply.

To answer this question: Yes, I am this happy. When I'm this happy. I'm a regular human and feel a gauntlet of emotions daily- but the majority of my time is spent happy. Sometimes I am sad, angry, jealous and a million other things. Sometimes I write about them. Sometimes I only share them with a friend. Sometimes I make myself quit thinking about them because I don't want to always be inside my head and analyzing the bejeezuz out of everything. Sometimes- quite often- I perseverate over something a good long but before I can write about it or move on. But that's the most important part.

I always move on.

Sometimes I hear: I wish I could be as happy as you, BUT--And often times the butt is BIG. Sometimes they are wordy as heck. Sometimes they are humbling and awful. Sometimes they sound like a perfectly easy butt to me. Sometimes they are comparing their lives to mine, others, and their own expectations. You see- I would be happy, but my son has low-functioning autism. Or my divorce was really hard. Or my job is awful but I can't quit. Here's the thing. WE ALL HAVE A BUTT.

Every one of us. And when we first have hardship strike us, it's often impossible to be happy and that's okay. You must give yourself a period of mourning until you are able to reach acceptance. 

Researchers say that only 10 percent or so of the variation in people's reports of happiness can be explained by differences in their circumstances. It appears that the bulk of what determines happiness is due to personality and -more importantly- thoughts and behaviors that can be changed. 

So the good part is- you can learn to be happier. You just have to practice. 

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Happy is not only for the lucky. It's not something that randomly drops in your lap. It's something you must work at and reach for.

Some people just don't want to reach acceptance though. Some people just wear their butts on front. It's what they focus on. It's what they talk about- TO EVERYONE. It's what they unknowingly use as their- get out of being happy card- for life. We all have a list of things that make our life hard. And hard is such a completely relative term. My life was hard when I had no children. My life was hard when I first got married. My life was hard when I first became a mom. My life was hard when my first born son was diagnosed with autism. My life was hard when I came to the awful realization that my second son, Parker also has autism. See what all these things have in common? Hard.

Here's the thing- life is hard. Really hard- Right? Sometimes everything sucks. Marriage and work and scary low bank accounts and car payments and assholes and being sick and those god awful leaking sippy cups that you mean to throw away and keep forgetting to, and freaking cancer, and pain, and snow and family and I could truly name 2,000 OTHER reasons plus a million more reasons that life is hard. It's hard because it is. Life is hard. I don't know why. I asked God and he said "Because I said so". God and mom's usually know best so it's best not to question it.

But just because it's hard doesn't mean it isn't good. I need to say that again because it's important. A HARD LIFE CAN STILL BE A GOOD LIFE. Just because it's unexpected doesn't mean it's bad. Just because you have an off moment, day or week doesn't mean everything is awful and you are doing it wrong. You just pick up yourself and dust yourself off and try again. Every damn day.

Sometimes in order to be happy you need to throw out every single thing you expected life (marriage, parenting, your job, your mate, your car- WHATEVER is potentially holding you back) and look at it from new eyes. Stop comparing "what is" to "what I thought it would be".

Look around at life and seek good. 

You have to have the ability to name 2,001 plus a million and one more GOOD parts of your life. Because you know what- they are there too. (Yes, even YOU.) But you don't even notice them when you are noticing the hard parts. And the broken parts. And the disappointing parts. And then you get pissed at yourself for being angry, or cranky and ungrateful. And then you get pissed off at everyone else who doesn't have this life. Boy it's exhausting.

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So how about we just agree to try and find small bits of happiness throughout the day. That's a perfect start in finding happy. All good hard things must begin with intention. Here are some things that work for me:

  • Be around people that make you happy.
  • Help others. Yes, it takes time- but it somehow gives even more time and energy back to you. 
  • Ask yourself- is there another way to look at this situation? Maybe you just need to change your mind. Maybe you need to change your situation. Maybe you need to give yourself an unhappy deadline- "after 2pm today I refuse to think about this."
  • Get to know yourself even better. Check in with yourself. Don't let your needs pile up. What do you do to give yourself more energy? How do you relax? What makes you excited? These are important clues to YOU. Take care of yourself like you would a dear friend.
  • You must be willing to work harder at being happy than you work at staying angry, entitled, unhappy and bitter. It's much harder to be happy. And better-- It's a 'get what you pay for' kinda thing. 
  • Watch children. They are awesome at finding the simplest of happy.
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Elevators are Greyson's happy place. Yesterday after my doctor's appointment we rode one for thirty minutes. Up and down and up, making new friends with each stop. He reminds me to enjoy the ride.

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Parker is happiest outside.

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He walks around singing songs with gibberish words. He has an actual bounce in his step. He is one of the happiest guys I know. In fact, he should have written this post.

The following things do NOT work to increase happy:

  • Eating an entire can of Pringles. I tried it last night to be sure.
  • Being pissed off at people. Even if they deserve to be pissed off at, they don't even know you are stewing- and you are missing out on all that happy you could instead be having.
  • Feeling guilty for not being happy. We are all practicing being happy. We are not perfect. Show yourself some grace.
  • Feeling jealous of others decreases happy. It's normal for your mind to go there but you have to immediately shut it down. Immediately start thinking of things in your life for which you are grateful.
There you have it. Just like losing weight- there are no secrets and it takes work. Your happiness is worth it.



  1. Thank you always for your uplifting words and reminding all of us that we need to work at being happy, and that we deserve it. You are so special.

  2. You are SO right. It is our duty and right and privilege to be happy. And being happy takes practice. Just need to be sure that being happy is "real"... there are people that pretend to be happy, but it's all fake because they bottle everything up. I like to try to acknowledge when I'm angry or upset or whatever, and give myself permission to be mad or whatever I'm feeling, rather than bottling it up, and then because I've acknowledged it as real to me, then I can send it on its merry way. I like the idea of giving the time deadline or whatever. That's clever. Better than eating the bag/jar/container of whatever... why I keep trying that, I don't know. There's no happy at the bottom of the box... uhoh... now I want Cracker Jack. :-D

  3. Thank you for this beautiful post

  4. Oh my. I needed to read this. Thank you so much. You are so right -- thank you. Again.

  5. What an outstanding post! You hit the nail on the head with how much energy we put into staying on the other side of happy. (the side I'm on today, unfortunately, so I'll start working on it!). Thanks for taking the time and precious energy to spin such a fabulous piece of writing for everyone!

  6. Did you know that sometimes when I feel frustrated or stuck in a negative place, I go like: Let's see what Chrissy has to say to that... And this is what happened with this post today. I read through your words and got reminded that, yes, life is hard. But it's good, too. And so is God (I mean, he's good!!). Thanks for sharing your heard, knowledge and wisdom in this blog. You are using your gifting so that it becomes a blessing to others. Thank you so much! Barb

  7. Great wisdom and advice in this post. Wonderful delivery also! Thanks

  8. Thank you, as always. How did you get so wise? :-) I'm in cold, snowy New Jersey this week, but you know what? I have a great job, and I get to meet new people and stay in nice hotels and see some sites. I'm happy!