Guest Author - Cynthia Parker
Finding happiness – real happiness – as a single parent seems to be a quality that eludes many. Yet is it something for which we all should strive. What does it take to be happy?
I had a discussion with a close friend yesterday and we came up with an analysis of life. As we travel through life, we are constantly traveling towards the horizon. Since the earth is round, that horizon is continually moving away from us as we attempt to move toward it. We will never – no, never – achieve that horizon. So how does satisfaction – and happiness – become achieved if we can never obtain that horizon?
Quite simply, it comes from the journey. My friend is a rather unfulfilled, unhappy person. For her, the landscape between her and the horizon is a desert. The only thing she sees in front of her are miles and miles of dry, hot, dusty sand. There are no oases. Life, for her, is not a pleasant journey.
This may be true for some of you. Or maybe you are one of those who sees all that sand, but scattered here and there you find an oasis. There are moments, perhaps even long moments, of true happiness and you wish that there were more.
It is necessary for us to face a few facts about ourselves if we want to find happiness in life.
1 – Our happiness is our responsibility.
That’s right, ladies and gentleman. No one else in this whole entire world can make us happy if we don’t want to be happy. Not your children – though I do know that they can make you smile! Not a romantic partner. Not a family member. Not a job. Not a close friend. Not a drug. Not anything. YOU have to claim your responsibility for your happiness and then develop a plan to achieve it.
2 – Happiness is a state of mind.
It is. I am currently unhappy in my job. I recently whined that I felt those for whom I work were recently unhappy with me in my job. Well guess what? They could perceive that I was not happy, which made them uncomfortable. Thus, they were not happy with me in the office. I decided that what I needed to do was be happy where I am, with what I have, and if I really can’t live with something, then it is up to me to change it. If it means that I have to get another job, then I need to get off my duff and do it! But if it means that I simply need to change my attitude, then I need to work on that. It’s my decision, my state of mind. What am I – and you – going to do with it?
3 – Happiness is contagious.
Ever watched how people’s faces change when you smile, say “hello”, or wave to them. Okay, some of them give you a sour look or act shocked, but still, their faces change. Many of them smile back. When I first came to work on my present job, there was a gentleman with whom I work that NEVER smiled. Never. He was always uptight, nervous and worrisome. I made it a point to smile at him and say something positive every time I saw him. Now I am NOT taking credit for the change in his demeanor, especially since I know that there have been changes in his life, too, but over time, that man started to smile back at me, share normal chit-chat, and even a laugh or two! Yes, he made a decision to make changes in his life that helped him to find his own happiness, but I hope that my smiles were contagious enough that they at least set him off on that road.
4 – Make a plan.
Happiness isn’t going to knock on your door and ask to come in. (A good job, a good man or woman, or a good car will not either!) If you want it, then you better be prepared to go out there and find it. Start small – perhaps your local library has a book club that you want to join. At the local library, they usually schedule a children’s reading group at the same time so that parents can attend one and the children the other. (And if your library doesn’t have such, suggest it! It’s up to you!) You can read a good book and make new friends as you discuss it with others. As you claim the small pieces of happiness, start planning for larger ones. Let them fall into place – and don’t get discouraged if one or two don’t pan out exactly as you planned. That’s life – we are not going to succeed in everything. The failure is in refusing to try!
Want happiness? Then go get some! Just because you are a single parent, with the weight of the world on your shoulders, does not mean that you cannot have your happiness, too. Claim it!
Build oases on your desert. Allow them to spread until you have small forests. Allow those to grow until you turn that desert into a fertile, fruitful landscape thriving with life. Then travel the road to your horizon in happiness!