Christmas is hard on my heart. I do not have a relationship with my parents, and we lost a baby who was due on Christmas. Most of the time, the holidays, stir up feelings of not being enough or sadness. Common questions from others, about spending time with parents and gift exchanges feel like internal paper cuts.
It’s easy to let myself fall deeper into a pit of sorrow. I’ve troubled myself with questions of why people do not love me, why everything seems harder for me, or why do I have to deal with this? Over the years, I’ve realized I’m not seeing the big picture – I’m only seeing myself.
In the past, I’ve wallowed in self-pity versus seeing other people and their struggles. When you’re in the thick of sadness, it’s hard to sympathize someone else’s pain and recognize that others are hurting. It took me a long time to ditch my self-centered outlook and believe I’m not the only person who struggles with estrangement, death and disconnect.
I’ve chosen to make a conscious effort to remember the blessings I have and recognize that I am not the only person experiencing grief. I am thankful for my husband, my two healthy kids, my best friend, and the other individuals who show up for me.
Happiness is a choice. Studies report the average person makes 35,000 choices every day – and happiness is one of them. All choices require giving up something. Even though everyone has different factors, the power of making a good or bad choice can be very important and integral to a person’s overall well-being.
For me, in this season, choosing happiness requires me to not attend baby showers but communicate honestly with friends as to why. For me, in this season, we’ve chosen to stay home for the holidays because we want to be comfortable in our home and not worry about being stretched too thin. I’ve realized happiness is going to be different every day. The reality is that life is hard, but understanding nothing worthwhile is easy.
Choosing to be happy means:
- Identifying every day what I am grateful for. I can repeat items multiple times, and nothing is too small. Today I’m grateful for Chick-Fil A, Nashville sunsets and my job.
- Being honest – even when it hurts. Faking it until you make it, isn’t always a good option.
- Relishing in contentment. Most of our culture is obsessed with having the latest and best, increasing benchmarks and never stopping. Contentment isn’t settling or stopping. Contentment is slowing down, so you can appreciate what makes you happy.
- Playing worst case scenario. I’m not saying you have to be ‘half-glass full’ every day but humble yourself and identify the things going right. We come face-to-face with a dose of humility when something terrible happens – a loved one dies or a medical diagnosis. However, many of us forget that feeling or choose not to use that situation as a life lesson.
- Quit comparing. Everyone has their own factors and vibe. Stop believing the filtered renditions you see. Create habits that cultivate gratitude for the life you have.
The first step to being happy is recognizing it’s a choice.
I came across a quote by Vienna Pharaon. “Sometimes the things that will be healing for you will be disruptive to others. Sometimes setting healthy boundaries for yourself will be interpreted as betrayal to others. And sometimes the decisions you make for your life that you understand will be misunderstood by others. Work on getting comfortable in that space.”
Be honest with yourself, what season are you in? What boundaries and habits should you create? How can you choose happiness today?