I totally missed ya’ll! For some reason, I didn’t have the heart to completely shut down Speak To The Brain. It lingered in the back of my mind while trying to venture onto new projects; new boring, “why am I doing this again,” kind of projects. I missed blogging about mental health and I have recently realized that my new projects aren’t as fun as blogging for Speak To The Brain. So, I’m back!
My Much Needed Break
I don’t entirely regret taking a break from Speak To The Brain, for that I had a lot going on (don’t we all) that required my full attention. However, the biggest reason for my break from blogging, was my oldest, who is no longer a pre-schooler, but now a full-blown Kindergartener! I, like so many other moms on this planet, was having a difficult time letting go…
My oldest was born a micro-preemie (3 months early, weighing just 1 lb) and as of this past summer, was still not up to par mentally. Basically, we worried that she wasn’t mature enough to start school. Academically, we weren’t worried; however, she still acts like a toddler with her defiant bad attitude; in which, her pediatrician feared would get her “kicked out” of Kindergarten. However, the school administrator ensured me (as if trying to make a commission sale) that all will be fine and that they certainly “do not kick kids out of Kindergarten.”
So, I spent the rest of the summer spending as much time with my oldest as possible trying to prepare her for Kindergarten (and wrapping up the wonderful baby years that I’m so very much going to miss). Unfortunately, I neglected to prepare myself for Kindergarten. I was not prepared to tackle my own social anxieties having to talk to teachers and other parents! I wasn’t ready for the pressures of PTA, parent / teacher conference, and a bunch of social school events. It’s so totally awkward!
New Content: Social Anxiety
Although I am pretty good at keeping my OCD in check, I am faced with a new mental health challenge: social anxiety!
Okay, I’ve always had social anxiety. I am the person you invite to a social gathering who kindly accepts, but can’t seem to cross over the threshold, later texting excuses and apologies for not showing up. Yup, I am that person. Although I’m much better now- I’ve learned to say “no” up front, rather than string people along on my anxiety ride.
But that’s not the issue. I am an introvert who has forgotten how to simply say, “hello.” Words either fail to come out of my mouth or awkwardly stumble out of my mouth, making me look like… a dork. Sometimes I sound rude while other times, I sound like an idiot. And most of the time, neither of us (in a two-way conversation) knows what I am talking about, with many awkward pauses in between. Obviously, my social skills are a bit rusty and apparently, I have picked up on some of my husband’s quirky social skills, in which, is driving me crazy. I am a mess! But, I guess on the bright-side, I have new content for Speak To The Brain!
Do you have social-anxiety? What are things that you struggle with socially- words, body language, or thoughts of intense judgement (or all of it)?
I totally look forward to blogging again! Please be on the look-out for some future posts and remember, your mental health matters too! Smile and breathe! ❤
I am a late night grocery shopper, because shopping at the grocery store during the day, by myself, is a nightmare with anxiety!
I am not the only one who experiences shopping anxiety; my husband won’t even get out of the car unless the entire family goes inside the store with him. If he does go into the store by himself, in which is rare, he comes out looking white as a ghost, hair frazzled on end, and heart pounding, as if he had to battle an army of orcs inside the grocery store just to get a gallon a milk. Unfortunately, he doesn’t even make it to the dairy section; as that would be like having to venture towards the back of the grocery store into Narnia. Instead, he comes back with an 8oz carton of milk from the check out line! You know, I am not judging, because it happens to us all!
Peak Time For Anxiety Is 5pm
My anxiety triggers OCD, thus why I absolutely hate shopping during the day. I can deal with a little anxiety, but once it triggers an OCD episode, I am done! I too, walk out of the grocery store white as a ghost, hair frazzled on end, and heart pounding, worried about the most irrational horrific things in the world about a gallon of milk. So, to save myself from emotional distress, I prefer to shop at night, where there is no crowd, the night stockers often sing and dance while the speakers play rock & roll, instead of the usually sappy music that is required to play during the day, and the check out clerks are much happier! It’s an entirely different atmosphere after the sun goes down.
