The #1 key to happiness
"How can I be happy?" That's what my 5-year old daughter asked me one day. My husband was out of town and she was missing him terribly. She was getting ready for bed, collapsing on the bathroom floor between each get-ready-for-bed task. "I miss Daddy," she said as slumped onto the floor and curled up into a ball. Her despair was palpable (and heartbreaking, as always, for this mama to witness). Then she turned to me and asked: "Mama, how can I stop feeling sad? How can I feel happy?" That's when I felt like time stopped. I knew instantly I was embarking on one of those teachable moments — and on a topic very close to my heart (and business), no less. This is what I explained to her: Happiness is always a choice. It's not always an easy choice. But it's up to you to decide that you want to feel happy and take steps to make that happen. It's also absolutely okay and completely normal to NOT feel happy sometimes. To just feel sad or angry or frustrated. But it's not okay to ACT on those feelings. In my daughter's situation, that means it's totally understandable for her to miss her daddy and wish he was home. It's okay to feel sad and cry about missing him. And to ask for extra cuddles and time with me while he's away. But it's not okay to hit or yell at me because she's sad. It also means that she can do activities that make her feel happy, like playing with her toys, taking a bath, running and jumping, and many of her other favorites. Because she doesn't have to stay sad forever. Now, I know this is overly simplified because it's geared toward a child, but the same principles apply to us grown ups. It's safe to feel whatever emotions arise in us, but it's not okay to act on those emotions. So if you're wanting to move past your own unhappiness, consider starting with this one step — deciding that you will feel happier. That conscious choice will set you on the path toward happiness. It won't always be easy, but it will help you stay focused so you can take other steps to feel happy again.