I just came back from the doctor. Let’s have a moment of silence because I have begun menopause. (Insert silence…sigh…more silence) I live with 2 teenage daughters that on any given day can have as many as 50 personalities BEFORE we get to school. (Another moment of silence…and glass of wine) A husband that could be on the show, “House” with his mystery illness. (Pour another glass) A senior citizen dog that has dementia, and a young dog that has pride issues and gives me looks that say, “Go ahead…make my day.” (The older dog actually drinks wine because of this.) Sound familiar? Does it sound like your house? Maybe a little different context, but you get the gist. This is life. Life is hard. Life is funny. Life is unfair. Life has left me asking myself, “But, what about the happily ever…?” Nope.
I do not strive for happy. I do strive for contentment. There is a huge difference. I strive to be content in all situations in life and it has not only changed my perception of life, it has changed me. I am teaching my daughters to do the same.
1. Stop Comparing
This is a game changer. I once knew a college student that had worked so hard in the off season to compete in the hurdles. She worked out in all kind of weather. She had a goal and she was not going to let ANYTHING stop her. She was amazing and ready. During the race, she had to keep focused, but she didn’t. She looked to the side. She looked at her opponent and when she did, she fell. She lost the race. Comparison robs you of contentment.
2. Enjoy the Process…
I recently asked our girls, “Do you spend more time practicing or playing games? Do you spend more time preparing for a show or actually performing the show?” Their response was the same. “We spend more time preparing.” My reply was, “If we spend most of the time in the process, why do we not enjoy it more?” We have to be intentional in enjoying the process. It is messy, full of failure, and hard. It is filled with temporary feelings that pass. And if we are not careful, we will only be longing for the future and not enjoying the now. If we can enjoy that, hard life moments will be easier to embrace.
3. The best memories are when things go wrong….
I love to hear the girls tell stories. They never say, “Remember that one time, when everything was perfect and we just laughed and had fun.” I know there have been times like that, but if you get them telling stories, it is usually funny stories when things went terribly wrong. “Remember the 14 foot tree that you HAD to have for Christmas and it fell on dad twice…and he made you hold it while he went to Lowe’s?” Those moments are when we grow…learn to laugh and let go of what it is supposed to be in your head. It will never measure up.
I hear parents say, “I just want my kids to be happy.” Nope. I am not the happy wagon. I want my kids to learn to be content in all situations. I want my kids to feel the feelings and own them. Angry? Yep. Disappointed? Yep. Feeling inferior? Yep. Gritchy (that is a word co-workers and I made up. It is between grumpy and b*&(#y) It Happens. Feelings come and go, how we choose to respond to them and the situations in our lives shows our true character. Contentment is learned and we need to teach it.