Again, I can largely relate to my husband’s experience inside the grocery store. Although I enjoy shopping late at night, every so often I have to run to the store for one or two things before dinner time. Unfortunately, 5pm at the grocery store is always crazy! It is crowded with all sorts of different shoppers, from the old complaining about the cost of inflation to the young trying to buy alcohol. There are those holding up lines over expired coupons, writing checks, or just simply talking about their day to a clerk who doesn’t really care. The worst though, are the people who just got off work and are trying to rush through the grocery store like football line-backers. They are hungry, rude, and in a hurry! Personally, I don’t blame them, because they just want to get home like the rest of us.
Every so often, I treat myself to a mud mask (scares the monkey’s out of my kids). MUD MONSTER! Anyway, I enjoy it, also my skin comes out smooth, fresh, and less “old and tired” looking.
I’ve tried all different kinds of mud-masks and my two favorite are charcoal and dead-sea mineral mud masks. The charcoal masks are great for cleaning out pores and the dead-sea mineral masks are great for making skin feel soft, plus reduces dark circles and redness. So, I try to do a dead-sea mineral mask once a week (if I am lucky) and the weeks I look absolutely dreadful, I do a charcoal mask, since that’s more heavy duty than a dead-sea mineral mask. Although I am not really into the girly-girl things, I do enjoy mud-masks.
I went to the store recently and stocked up on mud masks, but I didn’t realize, I stocked up on the wrong kind of mud mask. I remember I bought them when I was making a milk run to the grocery store when the grocery store was super busy. I had anxiety. I remember two girls talking loudly about their business and it made me nervous, so I quickly grab the mud masks. I saw “dead-sea…” but I did not comprehend the rest of it, “dead-seaweed,” SEA-WEED! What! I bought a couple of mud-masks with seaweed instead of my usual dead-sea mineral mud masks.
Shopping Anxiety Is Not Always Bad
I am cool. I am hip. I can try smearing sea-weed all over my face, why not?
I tried it! Although the experience is not very pleasant as sea-weed certainly smells, it sure did make my skin look pretty! I am not opposed to doing it again, but probably not something I am willing to do all the time.
So, shopping with anxiety isn’t always terrible. To be honest, I probably wouldn’t try new things if I weren’t rushing through a grocery store with anxiety and picking up the wrong stuff every so often. Sure, sometimes I am forced to exchange items, like the time I needed butter and quickly picked up a block of cream-cheese instead. For the record, that was not entirely my fault, for that the grocery store had moved the butter section!
Making The Best Of Things
My point is, that anxiety is not always terrible. Sometimes good unexpected things can come out of it. If you go to the grocery store for lemons and come back with limes, I guess make limeade instead!
Dark heavy intrusive thought clouds can be overwhelming, but clearer skies are on their way. Like all massive storms, intrusive thought storms seem to last forever. They can be scary, especially, when the storm intensifies with emotion causing more anxiety.
Whenever a storm threatens a perfectly good day, one can either seek shelter and wait it out in comfort or learn to dance happily in the rain.
It is completely up to you, how you choose to respond to your intrusive thoughts! ❤
Because OCD is an anxiety disorder, I thought stress would play a much bigger role in my OCD. Interestingly though, stress does not affect my OCD brain at all. I respond to stress much differently than I do to anxiety. For me, anxiety affects my mental state (causing OCD episodes) whereas stress affects my physical body (causing tummy aches). It’s strange, I know; especially, when anxiety and stress are pretty similar in nature.
