by Carmela Granada
It Takes A Conscious Effort To Be Happy
Is it just me, or is it harder to be happy when you’re older? Remember when we were in our teens and twenties when life was so much easier? Now that I am in my thirties, I realized that it takes an active effort to be happy. Do you feel the same way?
In your thirties, you may find yourself falling into the comparison trap. You may be taking on a new set of responsibilities. Maybe you have unfulfilled life goals. You may have experienced a terrible loss. Your body is not as healthy as it used to be. Perhaps now, you have higher standards in life, and you are not happy with the things that used to make you feel fulfilled.
I want to be a happier thirty-something-year-old. Yes, happiness is fleeting. Yes, happiness is different from joy. But is it wrong to want to be happy? Of course not! So, I did some things that I think made me a happier stay-at-home mom. This is why I made this list, to share some of the things I did to make my life happier. If you are in pain, or in the midst of suffering, please ignore this blog post. It will only make you feel worse and I do not want to trivialize what you are going through.
Continue reading if you want to know how I try to be happi(er). Also, I am not a 100% happy person! In reality, I am an angry mama bear. 🙂 I am just someone who wants to seek happiness with intention.
What I Do To “Stay Happy”
1. Identify your source/s of unhappiness.
I don’t know why, but it pisses me off when somebody says, “You SHOULD be grateful that you are____” or “you SHOULD not feel sad because___”. Please don’t tell me what I should or should not feel even if I know that you are just trying to make me feel better.
Are you feeling tired or overwhelmed? Do you have any regrets? Are you feeling insecure? Do you feel the pressure to be successful? Are you stuck with people you don’t want to be with? Do you feel like the energy and love that you give are not reciprocated? Do you feel any resentment towards someone? Are you sick of your current situation? These are all valid reasons to be unhappy. And it is okay to feel sad.
2. Learn how to say a powerful “no”.
A fake yes is a great source of stress! My time and energy are so precious and I cannot waste them on things that will only make me sad/ uncomfortable/ resentful, etc. I am still in the process of learning how to do this right. In my culture, many people do not seem to understand that “no means no” and I am not “pakipot“ (saying no when you really mean yes). For some reason, when you say no, you will be the source of “chismis” or gossip. Also, when you say “yes” one time, it is an invitation for more “yeses” in the future. Therefore, I need to say no like I mean it! I make my “no” more powerful by making my eyes look bigger!
I threw away or donated things that have no purpose in my life or are taking up too much space. I have two kids under three and I am in charge of most of the household chores. The constant cleaning can drive you crazy! I realized that to clean our space, I need to remove things that are “in the way”!
A question you can ask yourself is “Does it spark joy? (Marie Kondo)” If it does not make you happy, throw it out. I threw out old receipts, junk paper, broken things and donated unwanted gifts, clothes that I don’t wear anymore, and my children’s old baby clothes. Empty, cleaned-out spaces make me so happy! Do you feel the same way or are you happy being surrounded by lots of things? If hoarding makes you happy, then do the opposite!
4. Unfriend/ leave group/ restrict/ unfollow.
I recently ended a very toxic friendship which lasted for two decades. It was painful at first, but it was definitely worth it! Not all friendships will last forever, and that is okay. I unfriended those fake friends who unfollowed me on Instagram, the tactless titas/ titas who left snarky comments on my photos, the ghost followers who didn’t interact with me on Facebook, the tita who bullied me, etc. I left groups that I don’t care about/ yung hindi ko na feel. Just recently, I archived a group that I started because it did not work out. That’s okay! If you feel like Facebook is making you unhappy, deactivate! Most of the time people don’t even notice! Also, the thirties is the time for pruning. Quality over quantity.
5. Keep a journal.
I keep a one-sentence-a-day journal to record happy/ positive things about my day. It helps a lot, at least for me. I remember having a really shitty day and writing “I thank God I am still breathing” on that particular date. I also keep another journal to record all my angry/ sad feelings, rants, and complaints. “My Little Bad Book” is like a private Twitter account with 0 followers!
6. Go outside.
Sometimes, a change of environment is what you need to lift your mood. It has come to the point where I truly enjoy taking out the garbage! I treasure those quiet ten minutes of basurera time. If it is possible to incorporate some outdoor time into your day, then take advantage of it! For new mommies with very small babies, it may seem impossible to go outside. But if you can figure out a way to do it, it may help! If you can’t go outside at all, just ignore my suggestion.
7. Connect with people you genuinely care about.
The best feeling in the world is when you can spend time with the people you truly love! I really enjoy traveling with my husband and kids. Because my true friends live in the Philippines or in the US, I try to carve out some time out of my busy day to send them a PM/ react to their Instastory/ write a nice comment on their post, etc. I have recently found a new group of online mommy friends who can totally relate to my struggles. They are the non-annoying type who don’t give unsolicited advice. I realized that I just needed friends who understand what I am going through! That’s it. Find your tribe/ support group.
8. Find a creative outlet.
I used to be afraid of doing something new because I didn’t want to be judged for it. But now, I have learned to stop caring about what other people think (or at least 85% of the time)! Here’s the fun part: your creative outlet does not have to be connected to your degree/ job! What do you enjoy doing? Is it cooking? Blogging? Crocheting? Shopping? Building Lego architecture? Whatever it is, if you have the resources and that small block of time in your day…just do it.
9. Complete a nagging task.
I got this idea from Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project. Tasks that are not accomplished can really make you feel uneasy. What task have you been putting off lately? For me, recording my family’s receipts on Excel is such a boring chore. But the feeling of finally throwing out those crumpled receipts from April an May was so satisfying.
10. Post whatever you want to post on social media.
Post that shameless selfie. Baby spam all you want. Show off whatever you want to show off. Post your opinions! Nobody ain’t got time to think about other people’s feelings. They know how to use the UNFOLLOW button. JUST DON’T POST MOVIE SPOILERS! Ibang usapan na yan!
11. Set your priorities straight.
I got this idea from a good friend Dr. Melvin Sanicas. What are the 5 most important things in your life (in no particular order)? Focus on those things.
12. Find that quiet space/ time to be alone.
This is easier said than done. For me, that quiet time is during my kids’ naptime (there are days when I don’t get this time, tbh). I use this time to read/ pray/ reflect/ listen to God/ write/ do self-care, etc.
13. Make someone else happy.
Last week, I was feeling so overwhelmed and sad. I felt so alone. I literally cried out to God and asked Him to lift me out of this dark pit. Five minutes later, I received a message from a good old family friend! That person validated my feelings and gave me some words of encouragement. My friend was also feeling down at that time but he chose to make someone else happy. I said that I am going to continue the cycle of kindness by reaching out to another person who is feeling down.
Now if you are feeling sad and you don’t want to happy now, then why are you still reading this post? Seriously, you shouldn’t be reading “how to be happy” blog posts. It is perfectly fine to be sad. We don’t always have to be happy.
Maybe some of you can relate to this, but it’s my responsibility to be happy. Because of my current situation as a mom of two little boys, my mood inevitably affects everyone else’s. My husband wrote this message on his Mother’s Day card for me:
“You put the joy in this home. You are the emotional leader of our family- when you are happy, we feel it and are happy too!”
So really, the reason why I want to stay happy is because of my husband and kids. I don’t want to be remembered as the sad and angry mom. My goal is for my family to see me as the “light of our home”.
What’s On Your List?
I really want to know. What do you do to be a happier person? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.
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This blog post is part of the Main Life link up party!