Editor's note: This article was originally published on Power of Moms. It has been republished here with permission.
What do you see in this photo?
I walked past this scene the other day and it brought me joy. The flowers looked so pretty lit up by the sun and I love the old windows in my 1880's house. I rarely have fresh flowers but these flowers were given to me at a speech I did and they've lasted amazingly long and have brightened my days. My camera was sitting right there so I snapped a photo. When I looked at the photo, I realized there were a lot of not-so-pretty things in the picture. When you looked at this photo, did you notice the messy papers and piles? What about the chips and scratches on the table? Did you notice how dirty the window are in the background? What about those snowflakes the kids made that have been up there for a couple months and should probably come down? Did you notice how close our neighbor's house is right through those windows? (Luckily we love our neighbors but I do wish they'd thought to put just a few more feet between these houses … )
Looking at the good, the bad and the ugly in my photo got me thinking. I'm happy when I notice and celebrate and focus on the beauty and goodness that is always to be found in life. I'm happy when I choose not to dwell on the imperfections and hard stuff.
As I think back on this past weekend, I choose to focus on the coziness and tastiness and fun of making cookies with the kids while beautiful snow fell all afternoon on Saturday – rather than focusing on the big spilled oatmeal mess the kids made as part of our cookie-making and the way the older boys whined about shoveling the driveway. I choose to focus on the excitement and accomplishment the kids and I felt as we stood back and admired their rooms after a thorough cleaning and rearranging – rather than the frustrating moments when the kids got off-task during the process.
I choose to focus on how sweet one of my older boys was as he played with some little kids we were babysitting the other day – rather than the fact that he just brought home some disappointing grades. I choose to focus on how nice it was to watch a movie snuggled between my kids with a couple of them trading off giving me little neck massages (they know the way to my heart!) and my oldest offering great commentary on the movie rather than focusing on one child's extreme grumpiness about our movie choice. I choose to focus on how my husband fixed a leak in the basement and did umpteen other really helpful and kind things for me and for the kids rather than focusing on a couple things he did or didn't do this week that made me feel a little bit invisible.
Happiness is all about where I place my focus
This isn't exactly a brand new idea. And it's not so easy to focus on the positive when the negative is bearing down upon you or your mind just isn't feeling all that open to happy thoughts. But really, we can find beauty and happiness in just about any situation – if we look hard enough.
Saren adores her five energetic, adventurous, precocious children but doesn't totally adore the mess and busyness and bickering that comes with them! She grew up all over the world, did her B.A. at Wellesley College and her M.Ed. at Harvard, did humanitarian service in Eastern Europe, and conducted training programs for teachers and enrichment programs for kids. But after she got married and had her five children, the real education and work began! When she's not trying to answer five different needs and questions at once, she writes and puts together programs for moms for the website she co-directs, Power of Moms. She currently lives in Ogden, Utah and loves reading, hiking, and biking with her family (or by herself when possible!). She often struggles with balance but finds joy in being involved in many things that are meaningful to her.