How To Be Happy (Really)

There is a common misconception in the world, that if a person is sad, they have no happiness, and vice versa. If a person is happy, then they are never sad. I think for moms this misconception is even more prevalent than for most others. If a mom is struggling, having a bad day, or even if her house has one iota of dust lying around, she must be unhappy. She isn’t doing her job, she may even be -dare we utter the word- *depressed*…. Or if a mom has everything in order, her kids perfectly match, her own clothes are immaculate, and her hair and makeup are done beautifully, she is obviously the picture of what it means to be happy. The truth is most of us have our good days and our bad. Some days we are happy, and some days we are sad. Sometimes we have depression, or anxiety, or are just so exhausted we can’t even identify what we are feeling. Sometimes that exhaustion is how we know that everything we go through, everything we do, is worth it.

Moms have so much going on. Other people, even other moms, may not understand what you, specifically, are going through. You have hormones, and lord knows every kid is different, not to mention differences in circumstances, and husbands, and personalities, and even the way you yourself were parented. I need you to know that you are not alone. There are other moms out there, who although they may not be going through exactly the same thing as you, they do understand. Somewhere out there, someone understands. And really, chances are, somewhere out there, someone really has been there too.

Now being happy, and I mean really, truly happy, is a hard thing. It is difficult to even know exactly what “happy” is, or what it feels like. Personally, I think happiness is different for everyone. There are so many versions of happiness. You have to figure out which one is your real, true happiness, and then figure out how to keep making it happen. Is your happiness a euphoric feeling, is it pure joy, or maybe bliss? Is it the feeling you get when you look at a beautiful sunset, or when you drink a glass of your favorite wine? Or maybe it is that feeling of holding your baby for the very first time?

Whatever it is, find it, remember it, and hold on. For me happiness is a little of all of those things. It’s nostalgia, and remembering how things used to be. It’s letting the sadness in just enough. It is also remembering to put away my selfishness (because I am a very selfish person, who likes things my way), and remember how good it feels to just be nice to other people. It is looking in my husband’s eyes and knowing how much he loves me, or spending the day wrapped in the embraces of my kids. It’s even letting go of my frustration, and letting my kids get away with something that would normally make me mad, just because (like them playing soccer with our Christmas ornaments, don’t worry, they are plastic).

I have to give a little nod to the Disney Pixar movie Inside Out. They really hit the nail on the head with that one. If you haven’t seen it, I strongly encourage you to make it a family night. It is well worth it. The thing is, all of our emotions are important, and the only way to be really, truly happy, is to find the balance. Let your anger out and feel the sad with the happy. One of my favorite, and completely hormonally controlled, feelings, is when I nurse my son. I don’t feel a rush of euphoria, like some people. I also don’t experience a deep sadness like some others. I am filled with an overwhelming love for my son and that makes me laugh and cry all at the same time. Yes, my husband looks at me like I’m crazy… however, it is one of the happiest times of my day. I get the same feeling every time one of my older boys tells me “I love you mom”, or when my husband looks at me and tells me even after giving birth 3 times, and even weighing drastically more than when we got married, he still thinks I’m beautiful.

I guess what I am trying to say, is that to be happy, and again I mean really, truly happy, you have to take it all. Find your balance. Figure out the calm inside the storm. To paraphrase one Charles Xavier in X-Men First Class, true focus lies between rage and serenity (yes, I’m a nerd, I know). I believe true happiness lies somewhere in there also. It is a fine balance, but without the sadness and the anger and the gloppity gloop of hormones and other emotions, true happiness wouldn’t be attainable. You may suffer from depression, or anger, or anxiety, or maybe even something like chronic joy. Just remember that real, true happiness is out there, and it may look a little different than you expected.

-Written for you by Okay Mom Brittany Rice

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