Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Sometimes You've Just Got to Wear a Weird T-Shirt: Thoughts on Being Happy


Lately, I've been thinking a lot about happiness. Truth be told, I've struggled with it recently. Jared started his new job, and it has been a great opportunity for us as a family. The only downside that I could see was his schedule change. At his previous job, he woke up at 4:30 in the morning, and was home around 2 or 3 in the afternoon. My music lessons coincided with his work schedule, so when he was home, we could be together and enjoy the rest of the day. Even though were were both busy, we were at least busy together. I liked that. Now his new schedule is a regular 8-5 schedule, and I felt like we were missing each other more than we were actually together. 

I was not adjusting well. I had plenty of work to do, bouquets to make, lessons to teach, but I was miserable.

Finally, after a week or two of feeling sorry for myself, I gave myself a stern talking-to. Why are you being like this? Don't you know this is a good opportunity? Don't you realize how glad Jared is to be doing something different? Don't you realize this is what most people's schedules are like and you're just being a baby? Don't you want to pay off the house and be free from that debt?

The answer to all of those things was, of course, yes. I knew in my head that this was a great opportunity for us, and Jared is obviously happier. I knew I was being a spoiled brat about the schedule and that everyone lived like that. But knowing those things didn't change how I felt. I was feeling sad and mopey because I wasn't getting what I wanted anymore. But it's not always about me, is it? (Just in case I forget later, the answer is no.)

So, eventually my bad attitude annoyed me so much, I decided to do something about it. Here's my list of things that make me happy and helped bring me out of my funk. Maybe it can help y'all too. 

  • Open the curtains. I was hiding myself away like a vampire in the daytime. Once I flung open the curtains and let some sunshine in, I felt a little more human.
  • Eat pasta. If someone ever tells you that pasta doesn't make them happy, you need to remove that person from your life. Honestly. You don't need that kind of negativity. In my opinion (and there may be some scientific evidence to back this up, so comment and let me know), eating pasta creates chemical change in your brain and unlocks true and lasting happiness. Seriously. I love pasta. 
  • Figure out what you're actually upset about. I was picking fights with Jared over stupid crap for a week before I figured out that I wasn't really upset with him; I was upset over the change. If you think you've got more going on than just run-of-the-mill sadness, see my next point.
  • Talk with someone about it. Call your mama. Or my mama. Talk to your sister. Talk to your husband. Talk with a stranger on the bus about it. Better yet, talk to Jesus about it. Talk with your pastor for some Godly counseling. And if you're not into that sort of thing, talk with someone in an official capacity(counselor, psychologist, professional pasta-eater) that can help you sort it out. 
  • Sing. To quote a Johnny Cash song, "Singin' seems to help a troubled soul." It's hard to feel sad when you're singing. (note: avoid singing anything by Adele or Eva Cassidy because those two artists will DESTROY you emotionally.) Find something fun to sing and just let it go. If you have someone to sing with, practice singing harmony because once you figure it out you will feel like a million dollars. (Plus, here's a whole Buzzfeed article about it!)
  • Think about how good you've really got it. When I look at my life, I have no reason to complain. Even when things truly were awful, by comparison, my life is wonderful. I have a warm house, a loving family, and pets and people that love me. My wi-fi connection is pretty good, and Jesus is a part of my life. We've all got problems and issues, but things could always be worse. I heard a saying once that was something like, "If we all threw our problems in a pile and then saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back." Sometimes life isn't too bad, and it's important to remember that. 
  • Set up your home in a way that makes you happy. If putting a box of Cheez-its on your bedside table so that it is the first thing you see in the morning and Cheez-its make you happier than anything else, by all means, do that. If putting funky junk on your walls and burning 80 candles at a time makes you happy, then do that. If you spend most of your time at the office, figure out a way to make that a happy space. (I suggest Cheez-its.) Buy yourself flowers. Or pick some pretty weeds if you're broke and can't afford to buy them. Create an environment that is conducive to happiness. 
  • Wear clothes that make you feel good. I was going through my clothes the other day, deciding what to keep and what to get rid of. I've...um...outgrown several really cute dresses and with each one that I tried on, I was getting more and more upset. By the time I reached the skirts, I was so sad, I didn't want to keep going, but I did, and I'm so glad because I found my high-waisted skirts hiding in the back of the closet. If you're ever feeling bad about yourself, put on a high-waisted skirt. I've never seen a woman, thick or thin, wear one and it look bad on them. A-lines are from God above, y'all. I looked hot to trot! So ladies, go find one and have it in your closet for those days when you feel sad. (Men, you can too if you want. I don't care/know what you do in the privacy of your own home. It's your life!) I feel the same way about weird t-shirts. That's why I love my Pigcasso shirt. It's funny, I love it, and I feel good wearing it.  Anything that makes you feel like a million bucks when you wear it needs to be a staple in your wardrobe. Some days just call for a weird t-shirt.
Sometimes when you're in a funk, you just have to make up your mind to be happy. In the Bible, when David was being chased by the Amalekites, he was all alone and he had to encourage himself. If he can do it while being run down by a whole army of folks, surely I can do it under significantly less duress. I'm not saying it's easy because sometimes it's not. Sometimes life can really suck. I'm not so naive that I think the world is constantly sunflowers and roses, but I know that the brave and hard thing is sometimes the best thing. Falling prey to our default negative nature is the easy thing to do. So often we focus on the negative. In fact, if you ask someone how their day way, 9 times out of 10, they will tell you what bad thing happened, how someone cut them off in traffic, how the boss doesn't appreciate them, etc... it's our nature, and that really sucks.

BUT! We get to choose how we react to the things life throws at us. We can decide how we let things affect us.  Does choosing happiness change our circumstances? Most of the time, no. But I'm significantly more pleasant to be around in the process, that's for sure. Jared's schedule is still the same. Now we work separately. We still get very limited time together that we have to share with other people, but now I can actually enjoy the time we have together instead of picking petty fights and being generally disagreeable and dumb. I'm a better person for choosing to be happy, even when it's hard. 

2 comments:

  1. "We get to choose how we react to the things life throws at us" Exactly. Recently, I had the benefit (or displeasure) or learning how true this statement really is. It is what it is, and what I always tell myself when I'm going through a rough patch "This too shall pass"

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    1. Sometimes these experiences really are hard to come to grips with, but hopefully we come out of it on the other side better, not bitter! I hope your rough patches are few and far between!

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