Usually I write about things that I think are more so geared toward moms, but this one applies to everyone across the board.
Lately I’ve been considering what makes people happy and successful- two really broad topics. I feel like I’m really happy in my life, but I have so many dreams inside me, things that I talk about and some that I don’t. I identified some “killers of happiness” and figured I would sort of start unraveling them. All of my ideas comes from how I would parent my kids, but somehow I have to also constantly remind myself.
First of all:
Other people can be happy or successful, and it has nothing to do with you.
One thing that I have noticed is how much people compare themselves to others or judge where they are based on the progress of other people.
My son is an incredible learner. Reading and math come easy to him. He often scores 100’s on everything he does. Last week he scored a 97% because he forgot to capitalize the first letter of the sentence. The first thing he said to me wasn’t that he was annoyed that he forgot the capital letter, it was that he was annoyed that his friend hadn’t.
Literally who cares what your friend did?!
See, I had to explain to him to focus on personal growth. That what mattered was how he did compared to last quiz and whether or not he includes the capital on next week’s quiz.
And then it hit me. WE ALL DO THIS. WHYYYY?
This is something that I have gotten way better with over time, but I have to tell my thoughts where to stick it. Other people can be happy or successful, and it has nothing to do with me.
I’m going to be a bit harsh here:
If you are not happy for other people’s happiness and success then you are the problem.
Social media allows us to see how everyone we have ever known is doing. It is so cool, but it has the tendency to document growth or lack there of.
I have a friend named Raya from elementary school who is living a dream life- traveling the world with her boyfriend, reading about goddesses and women’s empowerment, going to festivals and dancing the night away. That is not my life- but MY GOD, I am overrrrr the moon for her. Do I want to ditch my kids, move to southern California, and grow out my arm pit hair? No, not really. But, her happiness brings me joy from afar and I love seeing it.
ANDDD she empowers me! She writes to me about what a Queen I am for being such a great mommy to my babies. We chose two different paths and yet we still lift each other up when it would be so easy to be a naysayer.
There is another girl I know from high school! Her name’s Jordan! I remember seeing her working out at the YMCA next to me in like 2009. Now she makes a living on her social media empire, influencing others on work outs and living a healthy lifestyle. Do I work out? Nope. Do I do her challenges? Big nope. Do I follow her anyway? Yep. I love to see her growth and success, like, yesssssss, girl. Do big things! Who knows! Maybe one day I’ll start working out again! Guess who I’ll call!
Be happy for other people. Their success and happiness is their own, and it has nothing to do with you. Support people and lift them up. If it’s their budding photography business, their college class, or their 30 days anniversary being sober- whatever! Be supportive!
Stop being annoyed at someone else’s life or glory. It says something about you and your personal opinion of your own journey if you are unable to find joy in seeing other people live their dreams out. You get back what you give out in the world. Don’t be the person worried that someone else remembered their capital letter and you didn’t. Worry about yourself and be glad for others.
Know your strengths and play to them.
What a simple thought. I heard my husband tell this to our son the other day. He was all pissy that he didn’t score a goal on the soccer pitch. Guess what? He’s a center back. Scoring goals isn’t his job. Will he get a chance now and then? Sure. But, his talent is being a big, bad defender.
Not that he can’t decide he wants to be a striker and start working at it. But, every day for the last two years, he’s been practicing being a defender.
I’ll be the first to tell you, I am NOT a math person. I recently found loads of trig and precalc work I saved from high school, why? I was probably REALLY proud. HAHA. I have to work really hard at math to get it. But you know what comes naturally? This. I sit down with my coffee and start banging it out. Do I need practice? Yep. Am I still learning? You bet. But, I don’t have to pull my hair out to get an idea on the paper.
Tim Notke said, “hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.”
Figure out what you’re good at and work on it. If you don’t know, make a list and narrow it down- Runaway Bride style. Get to know yourself. You can’t be annoyed if you aren’t living out a dream that you haven’t put grind into.
God gave everyone talents, and if you find out what yours are and use them to your advantage, you’ll taste the fruits of your labor. But you can’t just sit there and wait for an opportunity to come find you.
And what if an opportunity DOES come, and you haven’t been cultivating your craft for your moment to prove yourself?
