I went through a store with my son the other day and he saw all the Christmas decoration stuff for sale and he said “I hate it when they skip holidays”

Meaning we had just put away our Halloween décor and we should be looking forward to Thanksgiving.  (being a kid, I’m sure he didn’t realize that I’ve been decorating for Thanksgiving ever since I put up the fall décor back in August.)

I personally can’t wait for Thanksgiving.

I look forward to traveling, spending time with family, cooking those favorites that I only eat this time of year. To me Thanksgiving is a time to show your family how much you love them.

I’ve discovered recently that my favorite way to show love is by cooking.  With only 2 of us in the house now, it became really easy to ignore meal time.  We would eat out, or just have leftovers or sandwiches.

Only when I got my cooking magazine in the mail, and decided to make some real recipes did I begin to feel like myself again. This is part of who I am. I may not always make the best meals, but cooking each night brings us closer together, and helps me to feel like I still have something to contribute in the life of my very independent child.  In fact I finally feel like I am in a position to start getting to know the neighbors and have people over for dinner.

The last 2 Thanksgivings, I felt kind of homeless.  Because my life was in transition, I didn’t cook Thanksgiving dinner, or celebrate it with family.  (Other than my 2 kids that were at home at the time.) However we were blessed to have friends who saw our loneliness and invited us to share in Thanksgiving with them. These two Thanksgiving dinners were very special because I felt loved even though we were not with immediately family.

This year I am lucky enough to be joining many members of my family, and especially to be with people that I don’t get to see very often.  I’m looking forward to this almost more than Christmas.

I think that I big part of Thanksgiving is the “giving” part.  Reminding ourselves of the things in life that we are so blessed to have, then finding a way to share that with others that may be in need.  Like the families that took us in on a holiday that they could have just kept their families.  This year, I may not be able to take in another family, but I found a way to be a part of a larger project that ensured that several Veteran families that are in need, will have a Thanksgiving dinner for themselves.

Maybe this Thanksgiving we can all show our thanks by giving a little to others.

If you are grateful that you have enough food to eat, you can donate to a food pantry.

If you are grateful that you have family close by to share your love, you can watch for people that are lonely and share some little bit of joy.

If you’re grateful that you have a good job and can support your family, maybe you can think about hiring a local teen to help with yard work, or buying chocolate from the cute little cub scouts outside the grocery store, or signing up to help with job training in your local refugee center.

If I can be grateful that “today I am happy,” I can choose to smile and be especially cheerful and helpful to everyone that I meet.

Preparing for Christmas is important, but before we start the crazy rush towards Christmas, let’s all take this week before Thanksgiving to show our gratitude to others by sharing a little of what we have been blessed with.  Showing this “true love of Christ” is the best way to start getting ready for Christmas anyway.

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p.s.  If you want to give in some way this season, but don’t know where to start, you can go to Justserve.org and sign up and look for opportunities that will fit your families ability and desire to serve.

 

lessons-from-crayonsThis week will be the anniversary of when my best friend Kathie lost her fight with cancer.  My life would never be the same after knowing her. As I was doing laundry today I was reminded of her.

One day, she called me crying.  She had pulled a load of laundry out and had found bright red stains all over her freshly cleaned clothes.

Kathie had a teenage daughter, and it turned out the daughter had left a lipstick in the pocket of her pants when she threw them into the laundry.

Kathie was so upset with herself for not checking the pockets before doing the laundry. It made her feel like a failure as a mom.  She cried “this wouldn’t have happen to you, you would have checked the pockets and done the laundry perfectly”

It turns out my husband at the time had been telling her how great I was, and she felt for sure that I wouldn’t make that kind of mistake.

I had to break the news to her and let her know about my own true life laundry horror story.

When the kids were little, I pulled clothes out of a dryer and found multiple colors of melted crayon all over ALL OF THE CLOTHES.  I thought they were ruined for sure. I didn’t check pockets before throwing my laundry in. I assume one of my kids left crayons in little pockets.  I’m pretty sure that after the initial shock, I cried that whole day.  I felt totally stupid.

