“Happiness is a choice!” says every mother to her cranky child, but what about when we are the ones having the hard day? All of the sudden, happiness doesn’t feel like something we can choose.
So what can we do instead of throw ourselves a pity party when a "Charlie Brown"-esque fog hangs overhead? How can we choose to be happy?
Here are some ideas to help spark your mind to seek a clearer view of hope.
Unplug: Spending time scrolling through social media can make us feel unworthy in our own lives. Though social media at times can help us feel connected to others, many times it makes us feel even more isolated or alone. We start comparing our failures with other people's success. We see only the good they are posting and we assume we are the only ones struggling with something. Turning off electronics can bring us back to the moment we are in and help us see the good that is all around us, giving us a chance to realize that we can choose to see our blessings and not just our burdens.
Serve: Service helps us step outside of ourselves. It helps us focus on someone else’s need. It gives us a chance to forget about our problems and help someone else with theirs.
Play: Play a game. Get on the floor and play Legos with a little one. Laugh at yourself. Laugh at the crumbs all over the floor. Laugh at the mascara all over your eyelid. Find a reason to act like a little kid. Belly laugh.
Dance: For me, nothing breaks a bad mood faster than a dance party. Sometimes, even alone in my car, I turn on some good tunes and jam out. It is hard to think about stress and work when my favorite song is singing to my heart and I am lost in the melody.
Sing: Those same songs that lift your spirit in a dance party work great to sing along to. Some music speaks the words we simply cannot. Relating to a song and letting its beat pound out your frustrations is cathartic.
Answer a prayer: Sometimes the best way to answer our own plea to escape our struggles is to find someone else who is struggling and be an answer to their prayers. Look for someone in need — someone who is hurting. Pray to know how to ease their burden.
Will these ideas work every time? Probably not. But who wants to be the Grinch of their own life all the time? Not me. There have been months — years — when gloom has tried to be my constant companion. What if there is more to life than just getting through? What if there are moments that we are missing because we are stuck feeling sorry for ourselves? What if we wake up one day and realize that the life we are waiting for has already passed us by?
To live a life with little regret, we have to live it to the fullest. We have to take the lies that are trying to pose as our truths and tell them to take a hike. Replace the downers with positive thoughts; override the false beliefs that are racked with fear and fill them with the truths that can make us smile.
You are enough and more — and you deserve to smile, even when it is hard.
We don’t have to wait for happiness. It is not a future destination — it’s been right there all along.
Some days, we might have to fake it. We might have to pretend to smile through the dance party. We might have to cry through the song. But eventually, the sun will start to shine and the fog will begin to clear.
Create the little moments until you can see them on their own. Life is different when the sun is shining. Use your light to make it glow.
Ashlee Birk is the author of "The Moments We Stand" blog and book series of her healing journey after the infidelity and murder of her husband. She is the founder of "A Reason to Stand" healing conferences. Website: www.themomentswestand.com