Do you ever have those moments, talking to someone, whether at the grocery store or waiting in line somewhere and strike up a conversation that can totally shift your day? Well, today I had such a conversation. I was with my teenage daughters, a friend, and her daughter, selling beautiful flowers a Girl Scout fundraiser for a service award they are earning.
Here we were, in a parking lot with blooming potted plants, flowers, and hanging baskets, in hues of pink, fuchsia, purples and oranges trying to sell the flowers. I asked an older woman nearby if she’d like to purchase some flowers, and she politely declined but would let her children, now grown, know about the plant sale.
I thanked her, and she said to me, “You know for Mother’s Day don’t we all just want our children, no matter what age they are, to be happy?”
“Yes, I completely agree, healthy and happy children are a gift.”
She agreed and said, “You know as moms, we can’t put our happiness on our children. I’ve learned, I have to find and create my happiness Children grow up, you have to find what makes you happy.”
I responded, “I love your perspective. You just gave me a gem of wisdom today, thank you!”
We waved and off she went.
Her words stayed with me, and her wisdom inspired me to ask this question:
How do we create and find happiness in motherhood?
Perhaps the first place to start in answering this question is to understand what gets in the way and blocks our happiness.
Here are a few things that I believe get in the way of happiness:
- Believing happiness is something that happens automatically
- Unmanaged stress
- Thinking too much
- Life events related to loss, illness, change and loneliness.
- Not knowing what brings you happiness
- Multitasking and not being in the moment
As a mother to four girls, my daughters bring happiness to my life in ways I could never have imagined or anticipated. And, I also know, the wisdom of the woman at the plant sale, was incredibly true.
Mothers have to create personal happiness separate from her children.
I think that’s the challenge when you’re in the midst of raising a family, it’s hard to ever imagine the pace of motherhood being something different than it is today. Which is why I do believe in working to create happiness in motherhood, separate from children, even in small amounts.
Here are some suggestions on how to cultivate happiness as a mom:
- Reflect on What Brings You Happiness. What makes you happy? What brings you joy? Spend a few minutes thinking about each and either make a mental list of such activities or write down several ways you experience or would like to experience joy and happiness in your everyday life.
- Create moments of Joy. One obstacle to experiencing happiness is thinking that it just happens passively. Create moments of happiness by scheduling it in your day. If happiness to you would be a vacation, try to scale back to an achievable moment you can incorporate into your daily routine. For example, look through photos of the vacation you enjoyed, listen to music that lifts your energy, or spend time in an activity you’ve been meaning to do but haven’t set aside the time. We often put ourselves last on the to do list of the day. Schedule small amounts of time, even fifteen minutes a day, and engage in activities that create happiness.
- Look for Happiness in Small Moments. There are big events in life when we experience joy; the birth of a child, an achievement of a hard-earned goal, a relaxing vacation or trip. Becoming aware of smaller moments of happiness can significantly increase one’s sense of happiness and contentment. Perhaps a moment of joy is watching your children play or going for a walk and noticing nature around you or simply sitting in quiet enjoying a cup of tea. However you define happiness, slow down and look for the small examples of happiness in your life.
- Create Happiness for Someone Else. Giving to others and those we care about often brings about joy and a sense of happiness. When we care for other people we feel good about bringing something positive to someone else’s life.
- Experience Life. Many of us get caught up in being so productive, we leave little time to enjoy and experience life. Slow down, take a deep breath and allow yourself to be in the moment without being overly productive. Instead of using your smart phone when ever there is down time or filling every waking moment with productivity, allow yourself to connect to the important people in your life. Allow yourself to eat slowly and enjoy a meal or savor a piece of chocolate or embrace in a hug with a loved one more than a moment. Instead of rushing on to the next moment or thing to do, take in the moment in front of you.
- Learn From Your Children. Have you ever noticed how children are fantastic about being in the moment? Watch your children and follow their lead. Observe how they can be in the moment enjoying only what is in front of them. Children have an innate ability to be in the moment and experience joy, wonder and awe, in ways that are challenging to do as we grow older.
- Keep Track of Your Happiness. Whether you journal, write it in the notes section of your smart phone, take a photo or simply allow the moment to sink in for later recall, find a way to hold onto the joyful moments. Over time, small positive moments add up and can change the way you perceive happiness.
- Limit Multitasking. A sure way to reduce happiness is through the distractions of multitasking. When we are engaged in another activity, it is hard to be present and attuned to other events unfolding around us. By limiting multitasking, we can create opportunities to allow our senses to take in fully moments of joy and happiness.
Be sure to take some time and reflect on how you create happiness in your life. If you have ideas or suggestions for us moms, please share in the comment section!
© Copyright Dr. Claire Nicogossian 2017