Fortunately I wasn’t so upset that I couldn’t tell the story to my neighbor.

Being brave enough to share my shameful moment, saved my clothes from the trash. The friend I shared with didn’t judge me or laugh at me. She felt with me and told me I could contact “Crayola” for instructions on getting the stains out.

They didn’t laugh at me either.  They did however share with me their “recipe” for removing crayon stains that get set in from the dryer.  It turns out I’m not the first person whose had this happen to them.

It took several hours and some new cleaning techniques but I saved the clothes.  However I didn’t learn my lesson well enough, to check little pockets before throwing them into the washer.

It happened again a few years later.  And I felt stupid all over again, times 2.

Once Kathie heard my story, I wasn’t sure what she thought, but she seemed to feel better.

Eventually we became the best of friends and she realized that I’m normal, and normal means I make mistakes too.

It’s kind of funny and a little sad that we, as women, tend to judge ourselves so harshly against the perceived best of other women.  Especially after a hard day, like the one Kathie had.

Why do we assume other people are perfect when we struggle?

I think it is natural to look at others and admire their strengths, but I think it becomes damaging when we assume that someone else is “better than” us.

Of course we each have our strengths, and are better at certain things than others.  My friend Sarah makes better cookies than I do.  Susan is a much better photographer than I am.  Theresa throws the best parties around. Possessing different talents doesn’t mean that any one of us is less important.  No one is “better than” another.  We are just all different.

While we each have different talents we also each have our own struggles in life, but everyone deserves to be loved and accepted.

When we realize that we are each a child of God, accepting that He loves each of us, all while fully knowing our imperfections and our weaknesses, we should be able to give ourselves permission to be human.  God sent his son to us, and the gift of the atonement is real, and the very thing that allows us to make up for the mistakes that we will all inevitably make. Using the atonement and repentance when necessary is what will take away the feeling of “unworthiness” or “not good enough.”

We are all worthy of love and belonging. We belong to God’s family and His love is unconditional. But we also belong to friends and family right here.

Once we stop judging ourselves against the imagined perfect life (whether someone else’s or the one we think we should have) only then can we truly begin to live and love and engage with those friends and family who probably could use some connection themselves also.

Please enjoy this video and pay attention to the way Tiffany points out that we are all lacking or broken in some way, but we can be “enough” with Jesus on our side.

Be good to yourself today, you deserve it.

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My children are my most precious gifts.  I almost wrote possessions, but I don’t really own them.  They are free spirits, each so unique and different, and each one reacts to life’s challenges differently.  My oldest is a typical oldest.  He wants to be good and does what he is asked.  He tends to not toe the line or not go too far from what we expect and hope for him.  Some of my other children are line pushers.  They need to test the world out for themselves.  Sometimes that means they need to fall hard to learn a lesson.  My word is not enough for complete understanding at times, and they need to test things out for themselves.

This is one of the reasons I believe so strongly that we need to set up boundaries for our kids to help protect them from the scary world they can at times be exposed to, the images they will see and the things they will be exposed to in this computer/personal device driven world we now live in.  I understand I can’t control everything that will influence them, but I can sure do my best to set up safety precautions that will.

Over a year ago I wrote about the importance of communication with our children and how to help them look away when they are exposed to the less than desirable and the down right horrible. You can find that article here. I believe open communication is the most important tool we have to help protect our kids against both pornography and difficult situations.

When my children were still young I got my first cell phone.  I was slow to the game and it took me many more years to get a smart phone.  I could not imagine at the time the world it would open.  It wasn’t until I worked with some youth of my church, my kids didn’t have their own devices at this point, that I learned how devastating the effects of both social media and pornography could be on these young developing minds.  Ryan and I decided at this point that we needed to set our kids up for success.  When they would get their first smart phones or when they would have access to computers or iPads, they would be kept as safe as we could keep them.

The tutorials below show some of what I have learned over the years.  I will add more tutorials as I make them.

In this first video I show how to set up parental controls on an iPhone or iPad.  I have been very pleased with Apple’s controls.

