This past week I have been enjoying a long awaited family holiday. Oliver, London and I have made our way (along with Ollie’s mum) to Queenstown, New Zealand. It has been beautiful. We have been skiing the slopes, sitting in front of log fires, enjoying lovely dinners out and all that fun holiday stuff. But to be honest- we could have gone anywhere and done anything, it would not have mattered to me as what has made this holiday for me has been hours and hours of time spent together.
This past week I have not had to check a clock or worry about being anywhere at any given time (save for a ski lesson yesterday but even then, had we missed it, nothing would have really come of that- I still can’t really ski!)
Every minute of every day I have been able to ‘hang out’ with London and with Oliver which is something, that in our busy lives, is a rarity. And I know that I have felt wonderful. Happy, content and relaxed.
And so all this ‘time’ got me thinking.
- Why is it that our lives have become so busy, so full that above all else we crave ‘time’ with each other?
- Why is it that everything has become so jam packed?
- When did normal life become that way?
- When did a ‘full time job’ become the expected norm?
- And when did what constitutes ‘full time’ become ‘all the time’?
I don’t really know the answers to these questions but I do feel that in the past 10 years my life has become faster and busier than ever before. I expect in part this is thanks to technology. I also think it has a bit to do with becoming a parent and running a business. But I still sense that our world is moving ‘faster’ than ever before and I often wonder if that is really a good thing for any of us particularly when it comes to our relationships.
A reminder to slow down
Some of you know that a New Year’s goal of mine this year was to ‘slow down’. I don’t mean in the physical sense- I mean in the ‘life’ sense. This year I have been more conscious than ever of how I spend my time and who I spend it with. Working in the world of relationships, I am reminded on a daily basis of just how valuable my family is and how important it is to actually be present with them as much as I can.
I set this resolution as part of my own attempts at ‘happiness’. When I starting writing this blog I chose to use the word ‘Happy’ as at the time I wasn’t really that happy at all. I wanted to change that and felt that a good place to start was to say to the world (and perhaps more importantly myself) that I can be happy and I can even help those falling out of love to be happy too. And can I say, it has really worked. Or perhaps I should say it is really ‘working’…
Because what I have come to realise is that my pursuit of happiness is a daily, weekly, monthly exercise that will probably be a part of my life for the rest of my life. And the key was in making the conscious choice to be happy, no matter what was thrown my way.
Happiness, relationships and walking roads together
At my book launch a few weeks ago two friends of mine spoke about their experience of divorce- how their marriages had come to an end- one chose that path while the other had it tossed at him entirely unexpectedly. But both said similar things- their relationships had reached a point where life had taken over- where the day to day busy-ness become the norm and their relationships started to get lost in the chaos of each working week.
I heard a few days later from another good friend who had been at my launch that night that those speeches were to her a reminder of what really matters in her life. She and her husband have been married for almost 20 years. She said they went home that night and spoke together about their goals and dreams- about where they were going, together and individually, this year and next. She mentioned to me that it was not something they had done for a while but she was reminded just how important it is to make sure you are both travelling the same road in the same direction.
And so once again I am reminded that relationships make (and break) our lives. But we of course make (and break) our relationships.
My happiness pursuit
The relationships we have with others, particularly our close intimate relationships, are possibly the most important things in our lives. Our immediate family relationships sculpt us into the people we are. The impact of parents on children, particularly in the first 3 years of life, is both incredible and terrifying all at the same time.
I struggle to find anything that is a higher priority in our lives than our relationships with those closest to us. We can almost do without everything else but if when we don’t have ‘love’ we are lost. We seek a life that is meaningful and often our relationships with our partners, our parents and our children create much of what makes life ‘meaningful’ or ‘happy’.
And so here lies the key part of my ‘happiness’ pursuit. My relationships- family and friends- are at the core of what makes me happy and so when it comes to ‘slowing down’ this is what I have been focusing on-
1. Living in the moment (even when the moment is unexpected and frustrating!)- Living in the moment to me doesn’t mean doing crazy dangerous things but being truly present in what you are doing when you are doing it and looking for the good in any situation. My favourite experience of this in the past week has been the inevitable delays that are all a part of travelling- planes are always a bit late, luggage takes forever and customs… well in Sydney that customs line seems to go on forever. But the thing is, all of that is time where there is nothing else you can do but just be there and the best bit- we were together. And so we played silly games, had silly conversations and planned our next day while waiting endlessly in lines of frustrated and unhappy travellers.
2. Being kind- Kindness is a trait I live and breathe by. It takes so little to demonstrate kindness and it is certainly something I cherish in return. Kindness and happiness go hand in hand for me. And kindness for each of us may be different but I sense it comes back to good old fashioned ‘values’. Treating others fairly, with respect, having manners, being curious and not judgmental- remembering that we never really know what is happening in another’s life. When people are challenging me in my life I often adopt the motto- ‘Kill them with kindness’ and can I say, it seems to work! This past week I have chatted to so many strangers on chair lifts, in cafes and on tours. All people, all going about their day and all kind.
3. Being Grateful- I have so much to be grateful for an this past week it has been so easy to be grateful. We have been in one of the most beautiful places in the world, sailing down snowy mountains (well ok- more slowing snow ploughing down beginner slopes) taking in fresh air and endless views. Ask me more about my ‘grateful’ practice next week when I am tossed back into the working world! When things are tough it is so much harder to even want to be grateful but those are the times I find I need it most. And so for me, I take my daughter for a walk down the road find a coffee and sit and play and chat for a few moments to remind myself of just how the simple stuff can make a different. If you can, if can find those silver linings, I find it really helps to pull me back up to that happier place.
And so for the past 7 days I have had the opportunity to ‘hang out’ with my daughter and husband. To partake in endless conversations about mountains, lakes, feelings and thoughts. We have laughed and smiled more than we have in weeks. And when I asked my 3 year old what her favorite part of being on holidays was she said ‘hanging out mummy’. We have been happy.
And it is not to say we are not ‘happy’ when we are at home- it is perhaps just to say that we are ‘more happy’ when we are together, all the time, with no ‘must do’s’ cluttering up our days.
And so as I begin my journey home to normal busy life I will smile as I remind myself I can be on holidays every day if I choose- I just have to turn off that phone, grab my daughters hand, head out for a walk with my husband and begin a few more rambling conversations full of smiles.
Freebies! Yes we said Freebies!! You can download posters and printables here full of quotes to help your pursuit of happiness or just to decorate a plain office wall!