Monday, August 15, 2011

A Happy Birthday

Yesterday was an interesting day as far as birthdays go.  Getting the kids ready for church by myself like always. 3 hours at church.  Coming home by myself with the kids while Nathan handled tithing.  Less than a 10 minute Sunday nap.  Then back up to church for a baptism.  Then back home to be by myself with the kids while Nathan went to a meeting.  Not exactly what I would call the most celebratory of birthdays.

So feeling a little pessimistic (which that and being critical of myself and others being my two most glaringly large character flaws)  I decided I needed to kick myself in the butt and start playing Pollyanna’s glad game.  There is always something to be glad about in every situation.  Like – I’m GLAD that I have three super healthy children to take with me to church each Sunday, I’m GLAD that for the first time in many years, I got to listen to the Sunday School and Relief Society lesson, I’m GLAD that Nathan is faithful and diligent in his calling, I’m GLAD that I got to see Jamie get baptized and very GLAD that I got to hold a cute little baby while there, I’m GLAD that Nathan’s meeting was surprisingly short, I’m GLAD that my kids went to bed on time last night without too much struggle.  And GLAD that I know how to quickly whip up a yummy chocolate lava cake to eat with my husband after the kids went to bed.

As I said being naturally a little on the pessimistic side and often feeling critical of myself (and admittedly sometimes others), it is easy to find myself not always feeling all that happy.  As a result, I’ve spent many an hour, while mindlessly doing other things, thinking about the secret to happiness.  I’ve come to the conclusion that for me (and I’m sure this could be a little different for others), the secret lies in two things.

1.  Happiness, like the constitution gives us a right to do, must be actively pursued.  It must be a conscious choice to purposefully seek happiness.

2.  That pursuit of happiness is most clearly road mapped by the 13th Article of Faith.

Let me explain.  The road map starts by stating that “We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men”.  Honesty is an easy one to see how it helps you to be happy.  Because well, everyone knows, because everyone’s done it before, that when you tell a lie, even a little white lie, it leaves a feeling of guilt, which is certainly NOT a happy feeling.  And when you get caught in a lie – so so so much unhappiness ensues. Not being true (or loyal) and chaste has similar feelings associated with them, only more so.   But when you are honest, true, and chaste, you feel good about yourself and happy with your choices.  Benevolence, virtuousness,  and doing good to all men is another easy concept to see how it leads to happiness.  Always, always, always, no matter how grudgingly you start out doing it, when you serve others and are kind, you WILL feel happier.  Service and kindness to others is something that I also think is the secret to having a high self-esteem.  Not all this garbage about telling yourself how special and wonderful and extraordinary you are.  I honestly (see how nice it is to be honest) think that the if you want to improve your own or your child’s or whoever’s self esteem – DO SERVICE WORK!

The next section of the 13th article of faith discusses hope and endurance of life’s trials.  And what is hope if not the seed of happiness.  Hope of our Heavenly Father’s promises is sometimes the only thing that makes life’s trials endurable.

And the last section of the 13th article of faith encourages the active pursuit of all things lovely, virtuous, of good report or praiseworthy.  Haven’t you found by experience that when you surround yourself with things that are lovely – whether it is music, art, nature, people, or other things – that it brings feelings of joy?  When you hear or see things that are praiseworthy, that your heart and mind are expanded in some way?  It seems so to me.

And so today, like almost every other day, I’m going to pursue my happiness.


Laurel Shaw said...

Yes, now that we are "older" and we are responsible for many things, birthdays are just another day in the life of a mother! I told everyone my birthday was just business as usual! and it was for the most part. Before the actual day i was setting my mind up to just go with it and as long as i was with my family it would be a HAPPY DAY!! It was an extremly busy for us but with unexpected surprises through out the day!
I don't know how you do all the things all do. You're always doing things for others and things that worthwhile! You ARE too hard on yourself!! i think you are amazing and if i could do half the stuff that you do i'd think i was amazing too!
Cut yourself some slack girl!!
and HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!!!!!!!

Pam said...

Yes, Laurel could not have said it any better! I think that as we get older our personal birthdays become less important, yet we can have so much fun in celebrating our children's and others. I find so much joy in seeing things through the eyes of Nicholas.

Katie said...

I have a picture hanging over our kitchen table that says 'We tend to seek happiness when happiness is actually a choice.' I love it! it reminds me everyday that I can be happy or wallow in my self-pity. Plus it has two giant cherries in the center of the picture and who doesn't think of happy things when they see cherries? I'll steal Laurel's words and say You Rock!