This next one is how to set up controls on Google.  This can be done on any personal device or computer.  It’s not 100% and I still am a firm believer that family computers should be set out in the open and children should never be allowed unattended screen time, either in their rooms or when no one is home.  We have a very protected password, and my kids know the moment I leave the house the computer is locked down.

I don’t allow my kids to have social media, but if you do, heck even if you have an Instagram, I discuss some of the things to be aware of and much of it applies to Facebook as well.  I will be adding a tutorial on that at a later time

This last one is how to set up safe search on YouTube.  It’s very simple to do, and although not 100%. I am happy it’s available.

I am an Apple girl.  I love my computer, my IPhone and iPad.

For those who use android and other devices, I have found these links for you and they look rather helpful.  I had no idea you could set up separate accounts on an android phone just like you would on a home computer.  That would be great for when you are handing off to a small child.

How to set up parental controls on Android smartphones and tablets

Quick Guide: Parental Controls for Android Devices

5 Best Free Parental Control Apps for Android

perfectionismI’ve really been struggling lately with feelings of anxiety and stress, which I believe are stemming from perfectionism.

I used to think that the term perfectionism was related to someone who works hard and is constantly improving in a quest to reach perfection.

Then a friend called me a perfectionist in front of some strangers, and it forced me to really think about it.

I know that I’m not perfect, and not even close. I thought “I’m so far from perfect, what is she talking about?”

Well I suppose I need to put that statement into context.  We were working on scrap booking, and I couldn’t commit to where I wanted to glue my little cutout, and once I put it down I was upset and wanted to move it.

Perfectionism is NOT a healthy striving for improvement… It is a damaging fear of making any mistake at all in the off-chance that someone will find out and realize that we are not perfect.

Perfectionism makes learning new things difficult, because failure can be a big part of learning something new. If I’m afraid of failure, how will I ever be able to do something new?

Today perfectionism looks like this.

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Pictures and other decor all over the place, because I don’t know where they will look best.  You see I just moved to a new house, and it’s not quite the same as the other homes I have lived in, so I don’t know what to do. So… I did almost nothing.  Just made a big mess until I magically discover the “perfect” place to put everything.  Or I just get over it and hang things up so I can enjoy the memories in the artwork.

I know that because I just moved in, I should cut myself some slack and let it take the time that it takes, but I struggle with the mess… because of the perfectionism. I’m still working full time, still raising kids, and trying to be on top of all their activities, and in the back of my mind, I still want to be working on this blog!!!

When it all gets to be too much, I get overwhelmed… I feel paralyzed…and I feel guilty….

Guilt that I “should” be able to do better than this.  Guilt that I am not further along by now.  Guilt that I am so busy I don’t have time to get out and meet my new neighbors, or be there for my friends, or that I don’t have a vacation planned for my kids this summer yet.

The greater the guilt the greater the paralysis.  As my brain becomes overwhelmed with the thought of all the things that still need to be done, my body responds by feeling tired…

There is too much to do, if I expect it to all be done by tomorrow, and the perfectionist in me can only see what hasn’t been done, not the small victories that I accomplish every day.

I recognize that it is unrealistic expectations that I PUT ON MYSELF that cause me to break down.

The good news is that after several weeks of “breaking down” off and on, I came to a realization that I no longer want to live this way.  I needed to do something about it, and with a little divine intervention, I think I am on the road to finding some real peace amidst the chaos of my life.

Here are some of the things that I learned as I have attempted to climb back out of the hole that I have dug myself into.

