happiness, part 2

See our nice pot lid rack? It's waaaay up there on my list of favourite kitchen things. Oh wait, is there something else in that cupboard?
Heh heh.

I know that this post has been a long time in the making. I'm continuing to think about happiness, and since the recent post I wrote about it was rather brief, I wanted to mention a few other things.

Firstly, just to be extremely clear, I am not in any way suggesting that depression, mental illness, or tragic events can be simply whisked away by being appreciative of what you have and focusing on the big picture. My way of handling all of the distressing things going on in the world is to recognize their importance, and to do something helpful if possible.
The moon setting as the sun rose yesterday.
When I think of the word 'happy', I imagine one of the Seven Dwarfs. Or someone who is flaky and shallow. I use 'happiness' and 'contentment' interchangeably, and think I prefer the word contentment. It's so much calmer and more pleasant to the ear. I still think of myself as a happy person, though.

Today's contentment tips:

Along a very similar vein as working with what you have, start where you are. For example, I dream of a day when I will have uninterrupted time to do stuff that I like to do. Since I have a rather busy life with two small children and a full time job (oh yeah, and a small business on the side), that's not going to happen any time soon. So I try to take the time where I can get it. It might not be a whole morning to clean the house and have it spotless (yes, that's one of the things I enjoy doing), but I can do a quick once-over in the bathroom before my shower in the morning. "Someday never comes", "don't wish your life away", and all of that. I know that when the boys are older, I'm going to think so fondly of this time I have with them right now. And I try to enjoy every minute I have with them. (As any parent will gladly attest, this is easier on some days than others.)
Lavender Honey.
Second contentment tip, which kind of ties in with the effort vs. pay-off tip in the previous post. For me, being organized breeds happiness. I have found that doing little things 'for myself' (i.e. things I  have to do anyway, but I do them before the last minute) gives me some sense of  happiness in several ways. First, I have the satisfaction of it being done and not hanging over my head. Let's take getting my things organized for work the night before  as an example. After getting everything in place, I have the peace of  mind of knowing that it's done, so I don't need to think about doing it. When I'm on my way out the door in the morning, not only is my stuff  ready (satisfaction and alleviated frustration) but it makes the  transition in my day go that much more smoothly, which in turn, affects the rest of my day and gives me time to get other things done up ahead to make the next day go more smoothly, and on and on. These things snowball - it's fantastic, and on the days I've been on the ball, I seem to be a lot more efficient.

Disclaimer: this doesn't happen every day, and some days feel chaotic; in fact, I am making a point to do it every night this week to see how much more smoothly the mornings go. Speaking of mornings, make some lavender honey. It will make your mornings a little bit sweeter.
Lavender honey.
 More generally: Live intentionally. With purpose. As though you're here for a reason. Although I'm sure the term is all over the place, I picked it up from Organized Simplicity. It encompasses sooo much of what I know works for me and just makes sense. As the Avett Brothers say, "Decide what to be, and go be it." You decide how to handle each situation you are presented with in the run of a day. Erin wrote a fantastic post about precisely this, as well - the choices we make. Go read it, it's far better than anything I could come up with. And join in if you're inclined - that's where my 'Year of Choice' sidebar button came from.

**Probably even better than anything I could come up with, I found an excellent source of tons of information and practical, science-based things on happiness, too - Berkeley's Center for the Greater Good. Absolutely fascinating. Definitely have a look.

As far as happiness, parenting, and raising happy children, the Raising Happiness podcast is great - short, practical, easy to listen to, and very relevant. I'm so glad that I came across it! Each podcast is about an issue in parenting; The Art of Setting Limits, and Pushover vs. Dictator are two recent examples of the topics covered - give it a listen and see if it can spark some happiness in your family.

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