Ever feel like you’ve lost that deep happy feeling? I have. Here’s what happened to me, what I learnt, and how you too can reclaim your “inner happy”.
Checkout this radio interview I recorded about “how to get your happy back”.
The bright early-morning springtime light filtered in through the window. My jangled brain struggled to place the day, the time. I lay there, opening my eyes slowly, adjusting to the brightness, and not feeling very happy. It felt like it should be Saturday. I really hoped it was Saturday.
I gathered the energy to lean up on my elbow and glance at the clock. Noooo! 7:30! It couldn’t be!
With a flood, the memory of my night-time hours came back. My toddler had been up most of the night with a bad cold. He was teething. Every time he dropped into a sound sleep his red, stuffy nose blocked up, and he’d wake. Crying. Again.
I hadn’t slept properly until 5am, when I’d flopped into bed exhausted, praying he would sleep, and I’d wake up in time to get my older children off to school.
And, thankfully, I had woken in time. Just.
I leapt out of bed, wondering why on earth my husband hadn’t woken me up.
“What’s going on!” I yelled.
We had a big day coming. A hearing screening test for the baby; a coffee with a friend later for a catch-up; parent-teacher interviews after school; and tonight, some friends over for dinner. So, while it looked like a humdrum “day off work”, there was a lot going on, especially when my happy toddler had turned into a grumpy monster.
Storming into the kitchen I glared at my husband who was calmly getting breakfast sorted.
“Why didn’t you wake me up!”
A ridiculous thing to say really, but all my brain was capable of just then.
He gave some wimp-ish response like, “I thought I’d let you sleep-in a bit.”
I ran around the house to find out where everyone was up to. Total chaos.
We were running a good half hour late – for everything.
Where had my happy gone?
Later, I sat in the car driving to the baby’s hearing test, and reflected on the morning. We’d arrived at school as the bell went. Phew! But it wasn’t without a few yelling matches in the kitchen, some tears, a broken plate, whinges about what was going into lunch boxes, and the inevitable last minute Grade Four homework, to be handed in TODAY.
That was all to be expected, considering the lousy start. But what was pulling me up short was how miserable I felt. I knew I was overtired, but my inner heart was weary. I’m usually a happy sort of person, but I felt I had lost something that day.
The kids were all on edge too. I’d heard other mothers talk about how their children reflected their own moods, but never really noticed that happen with us. Until then.
It was time to pray and ask for help!
I thought back . . .
I remembered similar mornings of chaos when I was a preschooler. My older sisters left home very early to catch a train to high school, an hour’s journey away. After some weeks of morning bedlam, Dad intervened, and suggested my younger sister and I stay in bed until after 7am.
Most of all, I reflected, I remembered my mother singing in a happy sort of way. Everywhere she went, she hummed a tune. Except sometimes she didn’t, and then you knew something was up.
She had lost her inner happy.
Driving along, I was close to tears as I realized, I too had lost my inner happy. And not just that. The kids had lost theirs as well. And it wasn’t the way I ever wanted them to start a day at school.
Annoyingly, the tears flowed while I was driving. My children had a bad start to their day. All because of me.
How to Reclaim Your Inner Happy
It took me a while to reclaim my inner sense of happy. I had to stop and think. I had to let go of some things and make some choices. Quite suddenly one afternoon, a few days later, I discovered myself singing a tune! That was a nice feeling. So I’ve learnt now. . .
There will be something in this list you can do to help claim your sense of happy back. Most likely, not all these suggestions will appeal to you, because it depends on your personality type. The most important thing is to decide to think about the good stuff. Your emotions will eventually follow. Here’s what to do to reclaim your inner happy .
1. Keep Calm, It’s Just a Phase
Losing your inner happy is pretty normal, and happens to everyone at some stage. The good thing is that it will get better. It is possible to reclaim your inner happy. For me, a good sleep made a lot of difference. As a sleep-deprived mother it makes so much difference if you can catch up! Thankfully, the next night my husband was on toddler-teething duty.
He and I often refer to difficult times like this as “phases”. This was a particularly demanding one, but like all phases, it soon ended. It’s so easy to get caught up in the details of daily life, and forget the bigger picture. There’s a long-term view to stay aware of. A teething child is a small blip in the context of the journey to adulthood. So, stay calm. Keep things in perspective. Things will start looking up soon. Don’t worry – be happy!
But what if things don’t start looking up? What if life continues to be like this, day after weary day? You might be depressed. Everyone has low moments, no doubt. But if you find yourself in a place where you’re adjusting your lifestyle around your moods, then depression is possible, and medical help could be the next step. There’s no shame in going to your Doctor to talk this through. It’s better for your family, and more importantly for you, to have someone assist you professionally. Plus, you will feel a whole lot better!