  1. “We get credit for trying, even if we don’t always succeed.” – Elder Jeffrey Holland.   I’ve heard this quote several times this month. Every time it was mentioned in a talk at church or online or anywhere, my brain was picking it up and putting it right in front where I couldn’t miss it.  This is so significant to me, because often, I can’t figure out the “right” thing to do next, but sometimes it is more important to do something… anything in fact, to work towards what ever it is that is holding me up. Trying will lead to something good, even if it’s not a perfect outcome, it will be some type of progress. Even a little step in the right direction is progress.
  2. “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” – Maya Angelou.  Mistakes from my past can make me feel like a complete failure, but the truth is that at the time I was most likely doing the best that I could with what I had at the time. It is okay to put those short comings in the past and decide that now that I know better, it is time to step up and do better.
  3.  “Put first things first.”   A young man in church this weekend reminded us of the story of Enos.  Enos had a wonderful spiritual experience that was probably the highlight of his life, in which the Lord told him he was forgiven and that he would be blessed.  The young man who was sharing this story with us pointed out that Enos was hunting at the time of this experience, and that hunting was very important.  In his time, successful hunting meant whether or not the family would be able to eat. What he was doing was very important to his families physical welfare, but at that moment he felt the need to pray for his eternal welfare. He took the time away from his very important earthly tasks to pray, and as a result had an amazing spiritual experience.  What I took away from this story is that in order to feel peace in life amongst all the millions of things that seem to be needing to be done, I need to stop the busyness once in a while and concentrate on the things that are of the most eternal significance. For me that means making time to build my relationship with my God through prayer and scripture study, making time for my family to further develop those crucial relationships, and to take time for myself and do the things that I find bring meaning to my soul, such as reading and writing.

Although I still have guilt over this being the only blog post I have gotten to this month, I am so grateful for the lessons I was forced to re-learn as I trudge through this transition in my life.

 

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I laid in bed struggling to want to do anything. Today I just felt like a failure, and I was confused by the feeling. Just the day before I felt confident and strong, yet in one swift moment I felt the world crash down on me as if I had been hit by a train. One minute confident, the next insecure and second guessing everything I’m doing.

Does this sound familiar to anyone else?

I have come to know with great confidence two things.

First, God is real. He is close by me even when I don’t recognize it. His ways are greater than mine, and when I trust him my whole world is more peaceful. He is the reason I have all that is good in my life. I believe that with all my heart.

Second, Satan is just as real. For all the good and hope God brings, Satan strives to bring the opposite. Despair, failure, sadness, anger. He doesn’t really care which emotion will bring me down as long as it does. He only has the power that I give him.

What do I do when I believe his lie, the one that says I’m not enough?  How do I rise above and come back to trusting my God who loves and brings peace?

Yesterday my 17-year-old son read this talk to me. I highly recommend reading it when you have the time. Here is an excerpt I thought was especially helpful.

A BYU student once came to me and asked if we could talk. I said, “Of course. How can I help you?”

She said, “I just don’t get grace.”

I responded, “What is it that you don’t understand?”
She said, “I know I need to do my best and then Jesus does the rest, but I can’t even do my best.”
She then went on to tell me all the things she should be doing because she’s a Mormon that she wasn’t doing.

She continued, “I know that I have to do my part and then Jesus makes up the difference and fills the gap that stands between my part and perfection. But who fills the gap that stands between where I am now and my part?”

She then went on to tell me all the things that she shouldn’t be doing because she’s a Mormon, but she was doing them anyway.

Finally I said, “Jesus doesn’t make up the difference. Jesus makes all the difference. Grace is not about filling gaps. It is about filling us.”

Seeing that she was still confused, I took a piece of paper and drew two dots—one at the top representing God and one at the bottom representing us. I then said, “Go ahead. Draw the line. How much is our part? How much is Christ’s part?”
She went right to the center of the page and began to draw a line. Then, considering what we had been speaking about, she went to the bottom of the page and drew a line just above the bottom dot.

I said, “Wrong.”

She said, “I knew it was higher. I should have just drawn it, because I knew it.”

I said, “No. The truth is, there is no line. Jesus filled the whole space. He paid our debt in full. He didn’t pay it all except for a few coins. He paid it all. It is finished.”

She said, “Right! Like I don’t have to do anything?”

“Oh no,” I said, “you have plenty to do, but it is not to fill that gap. We will all be resurrected. We will all go back to God’s presence. What is left to be determined by our obedience is what kind of body we plan on being resurrected with and how comfortable we plan to be in God’s presence and how long we plan to stay there.”

