To me, happiness is a habit. Happiness is not something that comes from external sources – ie, the whole “this made me happy today” and “this made me sad” and “this made me angry”. Yes, things happen and we sometimes feel happy, sad or angry as a first reaction – but with time and practice, we can learn to modify our inner landscape and choose how to react, help rid ourselves of stress, worry and anxiety and put in its place a sense of peace instead. Peace, to me, is the Real Deal of Happiness. Peace is that inner quality that occurs no matter what the circumstances of life surround you.
The way to this path is to choose to be happy and peaceful as your journey, as a conscious step every day, and not just viewing happiness as this elusive goal. Here are some thoughts for how to do this:
1. Practice basic meditation – Steiner has some great exercises for anthroposophical inner work and if you go here you will find the inner work of the day posted: http://www.rsarchive.org/
2. Do your best to not model worry, anxiety and guilt for your family members. I would venture to say that many of us have worried, anxious and guilty thought patterns because this is what was modeled to us as children. It is an easy thing to pass on to the next generation.
3. Limit your hurrying: being hurried and overscheduled can lead quickly to feeling overwhelmed, guilt-ridden and anxiety-ridden. As homeschoolers, many of us could be so booked with activities we could be out of the house every day, morning, afternoon, and night. Pick and choose and realize that homeschooling can be about, and should be about, being in your home.
4. Religious practices can provide peace – easy to knock it until you try it and create a practice. Many people are very cynical regarding organized religion, but I urge you to investigate this if this is a stumbling block for you. Find the religious path that works for you and work at it. Certain faiths, such as the Catholic faith and the Episcopal faith, have a “Daily Office” where prayers are said at certain times of the day – this can be a very grounding experience to help you focus your attention off of yourself and onto something higher. To my Orthodox readers, does this also exist in the Orthodox Church as well?
5. Exercise. Walk, bike, swim, take the time to go to the gym if you have the financial luxury to be able to afford a gym, walk on some nature trails, do some yoga. Make this a priority for yourself and for your children. This is very important for dealing with depression and anxiety, and to help feel more peaceful.
6. Re-frame how you look at things, and how you say things. Watch your words like the pearls you are, because the words you say are the reality for your children.
7. Forge as close and intimate a relationship as you can with your spouse or partner. Your children are NOT a substitute for the intimacy you should be experiencing with your adult partner, and your children will be better for it to see this wonderful, healthy relationship between two adults who can laugh and have fun together. Having this relationship as a bedrock in your life will provide you with peace!
I think creating a habit of happiness for your inner work is this coming school year is very important. I hear so many mothers who tell me up and down how fortunate they are to be able to be home during this economy, how they like being a stay-at-home mother but yet all they do is complain about their husbands, their homes, their weight and body image, their children’s behavior and themselves.
Stop complaining; choose peace and happiness instead. Start with yourself in small steps and model this for your spouse and your children; you may be surprised with the wonderful results!