2. Dump the bad stuff
Your sense of “happy” will not magically return unless you do something about it. If this is just a temporary low, sometimes all you need is somewhere safe to dump the awful, toxic thinking. And it has to be said, it is good to let the bad stuff out. Writing it all down is another way to reclaim your inner happy. Talking to someone about the issue is the other option.
2a) WRITING – safe, effective ranting to reclaim your inner happy
Before talking to someone about it, try writing it down
It’s great to have a notebook or journal for this purpose. It’s not to be read by others – and you don’t even have to go back to it yourself. You can mouth-off, write down bad things, offload, and download all those terrible thoughts to get them off your chest. Writing it down relieves your head space so you can think more clearly. You can vent, and let it out, in a safe space.
When you are writing, ask yourself these questions . . .
When was the last time I felt happy?
What happened for me to lose that happy feeling?
What does it feel like when I am in a happy mood?
After you have offloaded by writing, THEN talk it out.
2b) TALKING – carefully select your listener
Often our close friends and loved ones get an outburst
That’s okay, but let them know you just need to offload, and ask them to simply listen while you get things off your chest. At this point you don’t want advice. All you want is a listener. Read here about the importance of finding a friend. There are some friends who are okay to take this sort of ear-bashing, and others who cannot. You need someone who will not gossip! So pick your audience wisely. Your partner is a good person to turn to.
These moments are great stress-relievers, and great ways to reclaim you inner happy.
I’ve also discovered that someone who understands your motherhood journey is a good find, especially when you want to reclaim your inner happy. If, like me, your mother or grandmother are not there for you, there will be a grandma figure you know, and there is the always the infant welfare nurse!
What’s the risk?
The risk, of course, is that a dump on someone else may injure your relationship – especially if you tell them something rash like you’re “ready to walk out on your family”; or that you could “throttle them all”! Of course, you don’t mean that. But it can sound like it sometimes. And if you do really mean it, then please go get professional help before things get worse.
3. Eat Properly
This is not a time to hunt the cupboard for that hidden chocolate. Or that packet of half-eaten chips. Sugar and/or carb highs are your enemy right now. Because the immediate burst of feel-goodness doesn’t last. And all you want to do is eat more. Break the cycle by not even starting!
Instead, go for fresh fruit and vegetables, stir-fry’s, and good quality protein. Just do it.
4. Find some space
- Go to the bathroom, shut the door, let the tears flow if you have to. Scream into a towel. Take some deep breaths. Pray God will sustain you. He will.
- Sort things out so you can go lie down. Even a 5-minute power nap could make all the difference.
- Once the house is quiet in the evening, have a bath (or a hot shower) with some nice fragrant oils, relaxing music, and breathe slowly. Focus on calming your mind down, and settling your spirit. Choose to be happy. Pray.
5. Go for a Walk
Taking time in the fresh air and sunshine can make all the difference. Go on your own, or take the kids. Being outside can be very invigorating. And it’s also good to spend time appreciating creation around you.
6. Wait, with Patience
Time is a great healer, and to reclaim your inner happy, sometimes all you can do is wait. If you’ve lost your happy because you are grieving the loss of someone or something, then be easy on yourself. It can take a while.
But know this: It WILL get better.
7. Bring in the Big Guns Pray for HELP!
While it is always tempting to sort out this sort of thing on your own, actually, prayer and talking to God is a key fix-me-up. Jesus didn’t call His Spirit “the Comforter” for nothing. He knows all about you, and wants to be with you through this. Ask, seek, knock. He will be your helper.
But when the Father sends the Comforter instead of me—and by the Comforter I mean the Holy Spirit—he will teach you much, as well as remind you of everything I myself have told you.
8. Lastly . . . Decide
In the end, you are the only person who can work on your attitude and reclaim your inner happy. No one else is responsible for your emotions. You have a choice! You can have success by taking hold of your emotions, and claiming your happy back. Choosing your thought life is so important. In her book Battlefield of the Mind, Joyce Meyer says “Whatever we focus on, we become.” This is so true.
“Whatever we focus on, we become”
So resolve, right now, TODAY, to think about the good things. Don’t let the bad take over. You can decide to reclaim your inner happy. Ultimately, it’s your choice.
And maybe one day, like me, you will find yourself singing again soon!
Some people say happiness does not last. And that’s true. Something will always trip us up. The question is: How do you get it back again? Do you have any hot tips about how to reclaim your inner happy?
I’d love to know what you do!