Some days, life piles on the crap. Your kid has a meltdown and it’s not even 7 a.m. The coffee machine has inexplicably stopped working. Most of your clothes are buried in that massive pile o’ laundry in the basement. You remember you had a dentist appointment…four hours after it was supposed to happen. Oh, and (gasp!) your roots are showing. Crap yada yada yada.
You just want to hide under the covers and call “do-over!” Except that the kids are screaming for dinner.
Boosting happiness even on life’s most trying days isn’t that hard, as I discovered in an article in June’s Health magazine titled “9 Ways To Go On A Bliss Trip.” (I’m an editor there.) You should actually go buy the issue, because it supports my livelihood! Also, because this piece is full of super-simple, proven tips that even the busiest mom can do. One of my favorite strategies: Think about stuff for which you’re thankful. Research shows that people who are grateful on a regular basis are more likely to report feeling content.
True, this means you need actual time to THINK, no mean feat on rush-rush-rush days. But if you can just dedicate a little brain power to this, it works. I tried it recently, when I was walking home from the train at the end of a workday. It had been a long, busy one and I had a long, busy evening ahead of me—the usual lineup of dinner-homework-snack-bath-bedtime, plus a bunch of camp forms to fill out and some financial situation I needed to discuss with my husband. I wasn’t a very happy camper.
So I forced myself to think about stuff I am grateful for. The way our neighborhood looks in spring, with green-green lawns and glorious pink, yellow and red flowers everywhere. How lucky I am to have work I enjoy (and work, period). The farm-stay weekend in Pennsylvania I’d recently planned for summer. The great book I’m reading for book club (What Alice Forgot). My son’s excitement the day before when the Lightning McQueen clock I ordered came in the mail. The spray of freckles on my daughter’s nose and cheeks that I’d kissed before leaving the house.
My mental woo-hoo! list worked—I immediately felt happier. This has become my little ritual when I walk home from the train, and it sets the tone for the evening. Happiness, like many things in life, lies in your perspective. And if you can just dedicate a minute or two to thinking about The Good Stuff, your outlook will be a whole lot brighter. Even if your child has five more meltdowns before bedtime.
Photo source: Flickr/Gisela Giardino