Every December, I choose a word or phrase to set the tone for the upcoming year. In the past, I have said, “This is my year of consistency” or ” A year of taking chances” or “My year to grow, professionally and personally.” For 2019, I chose “happiness” as my word. When faced with a choice, I ask myself, “Will doing this make me happy or make me money (which intrinsically makes me happy)?” If the answer is no, I make the conscious decision to skip it.
To be clear, there are certain things that don’t make me happy, but I still have to do them, like laundry. In that case, I think about how happy I will be when the laundry is finished. Maybe the act of doing laundry doesn’t make me happy, but having all the laundry washed, dried, folded and put away makes me feel joyful and accomplished, so I choose to do it.
This is more about when faced with a choice like, “Should I chaperone that field trip?” Will it make me happy to sit on a bus with 30 middle schoolers and have to listen to girl drama? No? Then I choose to decline and let another mom do it instead.
Does that sound selfish to you? Maybe it is a little bit, but since I have spent the past sixteen years doing things to make other people happy, I figure it is my turn to choose happiness for myself.
So many women put everyone else ahead of themselves, at the risk of neglecting their personal health and mental well being. When it got to the point where I had to choose taking a shower or doing one more thing for one more person, I knew it was time for a change.
I have always been the person who does things out of a sense of duty, not because it brings me joy. I attend parties because I think that is what everyone expects of me, not because I want to be there. I volunteer for everything because that is what a good mom would do, not necessarily because I have the time or energy to devote to it. I even majored in a particular subject in college because that is what was expected of me, the book smart, first-born child.
I have no idea why, at 41 years old, it suddenly clicked that I don’t have to do what other people want. Call it a mid-life crisis or a spiritual awakening, but it honestly hit me like a thunderbolt that life is short, time is precious and I should be happy most of the time.
So cheers to 2019, to being happy, to taking care of myself and doing things that bring joy into my life. And I won’t apologize for declining your invitations and hiding at home to read a book in my pajamas because that, my friends, is a happy, happy place for me.
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