Finding happiness in the darkest of times

Life isn’t always easy. Nor does it always seem fair. So when we feel we have hit rock bottom with nowhere else to turn, how can we pick ourselves up and find the strength to carry on, never mind being happy?

Life has thrown some serious curve balls my way in the past month. The loss of my Granddad, the loss of our second baby in 6 months and medical complications after the birth leaving me bed bound and in debilitating pain, physically and emotionally. That’s not including little factors such as not being able to work or earn money, our mortgage doubling, our car breaking down and other less significant, but important factors which could seriously tip someone already struggling, over the proverbial edge.

I have felt close to giving up and throwing the towel in a few times. I have wondered “why me?” and entertained the idea of a little ‘pity party’ for myself. But these feelings never last long, or should I say, I don’t allow them to last long. Because wallowing in feelings of despair, lost hope and worthlessness only make me feel worse. They benefit no one: my family, my friends, my children, and most importantly – me.

But it doesn’t come easy. Oh no. It takes discipline and constant evaluation. It can take time. But in the end it is so worth it, for your physical, mental and emotional sanity – and for those loved ones around you.

I have developed a list of ways I think anyone in any situation can “Learn to be happy”.

1)  CHOOSE TO BE HAPPY– like the old saying goes, that you can’t help someone who doesn’t want to be helped. Well,  you can’t become happy unless you want to be happy. And who doesn’t want to be happy? I understand that when grieving for someone or something, like I am grieving the loss of my baby(s) and my Granddad, feelings of guilt can arise at the thought of being happy. How can you be happy when something you loved so dearly has been taken from you, or is gone? Surely being happy is being disrespectful to their passing or their memory? It is only natural and human to feel sadness or emptiness, and it would be unhealthy to harbour or bottle up those emotions, but it is also unhealthy to dwell on these feelings or let them consume you. You can instead choose to turn these feelings of despair, into hope, and look for the positive opportunities that present themselves (which I think is a much more respectful way of honouring those no longer with us.) You are responsible for how you feel and you are responsible for your choices. Choose happiness today.

2) BE DISCIPLINED – Understand that like any lesson or newly learnt skill, it takes time and determination for you to become fluent in it. If you’re lucky, you may have an epiphany and happiness will just flick on, like a switch, overnight. However, if you are like most of us, you will need to consistently revise and refresh these skills, and implement them daily into your routines and lives.

3) TAKE EACH DAY AT A TIME – Some days will be easier / harder than others. That’s just life. There is no point dwelling on yesterday or worrying about today. Now is all that matters and is the only thing you can influence at this moment in time. Live in the moment. Live for now.

4) BE GENTLE ON YOURSELF – if you burst into tears, feel sorry for yourself, want to tear your hair out or feel like giving up – that’s ok! You are human and acknowledging, addressing and accepting your emotions is necessary in order to grow, or move on and to be happy. Don’t allow yourself to feel as if you have failed. You have not! Stop beating yourself up and realise that every experience, every setback, every opportunity, every success and all of the emotions that come with it are shaping you into the masterpiece you are, will become and deserve to be. Remove yourself as much as possible from those who drain you emotionally or have a negative impact on you. Instead surround yourselves by those who love and appreciate who you are. Take time out for you and please… be gentle on yourself.

5) ASK FOR HELP – I struggle with this one. However, I have had to swallow my pride and ask for help in recent weeks: with childcare, with help around the home, with managing simple necessary tasks, with physical and emotional healing, and with finding the courage to keep going. Someone very special said to me that “To ask for help is a sign of strength” and this resonated within me. It was a very powerful and pivotal statement for me, and one I’m happy to share with you. Whether the help be physical, psychological or even medical – Dont suffer in silence. If you are struggling and need help, ask for it. You will be astounded and reassured by the response, I guarantee you.

6) PRAISE YOURSELF – Look at all you have achieved: today, this past week, the last year and in your lifetime. To be where you are today is down to a chain reaction of amazing achievements that YOU have created and are responsible for. Sure there will be mistakes along the way, or things you’re not proud of or perhaps even regret. But these things or curveballs, are life’s little opportunities to learn and do better in the future. To become that Masterpiece. And besides, if you sit down and write a list of all the wonderful successes you have experienced in your life, it will completely overshadow the not so great, I have no doubt. Celebrate your achievements. High five yourself on your victories. And give yourself praise for being the miraculous person that you are.