My Unpleasant Vertigo Experience
The other day, I had a terrifying experience with vertigo due to stress. I had difficulty detecting my surroundings. The room was not just spinning in one direction, but in all directions like a free-falling space capsule plumenting towards an alien surface through uneven gravity. Lying down was even worse, as it felt like I was on a tiny gondola in the middle of an ocean during a turbulent thunderstorm storm. I also couldn’t detect the edge of my bed, thus making it dangerous to go to sleep without surrounding myself with a bunch of pillows to ensure I didn’t end up on the floor during the night. The reason our bodies don’t fall off the bed while sleeping, is because our vestibular senses are aware of the ground at all times. When our vestibular senses go out of whack, like due to vertigo, the body has difficulty detecting where the ground is and BAM!, you end up face to face with the floor! Also, while I was going through this, not a single OCD thought stirred; I am guessing my OCD brain was too busy trying to fix it’s internal compass. My husband and I are convinced it was stress-related. It was a crazy, absolutely no fun, experience that I hope I never have to experience again!
Stress vs. Anxiety
Although stress and anxiety seem to cause the same symptoms, there is a difference between them, for that they differ in “origin.” Anxiety is generally caused by unplesant internal thoughts and ideas, whereas stress is generally caused by unpleasant external situations. Furthermore, anxiety can lead to stress and stress can lead to anxiety.
When I think of the word stress, I think of physics, where a physical force is placed upon an object causing the object to bend or lean; with too much stress, the object is likely to break, fall over, or collapse. I believe the same for mental stress. External situations such as being in a financial rut, overwhelmed with a heavy workload, or being late due to heavy traffic; can create a mental force that has the potential to cause stress on the body. When we internalize these external situations with “stinking thinking,” that is when stress turns into anxiety (worry). Then, vice versa, whereas chronic anxiety due to “stinking thinking” has the potential to cause stress, physical effects on the body. In short, stress and anxiety can intermingle with one another causing havoc on the mind, body, and soul.
Okay, I am not at all satisfied with that explanation; so I would love to hear your thoughts regarding the differences between stress and anxiety?
Acceptance Is Important In Coping With Stress
Despite having an anxiety disorder, I tend to cope with stress a lot better than I do anxiety. Throw me into a bull-pen with a dozen angry bulls and I am as cool as a cucumber, using rational thinking to defuse a stressful situation. However, I will be completely honest, I absolutely struggle to cope with stress caused by situations I have no control over; especially, situations that I cannot resolved right then and there. Although I can make the best of a stressful situation, I often fail to accept that I am “stuck” in a stressful situation where there is nothing that “I” can personally do about it, not now nor perhaps even later. Sometimes there are stressful situations that just can’t be resolved and it’s something I must let go or just ride it out til the end (off into the sunset I suppose).
There are lots of things I can do to reduce stress, but in the end, I think the most efficient tool in my stress-management tool box is the art of acceptance. “Woosah!” (Bad Boys II movie reference)
Guided Meditation To Defuse Stress
I am feeling much better today, all because of THE HONEST GUYS! The Honest Guys is a Youtube channel that provides meditation and relaxation videos. I absolutely LOVE, LOVE, LOVE their guided meditations! The CALM app I have is good, but these guys are even better and is a must share! I feel grounded again! I am smiling again! I am energetic again! I am no longer stressed out! Thank you Honest Guys!
No affiliated links here, I promise!
Above is the video I’ve been playing to help myself get to sleep at night. Lately for me, stress has been interrupting my sleep schedule and I find it very difficult to overcome stress when I’m tired and not thinking straight. I also think stress and fatigue contributed to my little episode of vertigo.
Of course, meditations videos don’t work for everyone. I totally suck at medtiation and I don’t like dry guided meditations without sounds of things I am suppose to imagine. However, these videos include visual images with sounds that relate to the visual images to improve the guided meditation experience.
Anyway, whether you are looking for new meditation videos or need to try something new to help relax, I totally recommend THE HONEST GUYS Youtube channel.
How do you cope with stress? Leave a comment below, I look forward to hearing from you!
