What if we changed our perspective and started focusing on joy…not happiness? How would that change us?
I was listening to that Scheryl Crow song the other day..Soak up the Sun. There’s a line that says “It’s not having what you want, it’s wanting what you’ve got.” I’ve listened to that song for many years, never giving much pause to it’s meaning or that line in particular. But for whatever reason, the other day I really HEARD that line.
Maybe it’s because I’m married now, but no longer a newlywed. My husband is still very much my soul mate, but after 12 years of marriage, he doesn’t love every quirky trait of mine and I am often too worn out after a full day of being a SAHM that I don’t blame him.
We live in a wonderful neighborhood with good friends…but isn’t there always someone who has more, lives in a bigger home, or seems to have it more together than you? I am beyond blessed with my two beautiful little girls but on their worst days, there are temper tantrums, sibling arguments, restless nights, and a multitude of viruses.
And that’s when it hit me…this is it. Life isn’t perfect and guess what? It’s NEVER going to be. So if perfection is what we are striving for, we are either going to be continually disappointed or we need to change our definition of perfection..
Who says a big house, expensive clothes or a fancy car is the dream? What if we changed our focus from one of being happy to being joyful??? Being happy is volatile. It’s dependent on our circumstances. Did I get that raise? How is my hair doing this morning? Did my kids make the honor roll? Was I recognized at work for my hard work? Do I feel skinny? Did the morning send-off to school and work go well?
Can you see the inherent problem with this mind-set? All of these scenarios can go positively or negatively, often regardless of our personal choices. I mean, yes, saying no to that candy bar can help your jeans feel better but no one gets to choose the day their kid comes home with a stomach virus.
So what if your focus was on being joyful? On finding peace and contentment with the way things are, not the way we want them to be. On realizing that so much in our life is out of our control so why not embrace what IS?
Take, for example, this situation: Your morning started with you oversleeping by 30 minutes. You missed your morning cup of coffee. Your kids would not get along and none of them wanted to go to school that day. You barely make it to school drop off, only to realize as you’re pulling out from school to head to your next appointment that the gas tank is sitting on E. Can’t we all say that we have been here? And it’s barely 9:30am! I know I am so quick to think, wow this is a crappy day and I’m sure it’s all downhill from here. And then I begin what I call my self-fulfilling prophecy.
But what if you viewed your morning, this same morning, this way: Wow, I cannot believe I got an extra 30 minutes of sleep this morning. We may be a little more rushed but we will all be more rested. My girls aren’t getting along this morning and don’t want to go to school, but I know I feel that way sometimes too. I’ll cut them some slack and tell them that it’s okay to not want to go to school. But sometimes we have to do things we don’t want to and at the end of the day, I can’t wait to hear 2 new things they learned today. Oh no, my gas tank is on empty! I certainly hadn’t planned for this but I’m thankful I have some money to put gas into my car.
Same morning – different perspective. I’m not about to tell you that things are always coming up roses in the Cole house. But I will say that 95% of the time, if I focus on joy and not on things I can’t change, things are certainly a lot rosier.
But focusing on joy in our life will actually in turn …make us happier!
I leave you with this example of focusing on joy…last year my older daughter went through a multitude of tests and procedures to try and find out why she was chronically tired. We had been spending way too much time in doctor’s offices and she was honestly done with it. In trying to have some bloodwork done, her pediatrician’s office was unable to draw the blood, but only after gouging her a few times in a painful attempt. We were then sent to a laboratory to see if they would have success but were disappointed there as well.
We finally ended up at our local hospital in hopes that their phlebotomists would be able to find her vein. At this point, we (me and both of my girls) had been in and out of offices for about 4 hours. We were all spent. It took 3 or 4 phlebotomists to find my sweetie’s vein and draw the blood. I was incredibly proud of her and told her we could go to Target to pick out a small prize.
As I was pushing the cart, my older daughter was hanging on to the end and her baby sister was sitting in the front. I knew the day had been rough and started singing and swerving the cart like a crazy lady just to cheer the girls up. At that point, Hannah looked at me and said, Mommy, this is the best day ever! I teared up at her words…she had found the secret to happiness..she had found JOY!