Everybody wants to be happy. I think that it’s safe to assume, at least. We want to be happy with our lives, with our relationships and with our purposes. I mean, we all have our happy moments. Our days in the sunshine. But we want more. We desire a kind of happiness that describes us…a sustainable happiness.
A few years back, as I started to think about this, I started to realize that even though I had lots of moments when I was feeling happy, I also could be brought down by the littlest circumstance going “wrong”. Sometimes the little things weren’t so little, and if that was the case I was a wreck!! My reactions to much of my life were not that graceful, if I was being honest with myself. As a whole, that didn’t leave me a very happy person.
So, being the “fixer” that I am, I decided to sit down and organize my thoughts about my life and see what I could do about this to start to become the person that I believe I am supposed to be. To be the Bethany that I was born to be, and not the one that life circumstances appeased or disappointed.
After a lot of thinking and journaling the last couple of years, I have come to the realization that sustainable happiness is a choice. Yup. I said it. Happiness is a choice. And I’m not talking about choosing to have a smile on your face all the time, or faking being bouncy and annoyingly cheerful all the time, even when you feel like crap. I mean, let’s face it: I can’t be happy if I am not genuine. So what exactly is the choice then? What exactly do I choose to choose happiness?
The beginning of it was choosing to put my priorities in order and keep them there so that my life doesn’t start running away with me. Life isn’t predictable. Not everything that happens fits on my list of priorities, and that’s okay. It is my own job and responsibility to give who and what is important to me more space in my life. Circumstances aren’t always pleasant, but I don’t want to dwell on the unpleasantness, let alone let it rule my priorities!
Here is what I hashed out.
My top priorities are my relationship with Jesus and my relationship with my husband. After that comes taking care of my family, friends, work, and myself – all of those being equally important.
1. The first and most important step I took was asking God to give me a heart for what He has a heart for. And I chose to make myself available to it. To them. Because His heart is for people. For us to love each other and have grace toward each other.
2. I have made it a choice that my husband and our relationship stays right up at the top when it comes to my list of priorities. He loves to love on people, too, so it works out just fine. 🙂 Every now and then, though, we have to make the choice to cancel something with other people to give each other the best of ourselves. We made a vow to give each other our best and we try to. It’s worth it because without that, neither of us is fully happy.
3. Giving family and friends priority means if someone I care about (which comes by choosing to value the people I encounter) wants to talk or needs someone to pick them up from the airport or needs me bring them a meal or just wants spend time, I choose to have a relationship with them rather than watch another Netflix show by myself. (Unless I am just over extended and need some solo quiet time, which definitely happens sometimes, being an introvert and all.) It makes me happy to have a community, and even to sacrifice my time for others.
4. My job is important, but only because over the years I have found out which types of work give me the most opportunity to do what I feel I do best with amazing people. It’s what I love to do. So even on the not-so-great days, it’s actually still something I love to do with people I care about and I am genuinely happy.
5. My care for myself defines how I present myself in my relationships. To respect others and see them as beautiful, I am learning to see myself as beautiful. That was part of the discussion in my head when I started to realize I needed to lose a “diet” mentality. Loving food and cooking in a mindful way, while still keeping my vessel in good health has been extremely important. When I started to be content with receiving the beauty in the food around me instead of seeing it as my enemy, I started to see everything else differently, too. And everyone else. Because it’s not a competition anymore. What a relief…and it gives me so much freedom!
So there you have it.
These are my thoughts and aspirations toward sustainable happiness. I am sure you know that just because I wrote this does not mean I have even really figured it out yet. I am growing in my spirituality and my happiness all the time – constantly seeking balance. But I can truly say that I am consistently and sustainably happier than I have ever been. And I owe it to the One who has a heart for me, and made me His priority. 🙂
Please feel free to share your thoughts! I am always eager to hear about what others are learning, too! 🙂