Share your ideas with people.
The other day a mom messaged me asking advice about breastfeeding. Here’s the thing- I’ve put in my time in this arena. I kind of know what I’m talking about. But to be honest, I only know what worked for me and MY kids. Do you know what that means? I’m not an expert on what’s going to work for you and your kid. The only thing I can do is share my trial and errors, what worked for me and what didn’t work for me. Like, I don’t KNOW everything- but here’s what I’ve gathered so far.
When I first started teaching, my department head, Bonnie Watkins, was the business. I had no idea what I was doing and I was SO SCARED I was going to be the reason students didn’t learn. Do you know what? She made me copies of everything she had, and she shared EVERYTHING with me. Why would she do that? I didn’t deserve all of this help. I hadn’t put the time in to be able to use all of these resources. I kind of felt guilty taking them from her. After all, they were hers. The resources were a result of her time and effort throughout many years of teaching.
I finally just asked her, “Why would you give me all of these resources?”
Her response is one that I replay often in my head.
“If I give you everything I know- it forces me to keep learning. The day I stop giving out my resources, I am saying I don’t want to grow anymore.”
Freaking WOW. What a poised response.
Do you get it? If you share everything you know, it requires that you learn more and grow more.
Not only that, but she wanted me to be successful. She didn’t want to see me fail.
What a blessing to be that person for someone.
And, by the way, this reinforces the idea that you are your own competition. What a way to live! Share your ideas so you can make other people better and force growth upon yourself so you can be better, too.
Mind your words.
It’s self fulfilling prophecy, people! Self fulfilling prophecy is by definition a prediction that causes itself to be true. The mind is a powerful vessel. If you are constantly telling yourself that you aren’t good enough, then your mind actually believes it.
In the book Start, by Jon Acuff, he talks about the negative voices that everyone has, the parts of our brain that list all the reasons that we can’t accomplish something. It encourages writing them down and proving them wrong. THEN, telling people you love about them. He states, “…never waste time trying to battle a voice alone. In some cases that voice or fear and doubt will have had a ten year start on you.” GEEZE, that’s powerful.
You mean to tell me, I have to battle a negative thought that I’ve had for years?
This morning I scribbled down on a paper, “Your blog sucks.”
Then I wrote- LOL, “Well, it doesn’t, does it? I’m not even done yet.”
It actually really helped me to poke fun at my negative ideas before they could snow ball into something significant in my mind.
You see, the other day my first grade son said, “I don’t have weaknesses.” (Boy is he in for a shock! HAHA) But, at the minute, he really believes it. What an incredible thought that at one point, we all believed there was nothing that we couldn’t do. And then what’s so sad, is one day we were “intelligent” enough to know better.
I really would love to be an author one day. My husband and I joke that it could happen! Am I an author right now? Nope. But, why not? Why is that somehow not in the cards for me? 7 year old me would really have words for 27 year old me. “What do you mean? You don’t have weaknesses! Go for it!.”
Your words matter- but so do the words and actions of the people you love.
One day my husband shared one of my blogs and no one liked it… except me (AWKWARDDD.) BUT, I shared with him that my blog had 107 more views because he shared it AND someone private messaged me saying it helped them. When I told him that, he was stunned! How come no one liked it?! I don’t have that answer. BUT, now he shares every single one of my mushy-gushy-pro-mom-agenda blogs on his manly facebook page where the literal only other thing he posts is facts about Lebron James. My blogs don’t really mesh with the theme. BUT, He believes in my dream. God love him, he’s the best there is. He knows that what he says and does matters- if only to me- and it becomes a part of my reality.
Words are so important. What if we told our kids, “No, Jaxon. Sorry- you’re flawed and not good enough. You DO have weaknesses. That dream is going to be really impossible for you.” What would that do to his spirit? You would never say something like that to your children. I’d like to think no one would.
Why do you allow your thoughts to speak to you that way?
It just isn’t true. Not for Jaxon and not for me and not for you.
Words are critical- choose them wisely.
Today I could have said to myself, “No, my friend. You write mom blogs- stay in your lane.”
I didn’t! I wrote what I wanted. I feel so much better for it.