I have been waiting for “something” to happen in order for me to start writing. Since creating this domain address, I have been holding myself back and I haven’t committed to writing, even though that was the reason for starting this in the first place!! But today, 24 days after creation, I am putting off the inevitable because today is the day that I write my first blog post on LauraJayLive.com. Enjoy!
Happiness Is a Choice:
My understanding of happiness being a choice comes from my amazing parents and how they raised my five siblings and myself. My upbringing and childhood was that of choosing happiness, though I didn’t know it at the time. I was not spoiled, I did not get a weekly allowance, and I was told “no” countless times; however, my parents made a choice to be happy and they made sure that my siblings and I were happy as often as possible.
The concept of making happiness a choice came about in a thrift shop one day. I had just graduated from high school and I was definitely lost; I didn’t know what I wanted to do in the future, if I was going to go to college or not, if I would move away from home, and so on. My mom and I were shopping and I saw a simple silver band in a heap of jewelry. I picked it up and stamped on the top said, “HAPPINESS IS A CHOICE.” I spent a dollar on it and we went on our way.
After two years of wearing the bracelet and contemplating its’ simple phrase, my bracelet broke. Split right into two. That was when I discovered that I no longer needed the constant reminder; I finally understood what the phrase meant. My happiness is based on my choosing.
As I said, my understanding came from my parents: I had a great childhood; however, I disliked when my dad would…
(1) tell me to do something I didn’t want to do,
(2) try to make me laugh when I was upset, and
(3) embarrass me in front of my friends.
The worst part was when he would say, “It builds character.”
We would go out into the woods to load firewood into the bed of the pick-up truck and I would be grumbling the entire time. My dad would say, “It builds character.”
I would be upset after school or mad that I couldn’t hang out with some friends and my dad would do something goofy to try and make me laugh. I would get more upset and storm off. He would say, “It builds character.”
Then when I could hang out with friends, dad would drop me off and would do something comical to make my friends laugh. I was always mortified and would hide my face. He would say, “It builds character.”
I despised when he would say this, not only because he said it all the time, but because I didn’t fully understood what he meant by it. When my dad had me do outdoor chores, he was building up my character of discipline and responsibility. When he tried to make me laugh he was teaching me that it’s okay to be goofy and that the little things people get upset about really aren’t that important. Finally, when he would embarrass me, he was teaching me how to laugh at myself and inadvertently he was helping me to choose to be happy with who I was. Those are just a few ways that my dad helped me build my character into the person I am today, all with making the conscience decision to be happy with myself.
My mom, on the other hand, never embarrassed me like my dad did. Instead she taught me how to avoid making excuses and how to stay motivated, though I don’t think she meant to by doing these things. The two phrases I remember my mother saying more than anything else were, “Go drink some water” and “You can do the dishes.” Odd assortment of phrases if you ask me.
When I was young, any time that…
(1) I felt a headache coming on,
(2) if I had a sunburn,
(3) if I was hungry before dinner, or
(4) if any other ailment struck me…
…my mom’s famous phrase was, “Go drink some water.” Without a doubt, I was a hydrated child.
My mom swore that water would help any sickness. No matter how you were feeling, if you drank water, you would feel better. This taught me not to make excuses. Having excuses was not an option because of those four words. I realized that I could choose to suffer, make excuses, and carry-on over little things, or I could come up with a quick solution to make myself feel better and happy.
Then there was the “You can do the dishes” phrase that I dreaded to hear. Whenever I was bored and I spoke up about it, my mom would put me to work: “Mom, I’m bored…” “You can do the dishes.” She always said it like it was an invitation or a “fun” alternative to sitting around and for a while I would go and do the dishes. After a while I learned to never say I was bored around my mother.
I found motivation to look for something to do. If I felt the urge to say that I was bored, I motivated myself to come up with something to do just so then I could avoid doing the dishes. This has stuck with me for so long that now when I am bored, I sometimes actually do the dishes; after all, that’s what my mom would’ve made me do. Plus, I kind of have to now. My mother made me choose motivation over excuses, which made me that much happier with my daily routine.
Such simple phrases can make a huge impact on a kid and my parents were superstars at it. I heard “it builds character” and “go drinks some water” more than anything else while I was growing up. The best part is that they probably didn’t even intend for these phrases to become a staple from my childhood, nor did they intend to teach such valuable lessons with them.
I learned that without making the physical and emotional choice to be happy, you will not achieve happiness. It really is a simple concept, but I don’t think many people really get it. Many people complain about their lives without thinking of better alternatives that they could find. The stress of a job or financial strain can hurt people emotionally, but when they start feeling defeated by the stress, that’s when they have to realize that they still can be happy. You can get out of a stressful job and if you are tight on money, you can always get a temporary second job; you just have to understand that those hard times will pass, eventually.
Living at home I could not wait to move out and live on my own. That was my stress at the time: my family. Then, once I moved out, my stress was the absence of my family. You have to know what to be happy for and when.
This concept also reminds me of one of my favorite childhood movies, Pollyanna, which was based on Eleanor H. Porter’s 1913 novel. The main character, Pollyanna, played by Hayley Mills, brings “The Glad Game” to a very pessimistic town. The Glad Game, is simply, the conscience decision to find something good in every situation. Doesn’t that sound familiar? If you haven’t seen this movie, you definitely should; it’s a classic!
So, after hearing about how I have used my happiness, how do you stay motivated, entertained, and happy? What is your “happiness?” I want to know!