I used to think mindful walking meant “watching” your step. Like, the delicate art of dodging sneaky fixed-light poles, jumping over Grand Canyon size pot holes, avoiding embarrassing trips over large cracks in the sidewalk, and trying not to invade personal space bubbles of others walking around you, including getting tangled up with animal friends on long leashes. Makes sense, right? Walking in general, kind of requires some level of mindfulness. How much more mindful should we be?
Well…walking mindfully, is so much more than just watching your step and being aware of your surroundings (calm down secret Ninja). Mindful walking is enjoying your surroundings, feeling the moment, and engaging in all your senses. Although it sounds complicated, like rubbing your tummy and patting your head at the same time, I assure you, it’s actually very easy.
Walking Like A Zombie
We don’t have to actively think about moving our feet to walk, (left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot), we kind of just do it automatically. Sometimes to the point, we can end up at the refrigerator without even realizing it, browsing mindlessly into an open refrigerator not even sure if we have a hungry tummy. Our feet take us on all sorts of trips, but rarely do we remember any part of the trip. Seriously, walking in the parking lot from your car to the grocery store; do you ever remember specifics to your surroundings?
When our bodies are in this normal automatic (zombie) mode, our Fight or Flight Response System is directing our senses, not us, mostly because we are too busy thinking about other things. I know while I am walking to the grocery store from my car, the only thing on my mind is a shopping list. This is why we rarely remember any specifics from point A to point B, such as how many people were in the parking lot, particular smells, the color of parked cars, a penny on the ground, or any trees or flowers in the parking lot; well, unless you parked next to a tree, then of course, you have to remember that tree.
My point is, we do see all of these things, but we rarely pay attention to any of it, unless it sparks an interest, like a unique rainbow colored car with unicorn horns or things that pose a danger to us, like a vehicle backing out of a parking space in front of us or the smell of gasoline. We are semi-aware of our surroundings; but our Fight or Flight Response System is doing majority of the work when we don’t walk mindfully, because its mission is to keep us safe while our mind focuses on other things (like a shopping list).
Mindful Walking 101
The next time you go for a walk, even a short trip to the refrigerator, try to practice mindful walking.
To start, you have to get your feet moving in a desired direction, then once you are on your way, bring full-attention to your body then extend your senses outward to the world. Taking in each moment of every step as you walk from point A to point B. Bringing your full attention to one simple task, such as walking, is extremely calming and sometimes enlightening.
Focusing On The Breath
On longer walks, like a good exercise around the block, always start with your breath. Focus on your breath by paying close attention to its sound; notice your chest moving in and out as your breathe. Can you feel your muscles working? Once you get a good, calm, breathing rhythm, move your attention to your feet.
Feet to Head Mental Scan
As you walk, you want to take notice to how your feet feel against the ground. Are you a light stepper or a heavy stepper? Are you walking fast or slow? Try to notice the heel -toe movement in walking. Can you feel any muscles working?
After your feet, pay full-attention to each body area, working your way up to your head. Move upward from your feet to your thighs, then to your hips (do they sway side to side as you walk, mine do). Then focus on your back, how is your posture as you walk? Wiggle your arms and fingers, focus on the sensations there. Finally, move up to your head where you will begin to extend your senses outward.
Using Senses To Discover A New World
When you engage in all your senses while walking, the world around you becomes more vivid, clearer, and sometimes even more beautiful. That is because you begin to notice things you never noticed before.
Try to bring your full attention to each of your senses.
What do you smell? Is it good or bad? Does it spark any memories?
What do you see? Look for flowers and trees. Pay attention to building architecture. Notice textures and colors.
What do you hear? Birds chirping? Dogs barking? Kids screaming? Construction? How does it make you feel?
Focus on taste. Morning coffee? Toothpaste? Unique unpleasant after-taste? Is it slightly raining? No shame in taking a taste of rain like a kid, enjoy it!
Focus on touch. Touch everything, but be mindful of boundaries. Touch flowers, dirt, the bricks of a house. What does it feel like? Take your shoes off while walking along a beach (avoid rocks).