Christ asks us to show faith in Him, repent, make and keep covenants, receive the Holy Ghost, and endure to the end. By complying, we are not paying the demands of justice—not even the smallest part. Instead, we are showing appreciation for what Jesus Christ did by using it to live a life like His. Justice requires immediate perfection or a punishment when we fall short. Because Jesus took that punishment, He can offer us the chance for ultimate perfection (see Matthew 5:48, 3 Nephi 12:48) and help us reach that goal. He can forgive what justice never could, and He can turn to us now with His own set of requirements (see 2 Nephi 2:7; 3 Nephi 9:20).

“So what’s the difference?” the girl asked. “Whether our efforts are required by justice or by Jesus, they are still required.”

“True,” I said, “but they are required for a different purpose. Fulfilling Christ’s requirements is like paying a mortgage instead of rent or like making deposits in a savings account instead of paying off debt. You still have to hand it over every month, but it is for a totally different reason.”
Christ’s Grace Is Sufficient to Transform Us” Brad Wilcox

Satan’s lie is that when we do our best, our very best, (otherwise interpreted to mean when we are perfect) that is when the atonement steps in. But the truth is my Savior atoned for all of my short-comings and failings. All of them. Not just some of them or when I finally feel like I have laid it all on the line. Brad explained that so wonderfully. We keep trying, we fall short, again. And then we get up and keep trying. That’s all He asks of us. So when the lie that you’re not enough comes crawling back in, remember who paid the ultimate sacrifice and strive to hear His voice, the one that tells you you truly are more than enough, better than you think you are.

Susan

Spring time is my very favorite. It’s starting to get warm without being hot. The rain is light when it comes and is always appreciated. Excitement about summer plans are beginning to grow. Soft colors are coming out in my wardrobe. And then there is always spring cleaning.

This year however I started to think about the spring cleaning of my emotional life instead.  What beliefs or habits is it time I parted ways with? What should I take to the dump and just leave there?  Are their beliefs that are cluttering up my mind causing chaos?  Are there things I am constantly tripping over that I haven’t been ready to get rid of but now I see it’s simply necessary in order for me to feel a greater sense of calm and peace?

For years and years I have struggled, deeply agonized even, over feelings of being inadequate and not enough. As a recovering perfectionist, I think that’s normal. But the more I talk openly with other women, I see it might just be a common theme among many of us.

My spring cleaning needed to begin right here. It was time for me to let go of the clutter, the trash, the lie, that I was not enough, so that I could fill my spiritual home with peace and purpose.

These feelings had prevented me from feeling peace. They had kept me from doing things I had wanted to do but was too afraid to fail. I would often see my failings above my successes.  I never felt like I was getting closer to who I wanted to be because I was only seeing how far I still had to go.

I could see the damage this was causing. I was “tripping over” it daily, and I knew it was time to move forward and throw this lie out. But how?

Just like cleaning house, the first step is to access what needs attention and then coming up with a plan. For me I knew this was my biggest stumbling block. But I had held onto it for so long, I didn’t even know where to begin.

For months I have been chipping away at this and my story is long (I need to write it in a book).

For me the first step was to go to the Lord and seek His guidance. Asking Him to guide me on my journey and then continue to move forward expecting His help.

One Sunday I sat in church reflecting on my Savior’s Atonement. I thought about His love and sacrifice for me. He was perfect. He is perfect. And like a ray of warm bright sun filling my heart, I understood a little more fully, because my Savior is perfect, with Him I am enough.

Even when I fall short, because of His sacrifice, I am enough.

Even when I mess up and make mistakes, I am enough.

Even when I’m in the middle of learning and growing and haven’t made it as far as I want to go, with Him I truly am enough.

And for the first time I began to actually believe the statement that I am enough right now, in this very moment.

There have been many other experiences where I have seen God’s hand as He has been trying to teach me this principle. Just this morning I came across this scripture “if the desires of their hearts were good, that they should also, at the last day, be restored unto that which is good.”  Notice its doesn’t say if they perfectly accomplish all they desired or if they accomplished everything they wanted to in their hearts then they were restored to good.

