I am lucky enough to know quite a few people who have not just sat back and let life happen to them, but who have taken steps to make their lives what they want them to be. One of these people is Jessica, my sister’s best friend from college, who I have come to know and love, as well. Jessica is a chemist and a single mom by choice. She is a pretty amazing new mom who actually makes her own baby food AND works full time. (Did you know that’s actually possible?!?) Anyway, I think she’s pretty inspiring. Here are her answers to 3 of my happiness questions:
1. How do you cheer yourself up when you're feeling blue?
I do my best to remember that other people have “it” worse (whatever that may be). I had a group of friends that was VERY cynical and discovered that it really affected my day to day outlook and I stopped hanging around with them as much. Being positive and seeing the bright side is a conscious choice that keeps me from getting bogged down in self pity. Even music choices affect things. If I listen to hard tales about broken hearts, etc. it’s easy to start feeling like that’s my life. If I choose upbeat or fun or even well-done pensive songs, I feel better.
2. What have been the happiest experiences of your life so far?
I had a blast in grad school going out and partying with friends, but that wasn’t meant to carry over into “real” life. My son, for sure – dancing, playing on the floor, feeling him move while I was pregnant, you name it. Robby gave me a higher purpose in life. Reconnecting with distant friends and relatives through email/facebook/letters, whatever.
3. What is something small that you do regularly that makes you happier?
Take my time in the shower really letting the water run over my head (this is pretty therapeutic too – been known to sob in the shower when I needed to). Cook interesting, healthy meals for myself or others. Sing LOUDLY in the car. Focus on something I can control and try not to worry about the rest.
See, I told you she's inspiring!
OK, I know there’s a ton of research out there documenting how marriage satisfaction and overall satisfaction in life drop when you have children, but, seriously, those studies must be flawed! I totally agree with Jessica that having a child gives me a sense of a higher purpose in life, which just MUST be related to happiness. Maybe “satisfaction” is different than happiness? Just an idea.
Also, after I interviewed Jessica, I really paid attention to the way music affected my happiness level for a few days. It really did make me happier to listen to upbeat artists! And it was nice to give myself an extra reason to listen to cheesy songs on my way in between clients’ houses. (I normally listen to Spanish learning CDs in the car, but I’m taking a little break over the holidays. Sometimes it makes me happy to take a break from things that make me happy, like learning another language!)
What songs or artists make you happiest?