The point is to activate all your senses while still being mindful of your surroundings to remain safe from danger. You can enjoy your walk so much more, by taking in every moment of your journey. This is truly the art of being mindful.
Gratitude Is The Result Of Being Mindful
Focusing on your breath and doing a toe to head body scan brings your body to a state of relaxation. However, engaging all your senses can bring a sense of gratitude. As you focus on your senses, you begin to appreciate all the new discoveries. Gratitude often leads to happiness and happiness is always a good thing. 🙂
The OCD brain loves to devour self-confidence; so much so, that it can leave one drooling with self-doubt.
In my opinion, I believe self-doubt to be the ultimate objective of an Obsessive-Compulsive bully brain. Self-doubt can cloud judgement, distort reality, and make us feel weak, insecure, and sometimes questioning our sanity. The OCD bully brain feels pretty good about kicking our self-esteem in the gonads, leaving us to feel like, well, totally not in control and less like our wonderful selves. Once you begin to doubt yourself, game over, the OCD bully brain has won!
Cannot Beat OCD With Crutches
Unfortuantely, you cannot defeat an OCD bully brain with crutches. You might be able to wave them around like a dork, swinging at your OCD like crazy, but eventually, you’ll lose your balance and fall hard on your butt. Crutches are not good at fighting back against OCD.
An OCD crutch is something we can lean on to help us bounce back quickly from a bad OCD thought, feeling, and/or compulsive behavior.
It can be a person who can reassure us verbally that all is okay in the world, instead of working through our OCD episodes ourselves, convincing ourselves all is okay in the world.
It can be a dash-camera used to rewind and check back on an anxious drive, instead of compulsively wasting time and gas to drive back to redo the drive over again.
It can be checking a security camera to make sure the stove is in fact turned off, instead of having the compulsive need to drive all the way back home to check the stove.
It can be wearing gloves 24-7 to ease the mind from having to worry about germs.
It could also be using medication that was meant to be short-term while learning how to cope with OCD, yet it eventually became a long-term solution instead, because it was easier.
OCD crutches are things that typically accommodate our OCD needs, making it easier and faster to move on with life without having to really work through our OCD problems. They come in all different varieties, it just largely depends on how you use them and for how long.
Although OCD crutches help us better cope with our OCD, they are not very effective against overcoming the emotional suffering of OCD. OCD crutches, by themselves, just makes us feel a little less “OCD.”
Having an OCD crutch isn’t terrible though. In fact, it is a step forward towards overcoming the emotional suffering of OCD. They are great to use as a short-term solution, easing your mind long enough to develop and practice a better, more effective, long-term game plan in conquering OCD; such as allowing yourself to focus on practicing CBT techniques, anxiety and stress management, recognizing and understanding OCD triggers, and working on a bit of mindfulness- all things required to overcome emotional suffering of OCD.
Taking A Leap Of Faith Away From OCD
To truly free yourself from the emotional suffering caused by Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, you must first drop the crutches and take a leap of faith into uncertainty.
Think of the movie, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusades, where Indiana Jones ends up at the temple of the “The Treasury” in Petra, Jordan, seeking out the Holy Grail.
Remember the scene where Indiana Jones must take a leap of faith across a bottomless pit to save his father. (Clip of this scene is below) He really has to just dive right in and take a step into thin air (uncertainty), in which to his surprise, after minor heart failure over the fear of the unknown, realizes there is in fact a solid “invisible” bridge across the bottomless pit.
This entire scene, from the moment of extreme uncertainty to the heavy sigh of relief, is exactly what it is like dropping the OCD crutches and overcoming the emotional suffering caused by the OCD bully brain. In fact, Harrison Ford expresses the exact emotions (just look at his facial expressions), that I feel when I finally muster up enough confidence to take a leap of faith to overcome self-doubt from my OCD. I am the Indiana Jones of my own OCD!
Stopping Compulsive Behavior
It’s an odd sensation; resisting a compulsive behavior.