It’s based upon our desires for good.

I want to be a better mom, but I fall short more than I desire. I desire to serve more and give more in ways that are just not possible at this time in my life. I want to always be patient and kind and loving towards everyone. I truly desire that. But I mess up,  I make mistakes. And yet my desires are still good.

I am enough when my desires are good. I am enough when I mess up. And all of that is the Plan of God. That we remember what the Savior has done for us that we may eventually be made perfect in Him. And for now, in our sins and weaknesses, we are still enough.

What could use a little spring cleaning in your emotional life?

Susan

Hope through the atonement can lead to happinessHope and Happiness can be elusive.  We want to be happy, and positive, and upbeat; but there are definitely times when it is challenging.

Life can get hard. It gets discouraging. And it can happen rather easily.

Neal A Maxwell said

“Doubt and despair, like dandelions, need little encouragement in order to sprout and spread.”

This month I’ve been discussing ways to bring more happiness into our lives. But sometimes it takes more than just trying to be happy.  Sometimes learning to use the atonement of Christ in our lives is what it takes to bring back hope and happiness.

What is hope and why is it so important to have a happy life?

Neal A Maxwell also taught that

“Hope is serene, not giddy, eager without being naive, and pleasantly steady without being smug.  Hope is retained through the gift of the Holy Ghost and faith in Christ

Hope in a bright future helps us to be brave enough to keep going when times seem dark.

Hope in the atonement can lead us to repentance, leaving the past behind and working to become better people every day.

Hope in God’s love helps us to be patient, while we wait for God’s timing to bring us answers we seek.

Hope requires faith, and can bring us to a place of peace and happiness.

When we learn to exercise hope through the atonement in our lives, it becomes much easier to bounce back from the discouragements and difficulties that will inevitably pop up in our lives.

Everyone experiences difficulties. But we don’t have to let them be the whole story in our lives. Turn to the Lord. Learn about Him and the plans that He has for your life.

Enjoy this little video and remember that God’s blessings are all around us to bring up happiness, if we will exercise faith and hope in Him, and allow the atonement to work its magic in our lives.

 

How can faith make you happy

Many years ago I had a therapist tell me to make “Faith Cards” to carry with me at all times, to help me through my rough spots.

I was in the middle of some dark and difficult times, and experiencing related depression, and I didn’t see how “faith” had anything to do with helping me survive this trial I was going through.

I no longer had faith in the people, because some important people had let me down.  I certainly didn’t have faith that everything would turn out the way I expected it should, because it didn’t.

I just didn’t have any idea how having faith would help me to handle my current situation any better.

Well, after several therapy sessions, I began to learn more of what she was talking about.  The most important faith that we can have is faith in God.

Faith that He knows each of us individually.

Faith that He knows about the bad things that happen to us, before they happen, and He has a plan for our lives.

Faith that He can send us messages to help along the way, through scriptures, earnest prayer, and good people sent into our lives to help.

So back to “Faith Cards.”  Faith cards are small cards (I created mine on printable business cards) that fit into a purse or wallet, so that the can be pulled out and used to lift the spirits any time it is needed.  The words on the faith cards could be scriptures, quotes, words to a hymn or inspirational song.  Anything that helps to remind me in a hard moment that God is watching over and He is in charge.

Here are a few examples of quotes that I used.

Doctrine and Covenants 6:23  Did I not speak peace to your mind concerning the matter? What greater witness can you have than from God?

Ether 12:27 … if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.

2 Nephi 32:3 … feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do.

From the Hymn “Be Still My Soul”   Thy God doth undertake to guide the future as he has the past.

If you decide to make faith cards, they will be very personal to you, and have quotes that speak to your own soul.

2 Nephi 2:25 teaches us that “men are, that they might have joy.”

Do we believe that men are created to have joy?  The scripture says that men are that they “might” have joy.  It is still a choice, and it doesn’t say that we will live in a constant state of joy, but we might have some beautiful moments of joy throughout our lives.

