Does it ever seem like our culture is so focused on happiness–books and products and courses promising bliss–and yet most people seem kind of unhappy? I think the reason is that we’re focused on the wrong things. While I know we can’t be happy all the time, I think it all boils down to three secrets to happiness.
I will preface this by saying that I’m just a normal person. I’m certainly not happy all the time because no human being is, but I learned these secrets the hard way, after I was suffering from Postpartum Depression after the birth of my first child.
I had lost my beloved grandfather when my daughter was just two weeks old and I was grieving, but I didn’t want to cry in front of my baby. Plus, I was all alone—my husband works very long hours, and my wonderfully helpful mom, who I was counting on to help me transition into motherhood, was grieving too, and unable to help me. My daughter was colic—and if you didn’t have a colic baby, you probably will not believe me, but she cried all the time.
I was at the point where I felt like I couldn’t do it. But I realized that if I couldn’t do it, if I couldn’t pull myself up and out of the darkness, nobody would be there to take care of my baby. It had to be me; I had to make myself happy again. I thankfully had the help of a good therapist and a support group of PPD survivors. And, throughout that year, I learned how to take care of myself, something I never really did before. I learned what made me feel best and I learned how to fit that time into my life with my baby. My driving force? I had to do it for my baby. Now, I live to teach other moms what I had to learn the hard way.
Secret#1: Know Only You Can Make Yourself Happy
That’s it. Nobody else. Happiness is your responsibility and your responsibility only. Here’s the thing, this is really, really hard to come to terms with for most of us. I grew up hearing this from my grandma, all the time, and I still didn’t want to believe it.
Whenever I was down about something growing up (always something silly). She would say, well, what’s going to make you feel better? Only you can cheer yourself up.
It’s true. Yes, when we’re lucky enough to have loved ones who try to cheer us up and do kind things for us, it helps, but they’re not mind readers. Only we know what we need.
When I was in college she used to write me letters and I have one that I’ve kept for all those years. She wrote: “Life is what you make of it. So make yours happy.”
I talked a little about my grandma before and I’ll say it again: she was poor. She cleaned houses for a living, she lived in a one-bedroom apartment all of her life, and she was the happiest person I ever knew. Why? Because she knew exactly what made her feel better. She loved to sit on her favorite chair at the end of a long day, put her feet up, eat a sandwich, and watch Lifetime movies. That’s it. That made her happy. Simple, right?
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Secret #2: Figure out what Makes you Happy
I think that we sometimes forget about what we used to enjoy when we become mothers. Our kids take up so much of our time that we don’t have time to do the things that we loved. Check out this post here to help you connect with your bliss.
For me, I absolutely love to read a good book (something light, well-written, with a happy ending) on my favorite deck chair in the sunshine with an iced coffee in my hands. That, during a naptime, for even 20 minutes, is perfection to me.
I love to spend 15 or 20 minutes in a bubble bath with candles and a nice glass of wine. I look forward to something like that all day. Those little things make me happy.
I challenge you: keep trying out new thing. Find the one thing that really lights you up.
It’s the little things that make us happier, not necessarily a big house or a designer wardrobe or a fabulous vacation (although that helps). All the things that we might covet on social media are not the things that bring us joy. You usually can’t take a picture of happiness. You can’t post it on Facebook. It’s intangible.
The great thing is: we can all do those little things for ourselves: no matter our financial position, no matter if we are working moms, stay at home moms, work at home moms, whoever we are, we can make little changes that make a big impact.
Want to learn about little things you can do to make yourself happy? Sign up for my free course below!
Here’s what I mean: You have to give up control as a parent. We all know this. I learned that lesson early on. I bought a beautiful fancy stroller when I was pregnant for my daughter and I would dream about walking her around my neighborhood and taking her to the local Starbucks to get a cup of coffee, walking and cooing at her as she smiled back.
In reality? I remember walking her around my neighborhood when she was about 6 weeks old and she was wailing the entire time. She was crying so loud that my neighbor yelled, “She doesn’t like her ride?” No, she didn’t. And, I wasn’t able to take her into the stoller for another 3 months or so. Starbucks? That was out of the question. I tried once and got dirty looks from the teenagers there as she cried. I remember thinking, “The best laid plans..” over and over again that first year.
I’m a type a planner type, and I planned for a lot of things: nothing went according to plan. I’m sure you have a similar story.
It’s a very frustrating part of parenting. The most patient of us all is frustrated by this. That’s why we have to shift our focus away from the frustration, from anything that’s negative and focus instead on the things we can control: what can you do for yourself today?
Everyone, every single one of you reading this can do that. You can answer that question and you can do it. Even if you have a newborn at home.
You don’t have control over anyone else (that’s including your kids): but you do have control over your own actions.
You can choose what do. Believe it or not, every minute of every day you are making a choice. So here’s the choice that you MUST make: chose to do something for yourself every day. It might be really, really small like taking a shower or eating a cookie, but whatever it is, make that choice and do it for you.
Extra points if you can do the thing that makes you blissful and happy, if you see where I’m going with this. Once you know what makes you happy, you can do it, choose to do it. And, you have to plan for it. Use your planner, write it down, and make time for yourself.
You might have been with my up until I said that. You’re probably shaking your head saying, I wish I had time, but I don’t. I want to show you how to make time for yourself so you can do the things that make you happy.
Ready to take this journey with me? Let me show you the tools in my free course, Be a Happier Mom. Sign up below!