Choose the Road Less Unhappy. ~ Jennifer Moore

Via on Feb 1, 2014

mustaches_mom_Atticus

Every day—every moment—we choose how we experience our life.

Yesterday I picked Atticus up after school. All day he had hoped for a playdate with friends, but it just didn’t work out. When I delivered the news, he cried and protested as we stood outside the school. I walked him to the car and enthusiastically shared our plans for the evening. Atticus continued to cry and protest.

When we arrived at the restaurant, I reminded him that only he could change how he felt. It was obvious he wasn’t ready to stop carrying the disappointment. When we sat down at the table, he put his head down.

Quiety, I whispered, “I am going to enjoy this visit with our friends. You can choose to be unhappy about what didn’t happen or choose to enjoy what is. It is all up to you. I love you; whatever you choose.” Eventually he chose to enjoy the meal and move forward, but not until he was ready.

I realized three things in that moment:

1. Parenting requires patience and compassion, this we know, but it also requires us to let our children suffer (a bit) if they choose. I didn’t shame or threaten him, I just coached and let him choose. He chose wisely…for himself.

2. I chose wisely, too. At times we suffer with others, and miss an opportunity to be present and enjoy the moment. When we choose to not be unhappy, others may do the same. And it they don’t, we still have saved ourselves unnecessary suffering.

3. The more we choose the Road Less Unhappy, the easier it becomes to make this choice.

Why choose to not be unhappy (a double negative no-no in the world of editing)? Why not choose happiness?

Chasing happiness is like chasing the wind, we run in all directions as our perceptions constantly shift and change. What we perceive will make us happy at one moment, may not in another. Unhappiness is easier to pin down. Unhappiness is immediate. Unhappiness is focussing on what is not, rather than what is.

The Practice:

Choose to not be unhappy.
Commit to this practice.
Never give up.
Watch what comes.

Like Atticus, I am constantly working towards choosing wisely every moment.

Some days, I am the teacher; some days he is.

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Editor: Bryonie Wise

Photo: Jennifer Moore

About Jennifer Moore

Jenn Moore Mehmke is driven to communicate through movement, words and images. She is a certified yoga teacher, communication consultant and writer. Jennifer’s young son is her inspiration and parenting him reminds her daily that beauty exists everywhere. Jennifer can be found on Facebook at Breathe Peace. Follow her blog Daily Breath.

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4 Responses to “Choose the Road Less Unhappy. ~ Jennifer Moore”

  1. Deb says:

    Jennifer….going through a rather difficult situation with my teenage son. Makes me sad and unhappy often. Yesterday had a similar thought process….if I wait for all my external factors to line up to make me happy I am giving away my power to chose happiness!

    • Deb, thank you for your comments. It is difficult to watch our children suffer. My yoga and meditation practice help me keep my perspective broad, so I don't focus on only one aspect of every situation. Choosing the Road Less Unhappy doesn't mean unhappiness doesn't come. It may come. But we recognize we are stronger when we are thoughtful and aware; when we avoid being reactive. Breathe. In the womb and after birth, babies respond to the breathing patterns of the mother. Use your breath. As a mother, we need to care for ourselves so we can be strong and balanced to care for our children. I wish you peace and strength.

  2. IGB says:

    Hmm. This is a big issue for me right now. For the most part I completely agree, however, I have been (through therapy this past year, after a major life altering event) really questioning my old go-to strategy. "You choose your mood" was the number one philosophical statement shaping my childhood. I took it really seriously. I became really really good at it. And the choosing is definitely "supposed" to result in not choosing to be upset or irritated or holding grudges. I mastered it. And I know I've repeated this style of parenting to my own children. What's wrong with this? Nothing inherently. It's a good technique for the most part, but I took it so seriously that I grew into an adult who was pretty unable to really get in touch with feelings of disappointment, hurt, rejection, and sadness. Now I've got a lot of work to do. I'm doing it, and I'm also trying to be more aware of how I respond to my children's emotions so that I don't teach them to sweep hurt feelings under the rug. It's all about balance isn't it?

    • Thank you for your thoughtful comments IGB. Good, bad and our feelings of disappointment, hurt and sadness are often relative; meaning something that makes us happy at one moment, may not in another. As a parent, I never deny my son's feelings or tell him they aren't real or he shouldn't feel them. I do coach him (and myself) on how long he wants to carry the disappointment and sadness. The longer we carry feelings and emotions from the past, the more we miss what is going on right now. Anything swept under the rug will need to be cleaned up later. So yes, you are right! It is about balance. It is also about empowerment. We can not control what others do (and often what happens around us) but we do have control over how we respond. We commit to do our best. That is all. Thank you for sharing.

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