When I was growing up, one of my favorite things to do was to play Mad Libs.
If you aren’t familiar, Mad Libs is a word template game that prompts you to substitute words in the story resulting in a humorous and very silly tale, like this:
“One day, a __________ went to ________ and __________ a ______.”
name of animal place past-tense verb noun
Mad Libs has certainly stood the test of time as it is just as popular today as it was in 1977. However, Mad Libs can lose their appeal as sometimes those stories are neither humorous or silly. Our lives can be a little like that – especially when we are in the midst of parenting tweens-to-teens.
Often when I speak with parents, the topic of following our own dreams and finding our happy comes up. Everyone gets really excited about starting a business, skydiving, traveling to India and then it stops. The next responses sound a lot like this: “This sounds absolutely amazing to me, BUT….” That big but is typically followed with a “I have to do/be/see/work, so I can pay mortgage/care for my family/take a trip/be successful…” It’s like excuse-themed Mad Libs. All you have to do is insert your excuse, justification, and lack of momentum and responsibility to fill in the blanks.
It’s enough to drive a person, well, mad. However, these people are on the right track regarding one thing. There is a blank they have to fill in, and the caption for that blank reads “your happiness.” It can be absolutely anything you want. (Cool note >> If for any reason what you have inserted into the blank doesn’t make you happy, change it.)
For example, for many years I worked at a job where I was miserable. I would dread waking up each morning. Often, I would wish for a cold or a flu bug so I could stay home. It was a horrible feeling. However, I felt I didn’t have a choice. I was young and “needed” the job to pay my monthly rent. Many years later, the same thing happened in my marriage. I felt I didn’t have a choice in our happiness, my happiness.
In both cases, most people said, “well, just stick it out a little longer. Things could be worse. Work at the job until something better comes along. Stay even if you are unhappy. You have to do it for the kids.” So, you know what I did? I stayed…for awhile. And, then I didn’t.
There is no situation that absolutely requires you to stay in it – society, religion, certain beliefs may tell you there is, but really there isn’t. If you really want to change, you can do it at any time, because at you are responsible for your own happiness. Let me repeat that.
You are responsible for your own happiness.
If there is something in your life causing you pain, only you can fix it. If you don’t like the person you are now, then you are responsible for changing. If when you envision your ideal self and then say “but I can’t,” you are willingly making yourself a victim. If you really want something, there are no true barriers. Hardships, yes, but you can endure temporary hardships a lot easier than a life of unfulfilled dreams.
So, why am I telling you all this? Because your children deserve a happy you…YOU deserve a happy you. A happy you creates the space and the mold for a happy them.
How would you fill in these blank for finding your happy? Is it a project, a trip, a business … something more? How would it affect you to find and follow your happy? How would it affect your children?