{happiness challenge} exercise meekness

Monday, October 21, 2013

Today I am just exhausted. Darling Babe is having a rough time in the evenings. I can't tell if she's getting more teeth, exercising her independent young mind, going through Mommy withdrawals from my working at the office more, or just not liking sleeping in her own crib (yes we co-sleep and have totally loved it but are now transitioning into cribby). Whatever it is, it's making it nearly impossible to get her to sleep at night. I know that it's normal, but when compared to just a week ago when it only took me five minutes to rock her to sleep at eight o'clock each and every night, it's rough.

So maybe it's lack of sleep. That's the easy excuse. But more than just being tired, this weekend I was down. And that's rare for me. I have my moments where I'm tired, frustrated, fussy, angry, what have you. But I haven't had that inexplicable gloomy dark weight to carry around for quite a while.

When I first started thinking about this next happiness challenge a little while ago, I started thinking about the times in my professional career when I faced opposition and criticism. There have only been a few times, but they've been kind of dramatic episodes. In general, most of my bosses and coworkers have loved me. But occasionally I have come across really hard experiences with people that have made me leave jobs or generally made my life a living hardship.

At the time it is easy to look at my side of the story and cast myself as the heroine and list all the ways in which the other party is wrong and I am justified. In hindsight I have learned that even if I feel I am in the right, I still have control over my own actions and feelings. I can decide if I will let their words and actions change my decisions or feelings for worse or for the better. I can calmly ponder their concerns and see if there is something that I need to change. Even if I did not create the situation or don't deserve their criticism  I can still have an influence on the situation and do the best I can to really examine my own actions and see if there is something that I can do to soften the situation and smooth out relations, while still acting with full integrity.

But now that I've been pondering this advice on how to be happy, during this unseasonably gloomy time, I am wondering if it is a lesson I need to apply to myself. When, instead of coming from other people, the mean-spirited criticism and lack of love comes from myself, it is much harder to dismiss and can become much more of a burden. I've been opening my eyes to the idea that I don't have to take all my negative thoughts as truth. Instead I can examine and weigh the issues and concerns that roll around my head beating me up. As Elder Christofferson suggests, I sift out anything that might be helpful to me by bringing them out into the light and examining them. Then I only have to carry the ones I choose after I have turned them from disparaging criticism into motivating commitments to be a little better at a few more things. I'm already starting to see a break in the dark clouds, a stream of light just to the west in this tired little brain of mine.

So go out, be happy. You have control over how people and experiences can change you. Every rough patch is an opportunity to become stronger somewhere, even if the instigation is undeserved or unwaranted. We can and should be agents unto ourselves, always abounding in making good out of the bad.

*Update: Since writing this we've discovered that Darling is transitioning from taking two naps a day to just one, and that her bedtime is bumping up to 7ish. Thus all the rough nights and days with her sleeping schedule. Each time that we've been willing to listen to her cues, we've found that she sleeps well and is happy, so I've started paying closer attention to her sleepy cues and we've been a lot happier. Still not all the way settled or all the way rested, but definitely happier.

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