After spending the last week and a half on Whirlwind Roadtrip ’15 I have so many thoughts going through my mind. Everything from looking at my business with a critical eye and missing crazy family dynamics to the type of vacation I want to take next. It’s funny how spending time with my 3-year-old grand-daughter puts things into perspective and challenges me to take a closer look at how I live my day-to-day life.
It seems after each visit to spend time with her my eyes open just a little more. After my last visit I wrote The Struggle Is Real where I tackled how as a military spouse the idea of going home is an oxymoron and this time it’s all about what she taught me over the course of our recent 8 day road trip.
It’s funny as adults we assume that we know more than our little ones, and sure they look to us for guidance on how to get along in this big world, but I know I’ve learned more from this angel about finding happiness than I could ever teach her. She just has this natural instinct when it comes to being happy that makes you take pause because you know that somewhere along the line you lost that. It’s as if the moment we get older we forget what makes us being happy naturally and then spend all of our spare time searching for the “thing” that will bring our happiness back. For me I spend a lot of time trying to de-stress, relax and lower my anxiety levels all in a personal quest to find that easy happiness I somehow lost when I became a military spouse. And my answer just may be in the 5 Simple Life Lessons I learned from my grand-daughter about happiness and here they are…
5 Simple Life Lessons For Our Quest To Find Happiness
- Say Cheese and Smile! Whether it’s a selfie, portrait or a quick snapshot it’s time to leave your insecurities and body-image issues behind. No matter what we were doing if someone called my Emma’s name she turned, smiled a huge all-encompassing smile and yelled “cheese”. She didn’t worry about her hair or whether her arms looked fat, she just paused for a moment so someone could capture it and went about her business. But that’s not the end of this lesson. Our road trip was to visit family and every place we stopped at some point the pictures from the past were brought out and that’s when the magic and happiness happened. Each picture captured a time and a memory and sparked funny stories and allowed us to pass on bits and pieces of our lives. And THAT is why saying cheese is so important, it’s the memories you capture not what you were wearing or how you looked as Susie Q snapped away.
- Jump In – The Water’s More Than Fine. Whether it was the icy cold waters of Lake Michigan, the crowded beach at Kensington or the impending storm on pool day, my grand-daughter took every opportunity she could find to do something she loved and for her that was to play in the water. Not only did she squeal every time we saw a body of water she was always the first to jump in no matter how cold the water was. She didn’t test the waters first, nor did she worry that she was the only one taking the plunge, she loves to swim and nothing was going to stop her from the joy swimming gives her. While the rest of us watched as she dashed in and out of the icy waves giggling and shouting “It’s Fweezing, Gwamma” you couldn’t help but feel like you were missing out on the greatest thing on earth.
- Allow Yourself To Be Doted Upon. During our adventures we visited A LOT of extended family many of whom hadn’t met my grand-daughter. Every other day we were at a new house with new people and I noticed something interesting in the general dynamics. Emma was always the highlight and the moment we pulled up into the drive she was surrounded by people who made her the center of attention. But rather than become self-conscious or overwhelmed, she embraced the opportunity to be taken care of and doted upon. People would ask her what she wanted to play, offered her snacks and were thrilled to take care of her every need – AND because she let them everyone had a smile on their face. It reminded me that people get joy from making others happy and it’s important that we allow others to dote on us every now again.
- Give and take love freely. Similar to simple life lesson #3, more often than not I saw my grand-daughter do something that I think we all forget in our search for happiness, and that’s our need to give and receive unconditional love. This little girl would see someone sitting and she would just hop up on their lap fully knowing that she would be welcomed with open arms for a snuggle or the sharing of a new-found book. She had a personal awareness when she needed comfort and love and she gave as fiercely as received. Never did she worry about the way she chose to share her affection and love to another, nor did she hesitate to ask for what she needed. Definitely a lesson I need to remember.
- Play hard and take breaks if you want to be happy every day. So often as an adult I find myself planning out every detail of my life so that I’ll have time to do it all. But this week I was reminded that even with the best of intentions life happens and there is never enough time to get it all in. There were times where we had to force Emma to take a break so she would be ready to enjoy the next adventure, and by weeks end, I found myself wondering why I didn’t do the same. I realized that in order to enjoy every day it was just as important to play hard as it was to take breaks so I would have the energy to play hard again. No burn out, no stress, just the reality that there is only so much one can do without imploding…we helped her find that balance and should have done the same for ourselves.
~Judy Davis, the Direction Diva is a motivational speaker, author and lifestyle blogger as well as a military life and teen suicide prevention expert. Co-founder of DASIUM, Judy’s books Right Side Up and Warning Signs: Is Your Teen at Riskare go to resources for families and her websites are filled with tips, inspiration and resources for those looking for direction. Connect with Judy at TheDirectionDiva.com