Do you remember having to look up vocabulary words in English class? For me it involved the use of a large hardcover dictionary, for some of you Dictionary.com or a similar website may have been your source. No matter what source was used, you found that most words were not limited to one definition, but often there were multiple meanings.
Happiness is a trending term. It is a broad word that many try to define narrowly. Many self-help books have been written on it, public speakers hold seminars and conferences about it, life coaches offer their services to help guide you to it…..
What does it mean?
Just like many other words, happiness has more than one definition. Dictionary.com gives two: the quality or state of being happy is the first and most basic meaning and the second is good fortune; pleasure; contentment; joy. So now that we have it defined, how do we reach this state of being happy? How do we obtain good fortune, pleasure, contentment, joy? Is it something to be pursued or do we already have it innately in us?
My Happy/Your Happy
For some happiness is attached to material things and social status. Careers, money, houses, cars, designer clothes, jewelry are the indicators of happiness for them. Relationships are the source of happiness for many: significant others, family, and friends determine whether or not they are happy. Others equate a spiritual connection to happiness. Having a relationship with God or their ascribed higher power defines their happy. I think that happiness is innately within us and that sometimes it gets buried underneath some “stuff” but it still lives. For me God is the main source of my happiness, but I believe that contentment with my relationships, career, and having some of the material things that I desire further contribute to it.
What does happiness mean to you?
How you choose to define your happiness is just that, your choice. Choose it on your own terms and not someone else’s borrowed definition.
I am a strong proponent of not living in the past, but it is good to visit there sometimes. So I paid it a visit today. I took a stroll down the proverbial memory lane, with music as my guide. Memories of when my husband and I first started dating, our wedding, and other highlights of our time together, brought both smiles and tears(happy ones). I sung in and out of tune, reminisced, and got that “old feeling” back. That feeling I had when I first fell in love with him resurfaced. Not that it had gone anywhere, but sometimes it gets buried under the complexities of “life”. No, can’t live there, but it felt really good visiting.
I’ve had this quote from Joel Osteen in the back of my mind since last week: “Don’t be pitiful when you can be powerful”. I posted it on my Facebook page on Tuesday and it has had a grip on me since.
Pitiful or powerful? You mean we can choose? Yes!!! In spite of any situation or circumstance that we are going through, we can choose to not allow it to pull us down and keep us in the abyss of pity, but instead to get up and stand strong in spite of…. Is it just that simple? Again the answer is yes.
The first and most important step is to make up in our mind that we want to be powerful and not pitiful. Then we strive to walk in this choice daily, by making decisions and taking actions that align with it.
What does this look like in action? You lose a job: Instead of panicking and going into depressed mode, you look at it as an opportunity to explore and obtain a new career. Facing the end of a relationship: Don’t allow the negative energy of anger and sadness to overtake you, instead turn it into something positive. Use this as a time to reflect and grow as an individual, take a class, find a new hobby, spend some time with people you may have neglected during your relationship. Death: We all know that it’s inevitable and often without warning, but that doesn’t stop the pain and grief that it brings. How can we turn the grief from pity to power? One way is to find a way to honor the lost loved one. This can be as simple as choosing to live a good life. Other suggestions include: becoming a donor to or volunteer at their favorite charitable organization, establishing a scholarship in their name, or doing something that they wanted to do, but never had the chance to. Find something that you know would make them smile at you from heaven.
The next time life throws you a curve ball, as it will, don’t let it knock you down, catch it and stand strong in your power.
It’s the day after the national day of thanks and gratitude aka Thanksgiving, so I thought it would be a good time to update you on how my no complaints challenge went. I accepted a challenge in which I could not complain about anything at all for 24 hours. How did it go? Overall it went pretty well. It was not easy however. When you’re focused on not complaining, you realize that small things that you might not otherwise consider complaints, actually are.
My 24 hour challenge started at 6:45 a.m. November 16th. I woke my daughter up at 7 am for school and had to immediately catch myself before I complained about her room being messy. I redirected myself by focusing on the facts that she’s healthy, doing well in school and band, active in church and sports, etc. Thinking about these things made the messy room a little less important (still made her clean it up after school though).
I woke up to surprise flowers and a card on my beside table that morning, so I knew it was going to be real easy for me not to have any complaints concerning my husband.
