Earlier this year, someone close to me asked what makes me happy. I gave it some thought and gave her a list of things that help me stay positive and motivated. Now, I don't want you to think that I'm always a chipper person. I definitely have my days when I'm just going through the motions. When I start feeling myself fall into this rut, I know that it's time to do something about it. I mentally go through my "happy" list and think about what I'm neglecting. Is it exercising? Is it my scripture study? Is it time to go out on a date with my husband because it's been over a month? I don't have all the answers, but may be one of these ideas will help you.
1. Develop a relationship with Jesus Christ. If I'm not nourishing my spirit, my life is muted. If I'm not finding joy in life's little things, then I'm not as sensitive to the possibilities around me and I'm definitely not feeling grateful. How do I nourish my spirit?
- Reading my scriptures. I find the more I read the scriptures, the more I want to read and the more centered I feel.
- Listening to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. I have been known to clean my bathroom while listening to the choir. It makes the chore much more enjoyable and relaxing. How can you get irritated with soap scum when listening to those heavenly voices?
- Go on a walk. Nature is so soothing. I always feel closer to God when taking a stroll even if it's just in my neighborhood.
- Go to the temple! I so appreciate the peace, love and perspective I feel in the temple.
- Journaling. I'm about to sound like Oprah Winfrey, but journaling helps me feel more gratitude for life's blessings. Am I the only one who remembers her doing those gratitude journal segments? My love for my family grows as I record snippets of our life and photos. Honestly, I'm a bit crazy about taking family photos.
2. Move your body. Exercise, exercise, exercise. You just feel better after you exercise. Don't feel like you have to go to the gym or run 5 miles for it to count. Just move. Yesterday I walked to a friend's home rather than driving there. I counted that as my exercise for the day. After I exercise, I feel like I can purge all those emotions I've been fretting about.
3. Serve. My first year in Germany was rough. (My husband's job sent us to Germany for 2 1/2 years.) There were lots of highs, but it was still hard, discouraging. Many times I felt very alone. My husband traveled weekly and I was in a country with a language I didn't speak with young kiddos who needed lots of attention. My husband reminded me several times to serve and honestly at first I was reluctant. A bit annoyed. However, once I started serving and getting out of myself, I began really feeling like Germany was home. I started with volunteering lots at my kids' schools. Through my volunteer work, I met great friends. I began inviting people over to our home and people started inviting us over to theirs. I also started going out with a group of ladies somewhat regularly. It was a diverse group of women let me tell you. There were girls from France, Germany, Australia and Russia. We were like a mini U.N. I loved these outings and wouldn't have made these friends if I hadn't volunteered.
4. Don't dwell on the past. Forgive yourself and move on. When I start feeling myself getting caught up in the past and feeling sorry for myself, I try to stop and focus on the now and future. I have the power to change things in my life - to make things better. Who cares about the past! This isn't 1993 any more or last week or even yesterday. Drop the mommy guilt and move on.
5. Ask for help. It's OK to ask for help. Here's a wonderful talk by Elder Dallin H. Oaks about prioritizing. Sometimes we have to give up something really good because we can't do it all and if we try, we'll run ourselves into the ground.
6. Use or Develop Talents. Read. Learn something new. I've always wanted to learn how to sing. So, I joined my ward choir. It is such a little thing, but I view it as a free music lesson. Our chorister has studied music and I'm learning so much. I also took piano lessons for a couple of years. It was fun having a lesson just for me. Now, I'm trying to pick up some art history. I've been reading the same art history book for the past year or more. It's slow going, but I'm picking up some new knowledge.
7. Stop thinking too much about yourself. When we get too self-absorbed, our pity parties only inhibit our personal growth. Yes, you should feel the full range of emotions. But, once your emotional mourning is over, it is time to move on.
8. Nurture your relationships. Invite friends out to lunch. Go for a walk with your husband. Take your kids out for ice cream. Invite a family over for dinner on Sunday. Enjoy a date night.
9. Guilty Pleasures. Sometimes you just need a little guilty pleasure to help give you that boost to move on. Mine include: watching a sappy romance movie on the Hallmark Channel, chocolate, buying a new shade of lip gloss or finger nail polish, going out to lunch.
10. Travel. I'm not a home body. In fact, I get stir crazy if I'm home for too long. I have to get out here and there or I notice my mood starts to go south. Traveling doesn't have to be a big, money breaking thing. It can just be a day trip around your home town. Visit that museum you've always wanted to see. I think this is one of the reasons my family hikes so much. We have to get out!
Finally, seek professional help. I absolutely believe that in some cases you should see a professional.
Well, there it is! I'm definitely not perfect with them, but they do help and are good reminders.