Sunday, January 22, 2012

Happiness III: What do you focus on?

OK. Here goes part III of my thinking about happiness posts.

So I'm happier this week. I'm still stressed and worried about a lot of things. But I'm learning to accept that since I'm a worrier and since my life seems destined to be full of excitement and projects and opportunities (quite a bit of which I DO thrive on), I need to learn to find happiness amidst the stress and hard times rather than entertaining the thought that happiness is something that comes AFTER the stress and hard times are over.

What do you see in this photo?

I walked past this scene the other day and it brought me joy. The flowers looked so lovely in the sun and I love my old windows. I love fresh flowers but I rarely feel I've got money to spare to buy something that seems a bit "frivolous." These flowers were given to me for a speech I did last week and they've lasted amazingly long and brought me lots of joy.

My camera was sitting right there so I snapped a photo.

Then I realized there were a lot of not-so-pretty things in the picture. Did you notice the messy papers and piles? What about the chips and scratches on the table? Did you notice how dirty the window are in the background? What about those snowflakes the kids made that have been up there for a couple months and should probably come down? Did you notice how close our neighbor's house is right through those windows? (Luckily we love our neighbors but I do wish they'd thought to put just a few more feet between these houses...)

And that got me thinking. I'm happy when I notice and celebrate and focus on the beauty and goodness that is always to be found in life. I'm happy when I choose not to dwell on the imperfections and hard stuff.

As I think back on this past week, I choose to focus on the coziness and tastiness and fun of making cookies with the kids while beautiful snow finally fell all afternoon on Saturday - rather than focusing on the big spilled oatmeal mess and the way the boys whined about shoveling the driveway. I choose to focus on the excitement and accomplishment the kids and I felt at how good their rooms looked after a thorough cleaning and rearranging rather than the frustrating moments when the kids got off-task. I choose to focus on how cute Ashton was saying goodbye to the little kids he babysits when I went to pick him up rather than the fact that he forgot an important homework assignment right after we had a another big talk about school and grades. I choose to focus on how nice it was to watch a movie snuggled between the twins with Isaac reaching over to play with my hair and Ashton offering great commentary rather than focusing on Eliza's grumpiness about our movie choice and insistence on sitting in an uncomfortable way on the floor to try to make us all sorry for picking a movie she didn't like when she couldn't even think of anything she didn't like about it. I choose to focus on how Jared fixed a leak in the basement and did umpteen other really helpful and kind things for me and for the kids rather than focusing on a couple things he did or didn't do this week that made me feel a little bit invisible.

Happiness is all in where I place my focus.

This isn't exactly a brand new idea. And it's not so easy to focus on the positive when the negative is bearing down upon you or your mind just isn't feeling all that open to happy thoughts. But still, I can work on this more.


Anonymous said...

so true - and you know what I saw in that picture? yes, beautiful flowers and beautiful light, but more than anything I saw a little cozy nook with evidence that a family gathers there together - what a lovely little spot to nestle into, to sit together and work on homework or to do lists, or crafts. a little nook of happiness!

Laura said...

I think you would enjoy this TED talk on scientific research on happiness. Seligman, the founder of positive psychology, describes three types of happy lives. I think you live the life of engagement as well as the meaningful life; from your posts on happiness, I think you are trying to work on living what Seligman calls the pleasant life as well - savoring, mindfulness, etc.

Felicity said...

I couldn't agree more!! Am really enjoying your happiness series :)

Lynda Wallenfels said...

I have enjoyed all of your happiness posts. Thanks for writing.

SupaFlowaPowa said...

worddddd girl. you nailed it. i'm trying to do that but all i see are dirty dishes, a messy dining table and laundry folded but still sitting in the basket left to be unloaded and rightfully placed into our drawers. ahhhh will try more.

Brianna said...

love is all about our outlook on things! thanks for sharing!


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