Years ago, when I saw a beloved aunt on her walker for the first time, I said “I’m sorry to hear about your legs”. She replied, “I just focus on the body parts that work.” What follows is my recent experiment on consciously putting my aunt’s words into practice.
June 20th, I embarked on an exercise called “100 days of happiness” based on a book by the same name. I never read the book; I had seen postings on social media. Yesterday was my 100th day. I spent this whole summer season noticing and reflecting on something, every day, which had enriched me in some way. Then I shared what I was grateful for on FB. There were friends who recognized themselves and shared their personal stories or just took the time to congratulate me. This added to my feelings of gratitude, increasing my happiness exponentially.
A few people have mentioned that I am luckier than they are, because I have such a busy and active life with so many good things happening to me. I disagree with their perception. My life was, and is, probably not much different than theirs.
Without attracting the negative, while it’s true that I was blessed with excellent holidays and wonderful family time, I also attended one unexpected funeral and came to terms with other deaths which I could not attend.
During the summer, the residence my mother lives in continued to make serious medical errors (one of them would have killed her). On top of that, I had unexpected expensive repairs to contend with, my teenagers rolled their eyes at me and I struggled with health concerns and chronic pain. These regular events previously would gotten fed by my old ANTs (Automatic Negative Thoughts). Occasionally, I vented; but mostly, I purposely move on and focused on what was working that day.
I became more conscious and consistent in choosing my emotions and my subsequent behaviors – or maybe its the other way around. If I wanted to give an analogy of what happened, imagine wondering what’s on the other side of a door, and telling yourself there’s probably something bad – like last time. This experience has helped me to expect that there is more good than bad on the other side. Could you see yourself opening up the door more often and looking for the good things? I do now!
Let me tell you what I noticed:
- I felt grateful for small considerate behaviors and unexpected kindnesses.
- I felt more sexually attracted to my husband. (I love you Ger-Bear).
- I felt appreciation that my children are bright, healthy and kind to others (despite the eye rolls).
- I became more productive and effective in my work life.
- I found that injustices seemed to trigger curiosity instead of anger, compassion instead of retaliation.
- I was able to be more generous without worrying about being taken advantage of.
- I gave myself permission to take more risks, make more mistakes and sleep more; guilt free.
Happiness is an inside job. It is an energy that we invite and welcome into our lives to totally affect our self-esteem and resilience. It really doesn’t matter what our circumstances are. Let’s face it; no one is immune from money problems, sickness, funerals or a bad hair day. Conversely, we also have love, kindness, aptitudes and capabilities as well as unexpected good news. How we view our lives is about what we say to ourselves and what we choose to focus on.
I encourage you to try this experiment. Share your successes with someone that will keep you accountable, or post it on a social media like I did. Whatever you do, however far you go, I believe that you will deepen your appreciation on the abundance in your life and the love that is available to you.
What has been your experience when it comes to inviting happiness into your life? How do you tap into the love for that difficult family member when they are showing their stubborn streak? What do you find reduces your ANTs and elevates your positive self-talk even when things are rough? I’d love to hear from you below.
In the meantime, may you and your loved ones vibrate to happiness.