At first, when the mind is overwhelmed with emotions and OCD thoughts, it is difficult to even imagine resisting against the OCD bully brain and so, it is just easier to give in, following through with the compulsive behaviors.
Interestingly, through trial and error, we find things (OCD crutches) that allow us to sort of “compromise” with the OCD bully brain, by giving in to compulsive behavior or making ridiculous accommodations to avoid compulsive behavior, as best as we can, to better ease our experience with OCD. However, OCD still wins. The only way to successfully overcome the emotional suffering caused by OCD is by not giving in to OCD; however, I will be honest, the mere thought of taking back control can be really scary.
For me, resisting compulsive behavior is like fighting back against an invisible force field. BUT, like in every sci-fi movie, there is always a giant red shut-off button every villain doesn’t want you to find, but also seems to be in a dumb place for the hero to find anyway.
Yeah, the OCD bully brain is manipulative, not smart, just like a sci-fi movie villain. 🙂 It is amazing what a little self-confidence can do!
TAKING BACK CONTROL: Give it a Try
It never hurts to try to overcome our OCD. Below is how I take back control from my OCD brain.
I let OCD triggers happen. Avoiding them is often futile.
It is important that I recognize the moment I start to have an OCD episode. It’s much easier to work through an episode when I understand my brain is just being, well, OCD.
I then allow the OCD thoughts and feelings to linger like a stinky breeze on trash day.
I learned to never dwell on “why” these thoughts have come to mind. I am going to think about all the “why” questions anyway, but I know I must not start a debate with the OCD bully brain, because the OCD bully brain LOVES to debate with the logical brain. I cannot let this happen, because the OCD bully brain often wins by using ruthless manipulative tactics to create self-doubt.
I hold my confidence. I know I am smarter than my OCD bully brain.
I always take in a deep breath (or two or three); however many deep breathes it takes to keep me calm and bring myself closer to clarity. I am not looking to reach clarity, just enough clarity to keep my understanding that this is just my brain being OCD.
Then, the heavy need to perform a compulsive behavior comes… At this point, it is important to remember that I cannot control my thoughts or feelings, but I CAN control my physical actions. I can control how I chose to respond to my OCD bully brain.
As the thoughts swirl and the emotions build, pushing me to perform a compulsive behavior….I slam down on that imaginary red shut-off button instead! I take a leap of faith by confidently telling myself:
“This is ridiculous!Nothing will change if I waste time and energy by performing a compulsive behavior. I have good faith in myself that all is well. Everything was fine before this OCD thought came along and everything will be fine long after this thought leaves. I am in control.”
AND I REFUSE TO GIVE IN! Instead of performing a compulsive behavior, I look for a distraction to flush that lingering stench of a bad thought out of my brain!
Then, at the end, I wait until the bad OCD thought(s) are gone and my emotions have subsided before picking at my brain cells about “why” I had an OCD episode. I reflect on how I felt when I refused to perform a compulsive behavior. I also take note on how long I had to work through my OCD episode. Did I learn anything? How can I do better next time?
Everyone’s OCD is different, so what works for me, may not work for everyone else. But, it never hurts to try something new. In the beginning, refusing to perform a compulsive behavior was difficult, but with practice, it got a lot easier. Trial and Error is a huge part of overcoming the OCD bully brain.
Distractions Are Good For The Brain
I use to think distracting my OCD bully brain was just another OCD crutch, but it’s not. Distracting the brain is a healthy way to push lingering thoughts away. Our brains (so-called normal brains too) do it all the time.
It’s part of normal brain function. Our brains are constantly collecting input and we only take notice when something of interest sparks our brain and causes us to focus and think more deeply about it. If the thought doesn’t have a deep emotional attachment to it, we can easily let the thought go. However, when our OCD brains our anxious, our “Fight or Flight” Response System goes a bit haywire (frayed wiring I’ve talked about before) and our OCD bully brain tends to be extremely sensitive to thoughts and latches on emotionally, especially, to intrusive bad thoughts creating an OCD episode.
