Yesterday as I was preparing Stephanie’s post about kindness and service and her cute little packages she made with her kids, I was reminded of this post that I shared on Instagram last weekend and then found myself writing out this whole other blog post that I am sharing today. Most times when I share things that are more personal in nature like I am today, it is not planned or even something I expected to share. I tend to be more private with certain things but then when I find myself prompted to share a little more, I try not to push it aside…. As you read this story you’ll see why I was even more inclined than normal to write out these feelings and to follow through with posting them. It’s a bit of my heart and I hope you don’t mind my sharing it today….
In our General Women’s Meeting of conference on Saturday we learned about choosing happiness and that true joy comes from loving and serving others. The messages shared reminded us that when we do look outside of ourselves and focus on serving others, we forget about our own misfortunes and we find that we are so much happier! This is something that I definitely need to be reminded of from time to time and like Stephanie I am also always working to teach my children this concept.
It is so easy to get lost in ourselves and to focus on the things we don’t have or the reasons we have to be unhappy. And trust me, I know, we each do have things to be upset or unhappy about! I know that my personal struggles may be light in comparison to many others that are facing much more difficult things, but I also know that each of us do have hard times and daily things we struggle with, even when it looks all perfect and happy to those on the outside looking in.
I was blessed with a glass-half-full attitude and so I believe that having a generally positive and happy outlook on life may come easier to me than it does to some others. And I also believe that because I do smile and seem happy all the time, it can often seem to others that I have the most perfect and put together life. Well, this couldn’t be further from the truth! I have moments of guilt and impatience and things that I look back on each day that I wish I had done differently or that I had been better at. I also have heartache and trials and things that are beyond my control that I have to face each and every day. Some days are good and some days I feel like I just don’t have the skills to be the mother I need to be. Each and every day I have to rely on the help of my Heavenly Father for strength and to make up the difference where I fall short.
People often say that I am smiling all the time and they ask if there are ever times that I don’t smile. And of course there are, but yes I do smile a lot and I smile at my children all the time. Every time I look at my sweet kids I want to smile at them because they make me happy and I want them to feel happy when they are with me. I even smile at strangers when I make eye contact with them because it’s my way of reaching out and sharing a bit of love and happiness I guess. So the smiling and the happiness do tend to come a bit naturally to me and I am grateful for that… but there are also plenty of days when I have to make more of an effort and remember that happiness is a choice. I can wake up and find a million things to be stressed or unhappy about… or I can wake up and go about my day with a smile and a heart of gratitude. And maybe sometimes the smiles are just a cover up and are my way of pushing through the hard times because I don’t know what else to do but that — smile and push through.
I wasn’t planning to share all of this but Sunday after I posted a similar short message on Instagram, a sweet friend sent me a text and let me know that she saw my post and then clicked through to watch the message I was referring to and that it was exactly what she needed. I won’t share any of her personal details but she went on to explain a bit of her struggles and that she had let herself get to a point where she was only focused on the reasons to be unhappy… and that this one little post had made all the difference. Sometimes I shy away from sharing things that are more personal and of my heart for fear of being vulnerable. And then I am prompted to share something like I did on Sunday and I am reminded that it may be just for one single person… and if it does make a difference in one life, then it is definitely worth being vulnerable for.
I sometimes feel that I am so busy in the thick of being a mother of young kids and just trying to make it through each day helping them and being the best mom I can be, that I wonder if I should be doing more to serve and make a difference outside of my home. And then something like this happens to remind me that I can make a difference outside of my home simply by sharing a short little message on social media. I can still focus on serving and loving and being all that I need to be here at home and at the same time serve others that are not even in my same state or country! It’s remarkable and beyond me and I don’t even take credit for it because it was not my message… just one from an inspired leader that I passed along.
One of the biggest takeaways for me of that whole text conversation was the reminder again that everyone has struggles. This was a friend that I consider to be one of the happiest people I know! So it was shocking to me to receive that message from her when I look to her as an example of choosing happiness and of having a bright and shiny outlook on life!
We ALL have struggles and we all need to be reminded every now and then that we simply cannot judge another’s circumstances until we have walked in their shoes. And the ironic thing is that I am me and you are you and so we won’t ever have the opportunity to actually walk exactly in each other’s shoes. It’s simply not possible… which actually takes that little saying and turns it on it’s head! We just need to remember that we simply cannot judge and leave it at that. It’s all too easy, especially with social media to look at another’s life and assume it is perfect and that there are no struggles. My friend reminded me that I need to look at everyone with a different lens and instead assume that they are dealing with some type of heartache or trial (because most likely they are) and extend love and compassion and kindness always.
I was nudged in that little exchange to try harder and to be better at all of this. To reach out more and to spread more kindness in any way that I can. I am far from perfect but will keep on trying. I am definitely grateful to all of the people, including you, that take the time to reach out to me or to share messages that inspire or encourage me. It’s a wonderful thing to be able to find little snippets of happiness that are uplifting and good, from people that I only know through social media!
My hope is that we can all choose a little more happiness each day and that in doing so we can also spread some of that joy and happiness to those around us. It’s definitely worthwhile… that I know for sure!
If you’d like to watch or listen to the message I was referring to that my friend clicked through to, you can find it here. (Right now it’s available in audio and video format, but will also soon be available to read. Go to where it says General Women’s Session and then to where it says President Dieter F. Uchtdorf.) No matter who you are or what your religious affiliation, it’s definitely worth the read/look/listen and one that I will refer back to often. The other messages shared at the same session were equally inspiring and uplifting, so I suggest looking at those while you are there too.
And because it just feels strange to not include at least one picture in a post, here is a little black and white take on the peonies that I had earlier this year. Hugs!