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The Happiness Exercise

Monday is my least favorite day of the week and I’m probably not alone in thinking that.

The weekend is over; the workweek is starting with the stress and all that comes with it. If you couple that angst and dread with the kind of night I had last night (coughing, feverish, overly tired) it makes for a really sucky morning. So when I got up today after my fitful night, I looked about like I felt, which wasn’t pretty. I stumbled and grumbled through the morning, got the kids off to school and sat down in my office (aka the closet) when I got this tweet: @goodenufmother can you pls RT my blog about husbands journey with brain cancer.

It came from one of my twitter followers named MTZ, a wife, mother, warrior. Her husband Dave was diagnosed with brain cancer just a few months ago and, it goes without saying, it has turned their world upside down. Then, to add insult to injury, he lost his job. Yet, when I read her blog, there’s such a joy and peace about her and her life. Yes, her faith plays a big role but she is also choosing to deal with their struggles head-on in a take-it-as-it-comes sort of manner. Obviously she’s not thrilled all of the time, but I do get a sense of peace when I read her posts.

Then I thought about yesterday’s GEM debate. Remember we asked if you would want to know the exact date of your death? It was prompted by a man who suffers from Lymphoma that has spread and he’s now in excruciating pain. Due to Oregon’s Death with Dignity act, he is planning to take a lethal dose of medication Tuesday, putting an end to his suffering. While I was griping about being tired, what must he be feeling this Monday?

Then the tears came. Tears of joy and gratitude as I took stock of all I have. Yeah, I didn’t feel great when I woke up but guess what? My eyes did pop open. I had to reach around all the food in the refrigerator to get to the milk; no one here was going school or work hungry. My kids were able-bodied enough to throw their arms around my neck and kiss me on the cheek, if they so desired. I have a beautiful home and a husband who works hard to keep us in it.  And after a few scares of my own, I have my health. I made the decision, there and then to be happy.

Sometimes I think we see happiness as a moving target; I know it has been for me for much of my life. But I think I’m going to change happiness from a target to a decision, a space, a condition. I think it will get easier to be happy when I condition myself to approach life with a grateful heart instead of waiting for happiness to be dropped on my head. Happiness calisthenics, if you will. My exercise program starts today in earnest.

What about you, what are you happy about or grateful for? Do you agree that you can condition yourself to be happy, even when things don’t go your way? You know what to do next…

 

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