Some people say you "lose yourself" when you have kids. And after the birth of my first child, that's exactly what happened. I lost myself and sacrificed personal dreams for family ones. After all these years, I learned that joy from families and personal happiness exist together. You just have to find the balance — here is how I did it:
Change my attitude
I decided and told myself that I will be happy now. Attitude change: check.
I waited for tomorrow, next week and later to do things that would make me happy, so I changed that. Instead, I decided to do things that would make me happy now. I became productive, willing to serve, and able to set and accomplish goals. Now, I'm finding myself again and I'm happy.
After six years of losing myself, I made a goal to do something incredibly difficult, time-consuming, and one that I would have to improve myself in many capacities in order for me to be successful in. It was a journey of happiness that would help me find myself and improve relationships. Setting realistic, positive goals helps us stay focused on good things.
Happiness is a choice. Being happy is a decision. Since I made the decision to be happy, I've lost 25 pounds in eight weeks through diet and exercise. My goal is to lose 35 pounds by the end of the month, and 70 pounds by July 19 (my eight-year wedding anniversary). I'm not on a strict diet, but I am trying to make healthier lifestyle choices. When I eat healthier most days, weight loss is faster. Weight loss is great, but overall I am shooting for progress.
Remember, progress is a process. We need to make better choices consistently before lifestyle changes happen. I had a bowl of ice cream every day last week, but instead of eating an entire bowl, I had two scoops. For me, that's progress. Instead of eating six chocolate donuts in one day, I had two in one day — progress.
I have been focusing on making progress with my chores as well. I washed and dried the clothes, folded them, put them away or hung them up in one day four times within the last eight weeks. I'm tooting my own horn, because with four little ones and mountains of laundry all the time, this is a huge deal. I also exercised six days each week for six out of the last eight weeks for 1.5-2 hours. Do you know what it's like getting four kids under five dressed (moms of multiples, you rock!) and out the door before 8:15 a.m.? It's difficult, but I did it and I'm proud of myself. In four months, I've made more progress of finding myself and improving in multiple areas than I have in the past six years. Maybe the past six years were small steps to get to where I am today, but either way, I'm getting to where I want to go. The biggest difference is that I'm choosing to be happy and my attitude is a source of strength now. I was always a happy person, but there's a special kind of happiness that comes when you seek it and choose it. This kind of happiness makes you want happiness for others as well.
It is almost like a conversion to happiness. You choose it, test it, and once you accept it, it brings about a special light and you want everyone else to have it too. I'm at the "I want happiness for everyone" stage right now. I know there will be days when my choice for happiness will be tested (like last week), but choosing happiness, sticking to your choice and pushing through the hard times will give you the strength you need to become who you want to be and help you get to your desired destination. I'm becoming who I want to be and I'm on the right track to my desired destination. It's a never ending trek uphill, downhill, in open water, and white water rapids, but so far, I like it.
Last week, I was holding my two youngest children in my arms (2 and 11 months) and we passed a mirror. We all smiled in it and for the first time in six years, I recognized "me." It was instant. I literally felt the thought, "There you are, Emi." I have multiple roles, but I finally saw "me" instead of a face with many responsibilities. The moment in the mirror was a moment of clarity.
At the end of the movie "Wreck-it Ralph," Ralph realizes he's a "bad guy," but not a bad guy. I'm a mom, but I'm not just a mom. I'm Emi. I'm someone who has interests and hobbies, and likes building snowmen, swimming, eating chocolate (and sweets in general), and being with family and friends. I'm not defined by my roles, but my roles can help me become a better person if I choose to let them.
I'm getting to where I want to go. Changing my attitude to choosing happiness and doing things that make me happy were my first steps.
What will be your first step to choosing happiness?