“Negativity is a thief.
It steals happiness.”
I feel challenged to be more joyful, as I have so much to be joyful for. But…see there has always been a “but” the past few years, and I let that get to me, consume me, become part of me. I don’t want to let it anymore.
I was always looking for the other shoe to drop because things hadn’t gone my way. See I’m very type A, and I want to fix things, be in control of things, and facing secondary infertility had knocked me on my ass in that department. I shared every grievance because I thought that made me honest and real: those are qualities people appreciate, right? And it did honestly show my reality- the way that I saw things- intensely emotional and always erring on the side of caution, of pessimism. Just call me Eeyore.
You want to get really real? For me, it was like I would rather feel an intensely negative emotion than the mundane of everyday life. I needed the excitement, the drama. I thrive on that. And that’s really hard for me to admit because it’s one of those things I really don’t like about myself, and I certainly don’t like when I see it in others. I’ve always thrived on chaos, maybe because I grew up surrounded by a lot of it, I don’t know. And I thrive on feeling useful and important too, on helping, on feeling like I’m making a difference. It’s part of why I went into teaching. It’s part of why teaching burnt me out so quickly. I’m always overloading myself with things to do and people to see and place to go, go, go, because if I’m not moving, I’m not being productive. And if I’m not being productive, I’m failing. And being that way drained the joy from my life during a time when I should have been able to be more joyful than ever before. And when I got my happy ending, a healthy baby boy after struggling through secondary infertility, I was still stuck in that rain-cloud, waiting for the “but” to show up and ruin my life.
Because it’s easy, you see, to be negative. Negativity is everywhere. We relish in it. It’s embedded in the things we often find most funny, most interesting, and most engaging. Like a car-wreck: you don’t want to see it but you look, and you look hard for details. Not only that, but we share the things that shock us most, to shock others. We pass along the negativity even without meaning to. And so the cycle continues…until you choose to stop it.
If I have learned anything from my experience the past two years, it’s that life isn’t fair, y’all, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t beautiful, too. And when I was stuck harping on the desire to have more children and failing over and over again, I was not engaging with my son or my husband the way I should have been. I was not noticing the great things that were happening or focusing on the joys around me. I had faded, and what was left of me never really came back, and I was someone new but not better. I had what I wanted, and still, I was not satisfied. I was not taking time to enjoy the big things, let alone the little things. But I’ve been trying to change that.
I’m human, so I’m not going to say I’ve totally changed, and it’ll never happen again. I know it will. But I’m trying. I’m trying to notice the little things and be thankful for them. I’m trying to hesitate before sharing the negative and simply viewing and moving on without passing it on. I’m trying to keep my mouth shut more often (and the good Lord knows how impossible that feels to me). I’m trying to let things be and stop trying to fix them when they’re out of my hands. I’m trying to give things up to Him and to let them go for good. I’m trying to remember to point out the good to my three year old instead of the bad, both in the world and in him (because Lord, help us, he’s definitely 3, and that is difficult). I’m trying to put down my phone more except to photograph a little more and browse a lot less. I’m trying to give myself more space to breathe and think and grow in positive ways. I’m trying.
So, if you follow me on Instagram, and you’ve wondered what the #31LittleThings is about, it’s this: taking a moment each day for a month to consciously look for joy, that I may continue to revel in the tiny moments and people and details that make my life as beautiful and joyful as it can be long past this challenge. They say it takes at least 30 days to make a habit. So, I’m starting this year with what I hope will be the best habit I can focus on: happiness.