Of all the goals in life, happiness might be the most universal. Who doesn’t want to be happy? But it also can be an elusive goal, and it can be hard to define exactly what it means to be happy.
Dr. Russ Harris offers a realistic definition of happiness as “living a rich, full and meaningful life in which we feel the full range of human emotions.”He also cites the following three happiness myths that, if we believe them, can actually make it more difficult for us to achieve happiness:
Happiness is the natural state for human beings. (In reality, it’s natural for our emotions to change continually, just like the weather.)
Happiness is feeling good. (But how long does the state of feeling-good really last?)
If you’re not happy, there’s something wrong with you. (Life is difficult. It’s normal to not be happy all the time.)
As caregivers, we often feel that our happiness depends on whether our loved one is happy or unhappy. We certainly understand how quickly things can change from happiness to difficulty, and we constantly experience a wide range of human emotions. It’s important to realize that it’s normal to feel this way, but we also must remind ourselves that our happiness is our own, and wedeserve happiness just as much as anyone else.
So here’s a simple prescription that can help get you on your way to happiness:
Make time for meaningful relationships outside your caregiver role. By connecting with friends and family, you reduce isolation and loneliness.
Rely on your tribe – friends, family, faith, community – to help share the care and provide you with much-needed physical and emotional breaks.
Visualize your “happy place” that brings you happiness.
Find your flow. Recognize those caregiver tasks that align with your strengths, and make time for personal daily tasks that provide a sense of accomplishment.
Enjoy hugs, laughter and other ways of connecting with real, live people to calm anxiety and increase feelings of peace and calm.
Here’s to your happiness!