The Dash-Cam Is Back, But It’s Not For OCD
In the beginning, before I started to find ways to overcome my OCD, I used a dash-cam to record all my drives. I often wasted time and gas to drive all the way back to work or school, just to make sure I didn’t cause any accidents. The dash-cam, saved me time and gas, but it was still an OCD crutch. I relied on it for reassurance when self-doubt from my OCD consumed me.
It’s been 6+ years since I last used a dash-cam in my car. As of two months ago, the dash-cam is back in my life, but this time, it is not for my OCD. I bought a new dash-cam for my husband to use during his long trips to the big city. I was hesitant at first to buy a dash-cam, for that I was afraid I would become dependent on a dash-cam again for my OCD.
I have not used the dash-cam for my OCD, yet. In fact, the dash-cam has been sitting on my desk since last week. I’ve been driving without having the need to have it in the car. I don’t want it in the car! To be honest, I want to conquer my OCD all by myself and thus far, I’ve been doing pretty good at overcoming my driving anxiety. It just takes confidence and practice. 🙂
Take Away From This Post
In case there was too much blah-blah-blah talk, I just want to say, no matter what point you are at on your OCD journey….
“If only we were rich,”….my husband says to me every week; seriously, every week!
Personally, I am happily content with Life. I enjoy sipping coffee in the early morning on the outdoor patio overlooking the blissful countryside. I have a roof (a very nice roof, even though its a rented roof) over my head, a clean porcelain pot to do my business in (I should know, I clean it), money in my pocket (seriously, a penny), clothes on my back (a few holes, but its okay), a working car to take me from point A to point B, (even though we’re totally buried upside down in it); but, best of all, I have an amazing happy family who I enjoy making memories with everyday, (even if they are a bit dramatic sometimes)!
Sure, I work hard everyday, sometimes having to do things I don’t want to do (like scrub my husband’s toilet) or things I shouldn’t have to do (like negotiating my husbands debts from a time long before me). Sometimes I am overwhelmed, exhausted, and completely under-appreciated, but everything I do, I do for my family and I love it. Okay, I am human, so there are times I do vent and complain about having to do “everything,” but in the end, I am still grateful and happy.
My happiness comes from gratitude. I am so lucky and extremely grateful to have the opportunity to stay home with my kids and watch them grow. I am grateful for all the material things (even if they aren’t casted in gold) in my life that my husband works so hard to provide for us. I am grateful for all the people in my life, even those just passing by, for each and every one of them has some lesson to teach me. I am grateful for all the wonderful adventures I have with my family. I am grateful for so many things, big and small, I think that is why I am so happily content with life.
It doesn’t matter where or how we live, how much money is or isn’t in our pockets, or how fancy or not fancy our lifestyles are; happiness is what we make it.
Without Gratitude, Comes On Misery
My husband’s life is simple. He goes to work, comes home, eats dinner, then plays video games until 3-4am, takes a shower, goes to bed, and then repeats (kind of like shampoo). He has no responsibilities, except provide a paycheck and handle the occasional drama with his ex for visitations with his other kids. Other than that, I’d expect life to be pretty much dandy. I mean, his life is nowhere as stressful and chaotic as mine….
Whereas, I, well, frankly, the list is too long to blog. Basically, I run the entire household (like a 1950’s housewife), but I am also the handy man who fixes appliances and plunges toilets, remembers to reprogram clocks, pays the bills in a timely manner, coordinates appointments for everyone written in a torn and colored on planner, cleans and maintains the cars; all while making sure our kids are clean, happy, healthy, and enjoying life, and that I am semi-functional fueled by coffee.
It’s no easy task being a busy housewife and mom, especially, with a husband who is just as messy as the rest of the troops. He doesn’t throw his trash away, is a snacker who doesn’t finish his dinner (wasting food), leaves a trail of dirty clothes on the floor, never flushes his toilet, and leaves body hair all over the bathroom (his body hair falls out like he was exposed to radiation or something). Simply, my husband doesn’t exactly help me around the house.
