Last week was a very happy week. For what feels like the first time in a long time (I'm thinking 2 years), I had 2 happy children, happy on the same day, at the same time, the same minutes, they were pee-your-pants-laughing-happy, day after day.
"We are only as happy as our unhappiest child"
is a phrase that has run over and over in my head for the past 2 years. They are so good at tagging in and out of happiness. It's as if there is an unspoken agreement between them that both can't be peaking in joy simultaneously. Ok maybe I'm exaggerating, of course they have been happy on weekends and in the summer holidays, but during the daily course of life (school), until they started at Lemania International School, it was a day to day struggle for them to see any positives in their wee existence.
I am, naturally, a very happy person. I love a challenge, and can usually see positivity in a tricky situation. But when you become a parent you are no longer in control of many areas of your life, including your emotions. Every cell in your body is programmed to be in line with theirs. Well at least that's how mine operates. And this is life, isn't it.
I said to my daughter last week, the reason we have these very challenging periods in our life is so we can be happy with mediocrity. We can be happy with what is not in our life. We can be happy that we wake up without a headache, nausea or stomach pain. We can be happy our legs aren't aching so much we can't sleep. Then we can be happy with what we do have. We can be happy that we have the energy to walk in fresh air to school. We can be happy we have teachers who encourage us to think differently and ask questions. We can be happy we have peers who find it easier to speak kindly than cruelly.
Feeling gratitude is, like mindfulness, everywhere you turn these days. And rightly so. When we feel gratitude, actually take the time to visualise something we are very grateful for, we lower our heart rate, our blood pressure, decrease cortisol production, increase serotonin, feel present, and, as it says on the tin, feel grateful. The more we practice it the less we live in a state of 'I'll be happy when....." Instead we can be happy all the time because we are eternally grateful for small things. We eliminate fear and unhappiness during those moments of appreciation. It’s impossible to feel fear and gratitude at the same time.
So, without any further ado, I gift you an additional tool to feeling happiness when it is illusive. Music. Here is 'Sian's Happy playlist". I put this on when I am walking to collect the kids from school, walking to work, vacuuming, cleaning the loo, sometimes I bust it out in the middle of a vinyasa flow class.
I don't expect you to love it as much as I do, because these are songs that trigger endorphins in me. I associate them with people, occasions, places, smells, happiness. Make your own happy playlist, fill it with cheese, it doesn't have to be 'cool' it just has to make your soul sing.
In the immortal words of Mahatma Gandhi
“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”