Wednesday, January 2, 2013

My Resolution: Choose Happiness

Resolve: verb. to come to a determination; make up one's mind; determine (often followed by on  or upon  ): to resolve on a plan of action.
Resolution:  noun. 1. a resolve or determination: to make a firm resolution to do something. 2. the act of resolving or determining upon an action or course of action, method, procedure, etc. 3. the mental state or quality of being resolved or resolute; firmness of purpose.
I have shied away from making or declaring New Year's Resolutions for many years, based mostly on the understanding that most people do not keep their resolutions. Even more than that, I know myself and I don't like to disappoint myself. So, I pretty much resolved not to make promises I didn't think I could keep...or promises I was afraid I couldn't keep.

Well, this year I'm not making any resolutions out of fear. I think resolutions are good. There is a verse in the Bible that says where there is no vision, the people perish (Proverbs 29:18). I have found this to be true in my own life in the sense that when we make no plan of action or refuse to set goals, I don't get anything done. So, this year I'm setting goals.

Most of my list is summed up under one umbrella resolution:
Choose Happiness.
How do you like that? Choose Happiness. And I do mean happiness, not joy. Joy is a whole 'nuther blog post. I mean the momentary, right here and now in the moment, as well as long-lasting happiness. I will choose to do things that make me happy, now and in the future. Conversely, I will choose NOT to do things that don't make me happy. 

Honestly, this philosophy of choosing happiness began welling up inside of me a few years ago, when I was a single and dating mom. I had come to the end of a pretty unhealthy dating relationship with a man that was completely wrong for me on many levels. All I can say looking back on it is that I must have been suffering from temporary insanity! What I realized at some point was that I was choosing to remain with someone that didn't make me happy. In fact, he made me very sad. Among other things, he didn't like children. At all. Kind of a problem for someone with two kids, huh. I realized I was actually happier "alone" than with him, and at that point began setting as my purpose in my life to choose happiness and to make my own happiness in life. This is why I say, "Life is what you make of it; make honey!"

Recently, I attended a yoga class wherein the instructor said something that really completed this philosophy for me. As she instructed us on how to complete the exercise we were doing, she encouraged us, saying, "If you feel strong today and feel you have more to give, go ahead and push a little further and stretch a little more. But if you don't, just go easy. Don't do anything that will cause you to be unhappy."

Wow. That statement resonated deeply in me. How many hours have I spent on fad diets or grueling exercise that does not make me happy (or skinny for that matter)? How long have I spent in unhealthy relationships or in jobs that don't satisfy me, or putting up with clutter or things in my home that need repair, etc. that actually bring unhappiness to my life? This truly touches so many areas of my life.

So, overall my resolution is twofold:
Choose Happiness

        Don't do things that make you unhappy.
Under this umbrella I do have a list. Here's the list
  1. Get real. Cutting out as much processed food and beauty products as possible. Processed food makes me feel bad physically and emotionally. It makes my stomach hurt, causes me to feel tired and lethargic and causes me to gain weight (which makes my clothes fit poorly and makes me unhappy. Eating "real food" (check out 100 Days of Real Food for more info on this term) makes me happy. It helps me feel good inside, manage my weight and gives me energy. Preparing real food for my family makes me happy because I know I am helping them to be healthy and strong. Using natural, homemade beauty products makes me happy too. Knowing that I'm doing something good for my body by eliminating unnatural and harmful chemicals (for myself and the planet) brings me away from unhappiness and makes me happy.
  2. Keep my job. I LOVE my job. I starting working from home because doula a childbirth work was my dream, but also because I wanted to be more available for my children. Making my business successful ensures I can continue to do what I love and spend as much time with my family as possible. These are things that make me happy! But, if I am not successful and don't make money, I won't be able to keep doing it and will have to get a more traditional job. That would make me uhnappy!! So, I have a handful of goals under this one that will help me achieve that success, including completing my DONA certification, publishing my Birth Plan Manual, and revamping and adding to my line of personal care products, among other things.
  3. Be gracious. This is kind of a vague one. But includes lots of things. Mainly my parenting - not yelling at my kids and being more gracious with them and my husband about things that bug me. I've developed quite a habit of nagging and micromanaging when it comes to kids' chores and everyone cleaning up after themselves. I don't have a complete game plan for this one yet, and hopefully I'll let you know when I do. My goal is to give others grace and not expect them to be perfect. I am not perfect. AT ALL. I simply cannot expect others to be either! Yelling at my children and nagging my husband makes me feel unhappy, so it's a no go. Being nice to them makes me happy so that's a yes. Conversations with my husband about how to make household tasks run more smoothly over the past week or so have been a starting point for accomplishing this goal. Communication really is everything!
  4. Cultivate thankfulness. In the month of November, I wrote down something every day that I was thankful for in preparation for Thanskgiving. I also asked the kids each day at bedtime to tell me something they were thankful for and wrote that down. I stopped doing it after Thanksgiving and want to bring back that daily practice. It's definitely a choice that brings spiritual and emotional happiness to my life. In addition to my own recognition of blessings in my life, engaging the dialogue with my children and husband strengthens our relationships in amazing ways. What an incredible way to choose happiness!
  5. Save more. Being broke makes me unhappy. Having money makes me happy. Having money for bills and vacations and gifts and the future makes me happy. Plan of action is making sure to simply transfer a predetermined amount of money out of every paycheck and place it in savings. If that predetermined amount isn't possible, even putting as little as a penny is better than nothing. Boom. Happiness. This also includes not spending money we don't have on silly stuff. Getting real helps us do that. Eating real food means less eating out and eating more simply. Also, using natural and homemade cleaning and beauty products saves tons of money. Double Boom. 
I feel good about my resolutions. They leave room for error and imperfection. They're goals to shoot for. I'm not going to hate myself if I eat an oreo because I know that my goal is to incorporate more unprocessed food and eat less processed food. I'm not going to beat myself up if I lose my temper with my family because I'll be choosing to be gracious with myself as well. Instead I'll apologize and move forward in grace. And if I miss a day of being explicitly thankful, it doesn't reduce my level of thankfulness at all.

Choose Happiness. It's a no fail resolution if you ask me!

Love and Honey,

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