Saturday, February 2, 2013

Six Secrets of Happiness

Frequently when expectant parents are asked if they want a boy or a girl

They say - "I dont care - as long as its normal and healthy "

But some of us, like me, we don't get that normal child

And instead of being the end of joy like we thought it was

It can become the  beginning of it

Like it did for me.

No- my child is not closer to god (or atleast not more so than any other child ), or possessing of some special gifts ( or atleast not more so than any other child )

And yet I most days , I am happy

Some days because of what happens , some days in spite of what happens

One  of the gifts of autism has been that it has made me examine happiness - the hows and whys of it

Here are some of my happiness insights .

I hope they will be helpful to you

Secret 1: Choose to be happy  

Bear with me here -you could say - well-what-if-you-were-being-tortured-by-a-serial-killer-could-you-then-choose-to-be-happy?????

I would answer - no perhaps happiness is not a choice in that very specific situation

But, barring exceptions - most times, we can in fact, choose to be happy

Even  a day like today - when my car broke down, work basically involved taking 2 steps forward and 4 steps backward, my son vomited which means his tummy troubles are back , I found out that I really could not get out of that cell-phone plan - there were plenty of good things too.

What I focus on determines how I feel

Secret 2: Using exaggerated positive words and not exaggerated negative words

How many times do we use language like

"The presentation was a disaster"
 I could have died of shame"
"I made a total fool of myself"
"Those moms must  think I am such an idiot"
"How do I keep gaining pounds back again - I have  zero will power"
"I am so stressed"
"My head is going to explode"

In this way, we interpret and describe our experiences and our life to ourselves

.For instance,  for some people talking about their stress helps them.

For me, it often adds an additional layer of stress ( from thinking about  being stressed )

I try to watch my words and not exaggerate the negative and give it so much power.

Secret 3: Experience life don't perform in it

When you think of your life- think about trying to experience it with joy.

Don't think about how well you are performing in life in your various roles as a woman/wife/mother /manager etc

My friends and I often talk about the to-do list that we all seem to have running in our heads

The project to complete , the next hill to take,  that IEP to modify  , that kitchen to clean,

And yet , surely we were put on earth to do more than lose weight and clean kitchens?

Even when those chores are necessary, its so  important to not define myself by how well we  are doing.

Secret 3: The secret of positive thinking to think negatively in the short term

Expecting things to go wrong and thinking of that as normal is one of my main ways of being positive

I know its very counterintuitive but try this today

Expect that every other thing that you do will not go as planned

The thing we should visualize with positive thinking - is that when things go wrong ( for they surely will)..we will be okay with it !

Secret 4: The Secret

A few years ago a book came out "The Secret"

 Everybody talked about the laws of attraction and how by thinking of good things the universe would send those things your way

Its also one of those seductive theories that are impossible to disprove

If something good happens - Guess what? You attracted it with all those positive thoughts

If  something bad happens? - well clearly you were not positive enough !

I don't believe in the secret - but for far  off things we have no control over - I think it kind of works

For one, its no good worrying about far off things

And for another it changes our behavior.

And that can change  the outcome

Secret 5 : Practicing Gratitude

Think of yourself as lucky and blessed.

 If you know where your next few meals are coming from - you are luckier than a 3rd of the world.

The problem is that we usually tend to compare with those who seem more fortunate than us

The other day we were discussing an article about how Facebook can lead to feeling depressed

For special needs mums - it can be special stab in the heart

As our friends post about their perfect children - we wonder how we started the same way and then went on these separate paths

A friend had this insight that people only post about the perfect bits of their life and maybe in reality their real lives are different than their facebook lives

While that is true to an extent, I think it is very likely  that some people have it easier than us ( just as some others have it harder than us )

But the point is not how much better or worse we are doing than someone else

The point is really how we feel about ourselves and our life.

And practicing Gratitude

Secret 6 : Happiness takes practice

Most people think of happiness as a result of some event

But I feel that happiness is a practice .

Neurologists  says "Neurons that fire together, wire together "

Every time you walk down a neurological path thinking thoughts like "I am grateful" Life is good", you make it easier to walk down that path again

The world is a very good place. It is also frequently quite an awful place

Ditto with people

But I try to be the sort of person that say life is mostly good and most  people are basically nice.

In this way, I frame my life to be the sort of life feels  good to be in

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Hi I am Floortime mama and I blog about love, life and autism at Floortime Lite Mama


  1. I love this: "Happiness is practice".

    Another trick for me - is surrounding yourself with others who do all those things you listed above. In which case, it means you and I really need to get together :)

    I have seen this lived out... and been so blessed to spend happy time with you and your family. I see so much of your happiness in what you value (and those were your two well-loved boys).

  2. Rach my darling - thank you and we absolutely must meet

  3. "Practicing happiness"..I love it too.