Yet, everyday, he comes home to a clean house, hot food on the table, and a ready-to-go gaming chair.
I am not complaining though. You should see him try to work a wrench. It’s painful. My point is, that after all that I tackle on a daily basis, I am still happily content with Life. However, my husband who has little to no adult responsibilities is completely miserable. He absolutely hates his life. In short, he has this idea that he “should” (terrible word) be rich by now. The worst part, is that he is waiting until he becomes rich before he starts “living” his life (you know enjoying it).
The Duck Farm Dream
There is no telling what goes on inside my husband’s brain, but as far as I can gather, he is disappointed that his past debts (from his previous relationship many, many, moons ago) is preventing him from achieving his goal of becoming a duck farmer. Yes, a “duck” farmer!
A few years ago, I allowed my husband to get a duck. One duck! Well, one duck, became two ducks (because, how silly of me, they need friends), eventually became 20 something ducks, a rooster, and 3 geese, plus, one severely injured wild duck my husband brought home from the park, who we successfully mended back to health. It was suppose to be a fun little hobby to get my husband out of the house (away from the video games) and soak up some vitamin D. Apparently, he really liked raising ducks. Unfortunately for my husband, a great (couldn’t pass up) job opportunity took us back to the bustling city.
Money Can’t Buy Total Happiness
My husband thinks if he can just win the lottery, all his dreams would come true. Frankly, money can’t buy total happiness and here is why?
Although money can buy material things that bring happiness, it is only temporary happiness. Money cannot sustain long term happiness, especially, if you are spending money on materialistic things to bring you happiness.
I mean think about it… You see something you really really want, thinking it could solve all your troubles and bring you total happiness. You finally get it, but after awhile, it doesn’t bring you the same amount of joy or happiness as it once did in the beginning. Then, you go out to look for something else that you think will bring you happiness again, and the cycle repeats itself. That isn’t happiness, that is wasting money for temporary happiness.
And sure, winning the lottery or being granted with a gracious inheritance is great, but what happens when the money runs out? (sadly, free money like that, does run out)
I tried to explain to my husband, that if he was granted with enough money to pay off all his debt and buy a farm, he still has to think about how he is going to afford his dream long after the money runs out. Because you can’t afford a luxurious Mercedes-Benz (a car on his wish-list) just by selling duck eggs. My husband is a black and white thinker (I blame his Asperger’s) and rarely see’s the whole picture.
But wait, there is more….
Money cannot buy happiness, but it can provide security, so long as you manage it properly. Feeling financially secure is a step towards happiness, because let’s be real here, everyone wants financial security. However, if you hadn’t learned anything from your prior financial mistakes, you’ll likely end up in debt all over again. Back to square one!
So yeah, money can solve financial problems (temporarily), but it can’t buy total happiness, unless you are like Scrooge McDuck who loves shinny coins. Then, maybe money in a physical sense can bring total happiness.
Don’t Put Happiness On Hold Until Rome Is Built
My husband is extremely impatient. Although I tell him Rome was not built in a day, he expects Rome on a silver-plater, like yesterday. Basically, we aren’t achieving his farm goals fast enough, thus delaying a life-time of happiness.
Rome took forever to build and this is why it is important to appreciate the small stuff and enjoy life now, rather than wait until all your dreams have come true. Like I often tell my husband, “if you want Rome built in a day, you better find a better contractor;” basically saying, if you don’t like my game plan to achieving our goals, then I suggest you figure out another game plan.
There is way more to happiness than just having a comfortable bank account, a fancy materialistic lifestyle, and achieving all your goals. Happiness is loving life as it is, making the best of every situation, appreciating the small stuff you do have, enjoying the company of others, and being grateful for all of life’s experiences and adventures (good or bad). Happiness is what we make it! Happiness is living life.