7) SEE YOURSELF THROUGH THE EYES OF OTHERS – Someone once told me they wished I could see myself through their eyes, as there is no way I’d not be able to love myself. I didn’t see it at the time, and I still have trouble with it now. It is often not so easy to accept praise or compliments, especially if you lack self confidence as I admit, I do. But for once, allow yourself to bathe in the reassurance of others love and adoration for you. Whether it be your children telling you they love you, or a work colleague praising you or a friend thanking you for listening and being such a good friend. Permit yourself a front row view through the eyes of those around you, and see just how fabulous you really are. It really is exhilarating.

8) SMILE – Smiling is such a powerful tool for invoking those warm fuzzy feelings we associate with being happy. The simple act of smiling can ignite a feeling of joy deep within us which can kick start our journey into happiness. Smiling is also contagious so surround yourself with smiley positive people and know that each smile you allow, encourages others to rejoice and feel happy too. Remember you are never fully dressed without a smile 🙂

9) FIND THE POSITIVES IN EVERY SITUATION – The Biggy. The deal breaker. Finding the silver lining to that grey miserable and relentless cloud. It is there – if you only open your eyes and allow yourself to find it. And in doing so, it will set you free.

I hear you ask, how can I find a positive in every situation? In my water boiler breaking? In starvation and poverty? In my husband cheating on me? In losing someone we love?

I can’t tell you how you will find the positives as everyone’s situations are different. I can only tell you how I find the positives for me.

If something breaks down in my house – I am grateful that I have a bed, food and a roof over my head and appliances that have the chance to break. When short of money, I look around at everything in my life that money can not buy (health, love, life), and am reminded of the non monetary wealth I have. I realise that I am probably one of a minority that are fortunate to have these luxuries, and appreciate the breaking down or inconvenience to my complacency to remind me of how lucky I am in comparison to others. With no heating I am forced to find other means of warming up, like snuggling up and being close to my loved ones perhaps, which is life’s ultimate luxury.

If someone hurts or betrays me, I am grateful for being shown their true colours and for the opportunity to remind myself of my own values and my own worth, and that they are quite possibly, not worthy of my time or friendship. Their behaviours are a reinforcement of how not to treat others and their moving on from our lives, makes way for new, more loyal and more worthy people in our lives. Their actions towards us are not a reflection of who we are, yet an opportunity to surround ourselves with those who appreciate and love us unconditionally. Cutting ties with this person may free you to do things or be things you never thought you could be, or never allowed yourself to. Their betrayal could potentially be the kindest thing they could have done for you…

If someone we love dies, or in my case, my Granddad dying and my precious baby being born sleeping, I can choose to forever live in sadness and anger and bitterness. Or I can remember how much my Granddad made me laugh and the naughty songs he taught me. I can remember how he taught me how to grow beans in the garden, and pass this knowledge onto my son’s so we can do the same in ours. I can watch the timeless videos of him on YouTube fighting to save his beloved prefab, and take strength from his determination and admirable stubbornness, right until the end. And I can think fondly of him every time I see one of his restored war time radios sat upon my mantelpiece.

And as for my Arran, well, I have said it time and time again, but I am forever grateful for the gift of pregnancy which so many women do not have, and albeit for only a short while, I will cherish how special and honoured I felt to be growing and nurturing such a miraculous being. I am also grateful for modern technology which identified our babies condition early on, so we were able to prevent Arran from further harm or suffering and give him a dignified birth. I’m grateful for the time we had with Arran and for the pure never-ending love I feel for him. Im also grateful for all the complications and physical / emotional suffering I have endured, because it will make me stronger and through my experiences I can document and share that with the World in the hope it will help and give courage to others who have to face the same nightmare as us. I may never hold him in my arms again but I will forever hold him in my heart which is a priceless gift I can only give thanks for.

The list goes on and on…

In discovering the positives, we can only acknowledge that things could always be soooooo much worse.

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So are you ready to get happy? Are you dedicated to chasing your blues away? Well start now by grabbing a pen and paper. List all of your achievements to date (you will need a lot of paper for this), ask friends to write down what they love most about you and read these every time you need a self confidence boost – and write down whatever situations you are faced with now and really ask yourself – what positives or opportunities can be drawn from this? You may find yourself surprised.

There really is a positive in everything, if you only give yourself permission to look for it and if you only choose to be happy.

Big thanks to my dear friend Mrs P, for reminding me of point number 8 – and for igniting my smile for so many years. Love you long time xxx

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