This past weekend, I celebrated my first wedding anniversary.
This past weekend was also the first time that my wife and I turned on the Christmas music, unpacked our Christmas decorations, and started hanging everything up while passing a drooling, wriggling, and cooing baby back and forth.
Heather and I have spent three Christmases together, but this is our first as parents. And to say I’m in my happy place would be an understatement.
Although, “happy” seems like the wrong word to use.
Well, not wrong, per see, because I am really happy. But “happy” just seems like such an … incomplete … way of describing it.
“Joyful” seems more like it. Yes, I’m in my joyful place — at home with my wife and our little birdie, indulging in the traditions of our burgeoning family.
As I get older, and experience more in life, I gain a progressively more acute understanding of the important difference between happiness and joy.
The best part? Being joyful can be a choice.
Some believe that joy is a conscious commitment to be happy, to have a sense of contentment for the moment, despite life’s challenges. Joy is an internal lasting emotional condition.
This is from the article “Is There a Relationship Between Happiness and Joy” by Dr. Cheryl MacDonald at HeathPsycology.org (linked below).
I take pride in my conscious commitment to be happy, while also feeling humbled by the importance of Heather’s presence in my life, and now our baby’s presence, because they have each unlocked new levels of joy that I didn’t even know existed.
My choice to be happy mattered, but their impact has multiplied it one hundred times over.
Are you making a conscious commitment to be happy? And are the people you spend the most time with helping you double down on that choice?
The holiday season, the end of the year, is a great time for reflecting on these questions.
Be a better person
Do you ever wonder if you’re doing what you’re truly meant to be doing? Jeff Goins has a useful series of three questions that can help you drill down to find the answer to that ever-elusive question: What do you do with your life?
Do you say “Thank you” as often as you should, or as often as you’d like to? James Clear walks you through seven situations when it is appropriate to say “Thank you” that you may be overlooking.
And speaking of saying “Thank you” …
Are you saying “Thanks” without actually being grateful? It’s easy to do, if we’re not careful. And if we’re not mindful of living in the moment and appreciating what we have rather than lamenting what we do not.
Be a better partner
Do you find yourself letting “not good enough-itis” impact your relationships in a negative way? For example, do you undercut your significant other when they attempt to be helpful? In this episode of the hitched podcast, Dr. Noelle Nelson explains how this can be damaging to your relationship and what you can do about it.
“Both men and women bring different nonverbal skill sets to the table. The more they can each expand their respective repertoires, the more successful they will be in relationships both at work and home.” Amen.
This seems counter-intuitive, doesn’t it? “The partner who loves the least has more power in that relationship.” But it’s proven true, and is one of many issues when there is a mismatch in commitment levels in a relationship.
Be a better parent
How much screen time is too much for a child? And what negative effects can actually result from children of different ages being exposed to screens for varying lengths of time? It can be difficult to parse the answers from all the available (and sometimes biased) research out there. Jen Lumanlan at Your Parenting Mojo analyzed the AAP’s latest guidelines to get down to brass tacks.
Speaking of kids and screen time, one of the reasons to keep kids away from screens is to limit their exposure to advertising. Just how much advertising are kids exposed to? And what can you do about it? The guys at Stuff You Should Know tackled this in a recent episode. It’s harrowing, and enlightening.
What if you treated your kids with the same respect as you would your biggest business client or investor? This question is the basis for Jim Sheils’ practice of scheduling “board meetings” with his children as a way to connect and reconnect. It make sense … as does his clever repurposing of a quote from The Godfather.