{happiness challenge} making do and having it all

Friday, June 28, 2013

I have to admit, when I started this week's challenge of "making do with what you have" I thought I had it pegged. A good reminder, I said to myself, I could always stand to tighten up the budget and maybe I'll finish one of my unfinished repurposing projects.

But as I thought more about it and went about my week, things started to jump out to me and frame a different kind of perspective on the quote from Elder Boyd K Packer that went along with the challenge:

"Happiness will depend on what each of us does with what each has, what we learn from what we do, and what we do thereafter." (Liahona, June 1991)
 One of the things that I came across this week that really got me thinking about making do in a different way was this Ted Talk by Shawn Achor about the science and practical application of being happy.

As Shawn points out, our external circumstances and life situation only account for 10% of our happiness. It's not the things that happen to us or what we have that makes us happy, but what we do with it.

I really think that happiness and optimism can change your life, that you can choose to be happier. All of the objects and events in life are amoral, meaning they are neither good or bad, just things that are and things that happen. They become good or bad when the human element interacts with them. Even death is just an event until you apply the human relationships and emotions that surround that event and it can become sad, relieving, tender, or any other of a million human emotions. It can't have an effect on us unless we apply our human sentimentality to it. And we can choose what human sentiments we apply to events and circumstances and thus choose their effect on us.

Not to say that it is easy.We can apply optimism and love and focus on the wonderful things, or let anger and fear rule us. It's our choice. Optimism takes work, but like any work it becomes easier the more you do it, and the more you do, the stronger your happy muscles get until one day it is easier to be optimistic than to be disappointed or sad. And just like much of the work of the Plan of Happiness we can not do it alone. Our Heavenly Father not only provided the Savior to help us, but a world full of people and opportunities to help us over come our obstacles. Sometimes we are strong enough to choose to be happy, but other times we need to be strong enough to get help being happy. We don't have to have perfect happy muscles yet, we just have to be dedicated to getting stronger.

And it can start with gratitude.

"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.  It turns what we have into enough, and more.  It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity.  It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.  Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow."  Melody Beattie

What each of us has does not always match up to what we want. I have a job when I'd rather have the freedom to spend more time with my family and creating beautiful things like a home and memories and dresses and rose bushes that bloom with all the beauty they can muster. But my happiness doesn't depend on whether I have a job or not. It depends on what I do with this job, with the money I earn that helps take care of my family, the things I learn from it like prioritizing my time, and what I do with this experience hereafter. I am always learning from this job and have gained continued knowledge about the apparel industry and manufacturing, but more importantly a lot about people that I can teach my children to help them understand and share compassion and love with others in their lives. I am grateful for that and for my job. I am grateful for a lot of things in my life. Especially the people.

As you may have noticed, I have thought a lot about the time I have with my family. Not just in regards to our weekly schedule and balancing work and family, but in the big picture. I don't know how long I will have my BH or my Baby Girl with me, or how long they will have me with them. But I do know that no matter how long that is, we will be happy with the time we have had together. We've let some of it slip away in disagreements and wasted time, but so much of it is spent in happiness and love and companionship that I believe we will always have enough memories and love, even if we don't have all the time we'd like.

So go love on your loved ones and make the best with what you have. Live in the optimistic part of yourself. Flex your happiness muscles and then use them to strengthen others. And most of all, know that Heavenly Father loves you and wants you to be happy. This I know.

Monica Lynn

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  1. I totally agree... optimism does take work and happiness is a choice. I say this to my children a lot 'I can choose to be happy'. Many people allow themselves to become victims of their circumstances, but I think if we want to lead a happy life we just have to learn how to make lemonade with the lemons life throws us.


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