I love Christmas time, I love the focus on Christ and service and charity, the time with family, the music, the food, and having my husband home to spend time with. I do have to admit, there are some issues that come up each year at this time, though. I tend to have an idealized picture of what will happen in my mind, and I want very much to please everyone and have every family member be happy. I often take on too much of the responsibility for everyone else’s happiness and forget to take care of my own or clearly communicate what I need. And then what happens? I become not such a nice mommy. And that doesn’t make anyone happy.
My husband is pretty good at choosing happiness, and at times it has actually made me a little jealous. If he wants to chill out and watch a show, he does. If he wants to go run an errand, he does. Of course, if I want him to do something else and I ask him, he will usually do it happily. He just doesn’t wait around for me to tell him what to do. That used to make me mad, because I was waiting for him to ask me what I wanted or come up with something to do to make me happy. I was waiting for him to do what I should have been doing for myself.
This year I caught myself doing it again, and this time I actually learned some things and I’m resolved to do it differently from now on. Here’s what I realized. 1.My family does not read minds 2.I am accountable for my own happiness 3.There’s no vacation from decisions and accountability 4.I’m the only person who I can choose happiness for.
1. My family does not read minds. My husband has been trying to tell me this for years. But I still often come to them asking if they want to do such and such, not really sure if I want to do it, and then I go along but get disappointed by the end of the day because my unspoken desires for what I wanted to do were not realized. I tell myself it’s because I didn’t want to be selfish, but if I had figured out what I really wanted and expressed my wishes in a nice way, my family members would probably be happy to help, just like I try to help them. My husband especially appreciates knowing what I want.
2. I am accountable for my own happiness. When I find myself grumbling because my husband didn’t take the lead in making something happen while he is home, I have to look at myself. Did I make it happen? Did I even tell him I wanted to? Usually the answer is no. Sometimes I have allowed him to take the blame for not making things happen that I thought were important, because he is the head of the household. But I am in charge of me, and usually when that happens it is because I didn’t do anything about it, or even express to him that it was important to me. And I can always choose to be happy or at least grateful for the lessons, even if things aren’t going the way I planned.
3. Even on vacation, there’s no vacation from making decisions, or from being accountable. Either I’m choosing to act or choosing to be acted upon, but either way it is my choice. I can choose to let someone else choose for me, but that’s still my choice and responsibility. It’s up to me to know what essential things I really need to do to function happily, and make sure I do them. I found that sometimes during vacations and holidays, I ‘go with the flow’ and don’t make things happen like my personal quiet time for prayer and scripture study in the morning, even though those things are essential for me and my happiness and peace, and then I get frustrated that we’re all on such a bad schedule. Even if everyone else is sleeping in, it’s still my choice whether to get up and make that quiet time happen or choose to sleep in and snuggle longer. I get to choose what I do and then I need to love the choice, whatever it is. If I realize it wasn’t the best choice, I need to let it go and do differently the next time.
4. I’m the only person I can choose happiness for. As moms, there’s nothing we want more than for our family to be happy. Seeing our kids unhappy is very hard on us. But just like I have a choice to be happy and proactive, so do each of them. And that sometimes means that no matter how hard we work to give them good things, to show love and kindness, to teach them and protect them, they will sometimes choose things to be unhappy or do things that cause pain in their lives. I can choose to show love and patience and perseverance. But I can’t make them choose happiness. That is their choice. And the best thing I can do is to show accountability in my own life in choosing happiness, being proactive, and taking steps to create the kind of day and the kind of life I desire rather than expecting others to create it for me.
As the new year rolls around, I think this will be a big part of my new year’s resolution: I will choose happiness and take action to create it in my life. I will start by recognizing what I truly desire and not discounting it, I’ll make my desires and plans to achieve them known, and I’ll be accountable for creating joy in my life now! If life doesn’t go as planned, I will still choose happiness. It’s more fun to be happy!
Empowering Action: Think about what you really want to happen today or what you’d like in your life. Say it out loud. Take steps to create it. Don’t wait for others to offer it, choose it for you, or create it for you. Figure out what is essential for you to be happy and make it happen. Your family will thank you!