Life really is meant to be enjoyed.  Happiness can be found and is even sweeter after the enduring of trials. Having faith that God is at the helm can be just what is needed to carry on and find the sweet happy moments that God has placed in our lives for us to discover.

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Can I choose to be happy

According to Mister Groundhog, it is going to be an early spring.  I don’t know about where you live, but the amount of sunshine I have seen in the past several weeks has left me feeling very “springy.”

There is just something about spending time in the warm sun that is naturally energizing.  In fact, I’m pretty sure there is scientific proof that spending time in the sun increases our overall happiness.

I think it is safe to say that it is a universal goal of most people to be happy, but it’s probably not something that we write down and concentrate on as a goal.

I think it’s more likely that our goals are…

“When I lose 10 pounds, then I’ll be happy”

“When I get a new job, then I’ll be happy”

“When we buy a new house, then I’ll be happy”

You get the picture.  We all want to be happy, but it is easy to get caught up in the belief that happiness will come when our circumstances change.  But once they do change, how long does the new happiness last? Not long on its own.  Research done at the University of California Riverside found these statistics around happiness.

What determines happiness

Our circumstances can be a good excuse for not experiencing happiness, but the stats show otherwise.  If only 10 percent of our happiness is determined by our circumstances, then it can be really dangerous to put our happiness on hold, while waiting for our circumstances to change.

Of course, a loss in life, such as death, divorce, or loss of a job or any important relationship can cause a definite degree of sadness.  However, that sadness does not have to be a permanent state.  It can be hard to see happiness during a time of loss, and it is crucial to be honest with those sad feelings as they come. However, it is just as important to realize that although we have to recognize our own negative feelings, we don’t have to set up camp and live in that state.

Facing a loss with the support of understanding friends and family can be healing and help bring stability and an overall sense of well-being during hard times, allowing happiness to find a pathway back into daily life.

After my divorce there were some difficult, frustrating and, yes, some sad times.  And even though life had thrown me in an unanticipated position, I chose to work hard for a chance to maintain a healthy happy life.  I accepted the sad times as they came and indulged myself in a couple of cry fests, but overall I would say that I was mostly happy.

Then a few years later when I got engaged to a new man, a good friend said “Oh, I’m so glad to see that you’re happy.”

I almost got a little defensive.  My instant thought was “Who says I wasn’t happy on my own.  Why do I have to have a fiancé or husband to be happy?  I can be perfectly happy all by myself, thank you very much!!”

Of course, I didn’t actually say those things.  I know she didn’t mean any harm.  She was being genuine and sweet.  In fact I might have said the same thing to someone else in similar circumstances.

I suppose I was just a little surprised by my own knee-jerk reaction to her expression of joy for me.

Do I need someone else’s approval before I can be happy?  Do I need to have all of my “ducks in a row” at all times to be content with my life?

I guess I have proven to myself over some difficult years, that “no, I don’t” have to have perfect circumstances in order to be happy.

There have certainly been times when I have been stressed or excited about some upcoming event. I recognize that sense of anxiety in my body as a sign that the stress is building up. There is always something around the corner that demands my attention. Sometimes it’s something fun. Sometimes it’s something busy but necessary. But wherever it comes from, it can cause stress and anxiety. What I have learned to do as those stressors begin to take a toll on my mind and body, is to stop… analyze how I am at that exact moment, and say to myself.

Right now, in this moment, I am happy”

And just as I say it, I begin to feel it.

Being afraid for the future doesn’t have to affect my ability to be happy right now.

Preparing for something fun that will happen in the future doesn’t mean I can’t also be happy right now.

Working hard and anticipating something stressful that I need to give attention to doesn’t mean I can’t stop for a moment, take a breath, and be happy in just this one quiet moment.

For me the time that I most often remind myself that “Right now, I am happy” is as I’m pulling into my garage.  It is a routine moment.  At that moment I don’t have to be figuring anything out, or calculating my budget, or planning out dinner.  For that one moment I recognize that I can choose to be happy.

I smile to myself as I’m climbing out of my car.

I know that life is good.

I can choose to be happy in this moment and let that carry over into the rest of my life.

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