So throughout my day when I felt a complaint on the tip of my tongue I either turned it around into something positive or I swallowed it and went on. Car pulled out in front of me-said a prayer that they make it safely to their destination, long line in store and few registers open- used the time for Facebook scroll through and email check, lots of laundry to do-“happy that we have all of these nice clothes to wear”. That is how it went for the day and I am happy to say that I passed the test.
Doing this really put into perspective how small some of the issues that I might normally have complained about really were. Have I strayed since the challenge? Yes, some, but I am much more mindful of it now. I was never a big complainer, but I realize that I have so much to be grateful and thankful for (we all do), so I want to strive to live a complaint-free life. Yes, I believe it is possible and I am challenging myself to do better in this department day by day. Are you up for the challenge?
This week’s inspiration comes from the theme of a family reunion I attended this past weekend: “Family First”.
We hear “family over everything” quoted all the time. We say it, but is it really true? Our intentions are for it to be true, but quite often things get in the way. The start of a new career, a promotion, higher education, business ventures, and sometimes just life itself, are all things that sometimes push family into second or even third place. The pursuit of these things, frequently give us tunnel vision and family falls by the wayside, not completely forgotten, but maybe not given the proper attention. Phone calls grow fewer, visits delayed, special events not attended….
It happens to the best of us, so there’s no need to beat ourselves up about it. In the words of Maya Angelou now that we “know better let us do better”. Let’s keep pushing and pursuing, but at the same time remembering what’s most important: “Family First”.
Sometimes the very moment we have said or done something we instantly regret it, other times the regret takes awhile to set in, but nevertheless it comes. Whether it is “a” or “b”, we can’t take back our words or undo our actions, so let us take a few seconds to chew on our words before we spit them out and be mindful of what we are choosing to do and its possible impact before we do it.
Three Types of People You Need In Your Life:
(As quoted by Ray Lewis)
When I looked at my youngest daughter’s hair two years ago, when I decided to put a relaxer in it, all I saw was thick hair that was hard to manage (especially for someone lacking in hairstyling skills like myself).
Today when I took out her crochet braids (she is now 9 months relaxer free), I saw thick, beautiful, curly hair. The same locs that were there two years ago, adorned her head today. But I couldn’t see them then. All I could see was hours of washing, conditioning, detangling, and bumbling and stumbling my way through styling it.
As I marveled at her lovely mane, I received a revelation about how this “hairy situation” applies to life. Sometimes we look at a person and all we can see is a mess. But, what we fail to realize is that hidden underneath that “mess” is something beautiful. Because God doesn’t make mess, we can be assured that there is buried treasure within. So let us make effort to see beyond what we think we see and know.
The main ingredient for change is that there must first be a revelation that there is a need for change. A solution is preceded by a problem. If one doesn’t perceive a problem then one does not seek a solution.
Next, a desire for change is necessary. Even with a revelation of a need for change, a person who does not wish to change will not change, plain and simple. This desire needs to come from within because forced, shamed, or guilted change will not last.
Behind that desire to change, you need motivation in the mix. For some, simply wanting to be a better person is enough to motivate change. Other factors might be more extrinsic such as health(physical, spiritual, mental, and/or emotional) or salvaging a relationship. Motivation is a key ingredient because it is what will keep the person on track when the process of change becomes overwhelming.
The fourth ingredient is a plan. You know the saying “if you fail to plan, plan to fail”. What does change look like? What steps will be taken? are questions that need to be addressed.
The recipe completer is implementing the plan. Rolling the revelation, desire, motivation, and plan into action.
Knowing that you need change, having the desire to change, being motivated to change, and having a plan for change equates to nothing, without as Iyanla Vanzant would say, “doing the work”. “You’ve got to do the work”.
**I would be amiss if I failed to say, in this recipe for change, prayer is the binder.**
Halloween is right around the corner. A day to play dress up in masks and costumes and give and receive treats. This leads me to the revelation that some of us wear masks year round. Faces of pretense worn in attempts to hide reality. The false face of success for example. This mask portrays career or business success when the reality is, your career is at a stalemate and your business is in the red, on the verge of closure. Another popular mask is the having it all together face, donned to persuade others that your life is perfect, when the real is, that you are secretly falling apart. We have all experienced problems in our career or business and in our personal lives as well. If you are an exception to the rule, as my great grandmother used to say “just live a little while longer”. Today let’s give ourselves the treat and freedom of taking off our masks.