Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Gifts of Happiness

I have been thinking a lot about happiness this week.  I've been reading the book "The Happiness Project", and it has been very thought provoking.  I didn't expect to gain anything from it, I just was intrigued to read about someone else's "project".  It's one of the fun things I've found with my e-reader.  I can browse the library and find things that I normally wouldn't give a second glance, download it, and see if it's worth my time to read.  I'm only about half-way through this book, so I can't yet give it a ringing endorsement.  I can say, however, that my opinion of it is changing the further I go.  In the first part, I was thinking much more negatively about it, that this author's very quest for "happiness" was actually making her so self-absorbed that she was sure to go in the opposite directions.  Now, however, I am realizing that it is much less about being self-absorbed and much more about just stepping out of her own bubble. 

I've always been a big believer that if you are lacking happiness, you are lacking gratitude.  No matter what our circumstances, there is ALWAYS something to be grateful for.  And I'm an even bigger believer in making JOY more of a focus than happiness.  While happiness may depend on your current circumstances, joy can be in you continually.  Joy can just be IN you!  I could go on and on about this, but I will stay on the path I intended...

So I'm learning some interesting things about what studies have shown about happy people.  I don't know if any of it is new, but just having it pointed out and going, "oh, yeah...that's true!" has been fun.  For example, the very simple fact that moods are contagious.  Stop and think about that.  Happy people (or joyful people) spread happiness.  Angry people can stir up anger in other people.  Whiny people pull other people into whining right along with them.  I think of that in my home.  It's easier than I would like it to be some days for me to set the mood in my home.  If I'm uptight, my kids reflect that.  If I'm outright irritated and snipping at everyone, then surely my kids are going to be snipping at each other.  And on the upside, when I'm in a peaceful, joyful place, more than likely my kids will also absorb that and feel that themselves.  It truly is contagious.

A fun statistic I learned (I love statistics, wherever they come from) is that a hug needs to last 6 seconds in order for all the feel-good endorphins to be released.  Try it.  Especially when you are uptight.  I know that when I've had a long day, and I get a long hug from Brad, I truly do feel myself relaxing.  So lately I've been taking longer hugs.  I told Brad that he had to hug me for at least 6 seconds when he comes home.  He was happy to oblige.  Of course, it has to be someone you want to hug for that long or you probably instead would have your blood pressure rising instead of your endorphins rising!  (And I'm so curious how they get those statistics!)

Another interesting section I read last night was discussing how we need to simply define what makes us happy, with no regard to what we think should make us happy.  It was so good, because so many times we can get sucked into thinking we should enjoy something because everyone tells us we should.  Or "everyone else likes it so I should too".  That one really made me think. 

And also, taking the time to be silly.  The author talks about how as a mother, she often is so focused on finishing a task, that she overlooks opportunities to make the task fun.  Oh, that is so me.  She gave an example of unloading groceries, trying to get them put away and her husband pulled out 3 oranges and started juggling, to the great delight of his kids.  Instead of enjoying the moment, she was irritated that the groceries were not being put away.  Yeah, I've been there.  Maybe not with juggling oranges, but in some similar way.  So that's a new task...to be willing to have a little fun doing the mundane things.

So I'm intrigued enough to finish the book. 

And on a similar note, here is a rush of happiness I had the pleasure of experiencing yesterday.  In the midst of being buried in a bunch of administrative busy-work, the UPS man delivered a package to my door.  I hauled this very large but very light box inside, saw it was addressed to Brad, and set it aside to get back to my busyness.  A short time later I was talking to Brad and asked him if he was expecting a package.  He said, "Oh,it came!  You can open it, it's actually a surprise for you!"  Well, my heart went all a-flutter at the excitement of opening a "surprise".  So I opened it, and here's what my man sent to me:

Well, be still my heart from going all a-flutter.  I didn't even know I wanted this.  Or needed this.  But apparently I wanted it and needed it.  I'm using it now as a matter of fact.  Now I need to end this and go buy Brad a new cookie sheet.  And I'll be very happy doing it!

1 comment:

  1. Brad is always so good at knowing JUST WHAT YOU WANT, or need. (it may not seem like it at the time)but it always seems like in the end it is JUST what you wanted, congrats! I want to read this book....sounds great!Now, I am off to put groceries away, with a HAPPY ATTITUDE DANGIT!