Happiness is dependent on 1 thing: CHOICE. The only time it’s circumstance is when your health, loved ones or necessities are taken away.
My mom was an amazing woman. She grew up during the Depression with 2 younger sisters, a mother with mental health issues and her father died when she was just 4 years old. They had an unheated roof over their heads but not much more. They often went hungry and the school would feed them cream to fatten them up. They were in Winnipeg where it got 30+ degrees below 0 yet they were not allowed to complain about being cold, hungry or anything. Their mom instilled in them a sense of gratefulness for what they had.
Mom had so many funny stories about growing up but one of my favourites is when they’d visit her grandmother who hated kids and would send them out in the garden to search for peas under 5 feet of snow.
What made Mom so special is that through all her hardships, and there were many, she was always cheery and positive. Her charisma drew people to her. She wasn’t just positive, she was also very funny, social and just plain nice. Never said a mean word about anyone, that was too negative for her.
I was 14 when my Dad died. I can remember it like it was yesterday as we were at home expecting Dad would die soon. He’d been in hospital for 3 weeks in the final stages of cancer. Mom and I got the call at noon and we cried in each others arms for a few minutes then she pulled herself together and said, “Weren’t we lucky to have him for all those years?” I was like, “What??? Dad just died and you’re already searching for the positives in all this?! There aren’t any!!!”
But, that was just Mom. She couldn’t help it. Her glass was always half full.
They say we’re born with a certain nature. It could be cheerful, serious, quiet, loud. Mom was very serious and quiet growing up but she turned into a very loud, cheerful adult. She always said it was a choice. She CHOSE to be happy.
I mostly got that throughout life but it wasn’t until she died in my arms that I really got it. It almost felt like she’d passed the torch.
Happiness really IS a choice.
I was at a party the other night and some people were talking about politics or something and it was all negative. I wasn’t joining in the conversation and someone commented on it as I’m usually such a motormouth. I said I just don’t function well around negativity. A friend thought that was funny as I deal with so many crisis situations in my business. I said that’s completely different as it’s all solution based, not just dwelling on the negative.
That’s why I don’t let clients talk about their problems for more than a couple of minutes at a time. What’s the point??? I get it, I know there’s a problem, now let’s work on the solution. Let’s focus on being happy.
Happy Families are my goal with BratBusters. I want you all to be happy with yourselves, happy with your kids, your kids to be happy with you. I want everything to be positive. I see problems as opportunities to learn and grow.
Disclaimer re. youths in crisis: I do not recommend my methods to others as they are not based on formal training, just experience and intuition. Every situation is different but here is an example of how focusing on the positive can be a real asset:
I was talking to a youth in a psyche ward after a suicide attempt. I’d been working with his family but hadn’t met him previously. I introduced myself but he just turned his head to the wall. I sat there quietly flipping through some ancient magazines and talking to myself about how lame they were. After an hour or 2 he turned and looked at me. It worked, I’d gained his trust. When I left awhile later the nurse asked what was so funny as heard us laughing. I said, “He was telling me how he’d tried to kill himself and we were laughing at what a failure he was at it.” A couple of years later he was still doing okay so … fingers crossed.
I won’t bore you with all the psychological mumbo jumbo but the jest of why that worked was that I’d normalized his suicide attempt. He didn’t need to feel ashamed, he wasn’t crazy, he’d just screwed up and it almost cost him his life. Really tough to do it again when you’ve been giggling with someone about how ridiculous it was.
Mom taught me that, she could ALWAYS find the humour in a situation. She knew how to put people at ease, to make them feel good about themselves.
Mom chose to be happy and knew how to spread the happiness. What a gift. What a woman.
Do you choose to be happy? Do you teach this to your children? I’d love to hear from you.