I have spent a ton of time lately thinking about how to find happiness in times like these.
I think about all the different situations that surround so many people in my life. So how can you find happiness when: you’ve lost your job, you’ve lost your house, your child is dying, your child has an incurable condition, you have cancer, your parent just died of cancer, or you are getting divorced? Those are just some examples.
How can you be happy amidst all the insanity that envelopes your life when you are dealing with just one of those things, let alone multiple things?
My family was hit hard by the economy.
The financial stress was creating turmoil in our lives. Once we made the decision to downsize and do what was best for our family, our lives increased a hundred fold. I won’t lie, it was not an easy decision, and one that I spent many nights crying over. Of course I still have moments where I miss my big bedroom, fancy kitchen, and beautiful hardwood floors, but those moments are fleeting. I am thankful for what we have now.
We have downsized and it has saved our lives.
Over the past week we have added 8 chickens and 3 goats to our existing brood. We are getting our land ready for a huge vegetable garden that we will plant in the spring.
My husband and kids are outside everyday working and playing, enjoying hours and hours of “green” therapy. Grass and sunshine are keeping my family happy and sane. Sure, we still sit inside and watch TV, check our computers, and play Legos, but we are living it up outside! These are things we never did at our old house. We are happy, really happy.
I have finally transformed my feeling of loss, the loss of the life I knew, to a true feeling of joy. This house is amazing for Blaise and Maddock, my two sons. My kids get more exercise at their own house than they could at any park or gym out there. We spend so much time together as a family, playing and working outside. Our loss really brought us closer together. Our loss helped our family. Our loss became our saving grace.
I think about this topic a lot in regards to my son, Blaise, having Prader Willi Syndrome and Autism.
I think about how much those two things have enriched me, not destroyed me.
I think all the time how lucky I am. I have always loved to cook, I have always been healthy, but PWS has taught me more about food than any book could have ever taught me. I have always had great friends, but PWS has brought me a second family that I wouldn’t trade for the world. I have always had compassion, but PWS has taught me compassion on the purest level. So again, this is yet another example of how I turned sadness and loss into love.
I met a man yesterday, a farmer, who used to work construction. He was a very successful contractor who raised animals on the side. When the economy went south he said that he would start farming full time. He is happy and he is doing well. He could have thrown in the towel when his business failed, but instead he chose to find a different path, and make it joyful and successful.
I meet people like this all the time. I used to think to myself how do they do that? How can they be happy when life is such, pardon my french, Crap.
I get it now.
For me I had no choice. I can’t sit and cry everyday that Blaise has PWS. I can’t sit and cry everyday that my son is in pain every moment of his life. I can’t sit and cry that my son won’t live the life I had dreamed for him. I can’t sit and cry everyday that my son has to fight for everything in his life. I can’t sit and cry everyday that I don’t have my big house anymore. I can’t sit and cry that my life didn’t work out the way I had planned.
I did try it though. And to be clear: it didn’t do anything for me.
I had a crash course in, “HOW TO BE HAPPY WHEN YOUR LIFE TAKES A DETOUR!”
You can either spend everyday crying, or you can find things to make that loss into your “new life.”
Don’t misunderstand me, it’s ok to cry. In fact, it’s good to let it out and release. I have cried a lot. I had to cry and grieve for a long time when Blaise was diagnosed, but then I had to move on.
I had a good friend remind me that “LIFE IS FULL OF VALLEYS AND PEAKS!” Whenever I have a bad day I remind myself of that. I remember that tomorrow I could be back on the peak.
I don’t have to have an AMAZING day everyday, but I make it a practice to find something joyful in the day, even if it is just an itty-bitty thing.
I am blessed. I believe that it is important to acknowledge that to myself everyday. I know first hand that my thoughts can have a major impact on my life. If I choose to be happy than I can take steps to see and have that happiness. It is a conscience practice everyday.
So although it may not seem possible right now to be happy amidst all the crap in your life, you can. Even if it is just baby steps in the beginning. Find just one thing that made you happy today and start there.
Happiness spreads. Let it.
Guest blogger Rachel Pastilof is a native of Philadelphia/South Jersey, who currently resides in Atlanta with her husband and two young sons, ages 5 and 2 1/2. In 2009 Rachel’s oldest son was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder called Prader-Willi Syndrome, with a diagnosis of autism to follow shortly after. The diagnosis was traumatic and forever altered the course of her life. Rachel has made it her mission to educate the world about children who have special needs and parents who raise children with special needs. Between doctors appointments, therapy sessions, and the normal stuff everyday parents do, Rachel writes a blog – 3wordsfor365.com. Rachel and her sister Jennifer also run a charity called G.A.M.E. Yoga.(www.gameyoga.org) that provides yoga for free to children with special needs.