Saturday, February 2, 2013

Six Secrets of Happiness

Frequently when expectant parents are asked if they want a boy or a girl

They say - "I dont care - as long as its normal and healthy "

But some of us, like me, we don't get that normal child

And instead of being the end of joy like we thought it was

It can become the  beginning of it

Like it did for me.

No- my child is not closer to god (or atleast not more so than any other child ), or possessing of some special gifts

And yet I many days , I am happy

Some days because of what happens , some days in spite of what happens

One  of the gifts of autism has been that it has made me examine happiness - the hows and whys of it 

Here are some of my happiness insights

Secret 1: Choosing to be happy  

Bear with me here - if you are the sort of person that says - well-what-if-you-were-being-tortured-by-a-serial-killer-could-you-then-choose-to-be-happy?????

I would answer - no perhaps happiness is not a choice in that very specific situation

But, barring these exceptions - most of the times we can in fact choose to be happy

Even in a day like today - when my car broke down, work basically involved taking 2 steps forward and 4 steps backward, my son vomited, I found out that I really could not get out of that cell-phone plan - there were plenty of good things

Secret 2: Using exaggerated positive words and not exaggerated negative words

How many times do we use language like

"The presentation was a disaster"
 I could have died of shame"
"I made a total fool of myself"
 " those moms must  think I am such an idiot"
"How do I keep gaining pounds back again - I have  zero will power"
"My head is going to explode"

In this way, we interpret and describe our experiences and our life to ourselves

Secret 3: Experience life don't perform in it

When you think of your life- think about trying to experience it with joy.

Don't think about how well you are performing in life in your various roles as a woman/wife/mother etc

My friends and I often talk about the to-do list that we all seem to have running in our heads

The project to complete , the next hill to take, modify that IEP , clean that kitchen, make those cupcakes for school

And yet , surely we were put on earth to do more than lose weight and clean kitchens

Even when those chores are necessary, its so  important to   not define myself by how well we  do tin hem

Secret 3: The secret of positive thinking to think negatively in the short term

Expecting things to go wrong and thinking of that as normal is one of my main ways of being positive

I know its very counterintuitive but try this today

Expect that every other thing that you do will not go as well as you thought it would

The thing you should visualize with positive thinking - is that when things go wrong  will be okay with it !

Secret 4: The Secret

A few years ago this book came out "The Secret"

 Everybody talked about the laws of attraction and how by thinking of good things the universe would send those things your way

Its also one of those seductive theories that are impossible to disprove

If something good happens - Guess what? You attracted it with all those positive thoughts

If  something bad happens? - well clearly you were not positive enough !

I don't believe in the secret - but for far  off things we have no control over - I think it kind of works

Because it changes our behavior. And that can change of the outcome

Secret 5 : Practicing Gratitude

Think of yourself as lucky and blessed.

 If you know where your next few meals are coming from - you are luckier than a 3rd of the world.

The problem is that we usually tend to compare with those who seem more fortunate than us

The other day we were discussing an article about how Facebook can lead to feeling depressed

For special needs mums - it can be special stab in the heart

As our friends post about their perfect children - we wonder how we started the same way and then went on these separate paths

A friend had this insight that people only post about the perfect bits of their life and maybe in reality their real lives are different than their facebook lives

While that is true to an extent, I think it is quite likely  that some people have it easier than us ( just as some others have it harder than us )

But the point is not how much better or worse we are doing than someone else

The point is really how we feel about ourselves and our life

Secret 6 : Happiness takes practice

Most people think of happiness as a result of some event

But I feel that happiness is a practice .

Neurologist says "Neurons that fire together, wire together "

Every time you walk down a neurological path thinking thoughts like "I am grateful" Life is good", you make it easier to walk down that path again

The world is a very good place. It is also sometimes an awful place

Both these things are true

But I try to be the sort of person that say life is mostly good and people are basically nice.

In this way I frame my life to be the sort of life that is good to be in

This post has been written for Hopeful Parents and will be published there tomorrow


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