In college, my five roommates and I called ourselves, “The Snapper Squad.” (Yes, we were very cheesy…but don’t ya just love cheese?)
On our Snapper Squad wall we covered it with reams of paper. Across the top we wrote “The Snapper Squad’s Happy List” (or something like that. Gretchen Rubin, eat your heart out 🙂 I should have written THAT happiness book!)
Anyway, the whole wall was covered with lists of what made us happy. Just writing the list made us happy. And every girl, boy, and RA who wandered into our apartment had a comment about our wall. It was a huge conversation starter, and every time I passed in and out of our apartment, I would glance at it…and college Amy was happy (in-between all the boy drama.)
I didn’t know it then, but years later, science would back up the Snapper Squad’s happiness experiment.
Being grateful and expressing gratitude makes us happier.
My niece, Hailey, and I taught a lesson to our young women at church on Sunday. The topic was “Why is it important to be grateful?” Isn’t it interesting that God has often commanded us to be happy? (Think of the parable of the lepers…)
Doctrine & Covenants 59:21 And in nothing doth man aoffend God, or against none is his bwrathckindled, save those who dconfess not his hand in all things, and eobey not his commandments.
Sometimes, when we feel our lives are a train wreck we don’t feel we have much to be grateful for.
But remember Job? Even after he lost everything, he said: “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return…the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”
I think God wants us to be happy. And if that’s true, than perhaps we shouldn’t think of commandments as restrictions, rather, as opportunities for greater happiness.
Even if you don’t care a lick about what scriptures say about gratitude, let us go back to science. Science says we are happier when we are grateful. Try it.
Hailey showed this video:
For a phenomenal talk from one of my spiritual heroes, listen to this one.Wow.
Tonight, with a nod to the Snapper Squad, the #makechniemafia hung a long piece of paper on the wall so we can have our own happy list.
“We sometimes think that being grateful is what we do after our problems are solved, but how terribly shortsighted that is. How much of life do we miss by waiting to see the rainbow before thanking God that there is rain?”
-Dieter F. Uchtdorf
Happy Monday. Hope you’re feeling grateful because then I bet you’re feeling happy 🙂
My one-word theme for the year, “Simplify” is staring at me from the wall. Personal progress is suspect.
I tell you, simplifying is hard. It means saying No to SO MANY THINGS.
I experienced further angst when reading this stove analogy by humorist David Sedaris on management: “One burner represents your family, one is your friends, the third is your health, and the fourth is your work.” The gist…was that in order to be successful you have to cut off one of your burners. And in order to be really successful you have to cut off two.
Oh dear. This is likely the reason I’ve never qualified for Boston. It’s the reason my great American novel is…well, where exactly is it? On the other hand, I’ve fought very hard for to keep the family fire burning. My friends probably feel very cold #sorry.
Is there any way to keep all four burners successfully lit? By trying to “do it all,” can we ever master anything? Logistically, getting those “10,000 hours” takes much longer. We become “jack of all trades, master of none.” For the select few, like elite athletes, master painters, novelists, and craftsman, cutting off select burners is essential.
But for the rest of us mere mortals? It seems those burners are constantly competing.
Over time I’ve become very aware of this simple fact: saying Yes to one thing means saying No to another.
It’s why my garden looked like this last summer:
My good and faithful garden still delivered tomatoes without much attention
I’ve always been a HUGE proponent of balance until one day, a few years ago, I thought, No, there should not be balance any longer – I’m throwing that out the window! I should choose the most important things in my life and pursue them with a single-mindedness. Everything else should fall to the wayside.
I struggle daily to find the focus. Every night I write out the next-day schedule. I have my “Top Three” priorities. I can tell you that “Write One Hour” is always on the list. Though I’ll be honest, it’s a pitiful five minutes.
I’ve noticed this stove burner thing play out in several different scenarios. If I immerse myself in total family activities/running errands/grocery shopping, “my work” (writing) suffers. If I stay at the computer all day long writing or getting ready to teach a class, I feel horrible for neglecting my children. Most times, “the work” takes the backseat. Sometimes I wonder if that’s the best choice.
Tough choices abound daily. For instance, I want a really clean and organized and perfectly decorated house, but I’ve consciously made the decision to not use my best mental hours to clean. Sometimes this is embarrassing (for every repair and mailman…)
I refuse to get any more chickens, rarely volunteer at school, and won’t make an extra trip to school when kids forget stuff (full disclosure: I still cave.) But darn it, it’s also the reason I can’t seem to get the pictures hung on the wall.
A Personal Manifesto to Keep the Burners Burning Bright:
1. Protect the things that are most important. That means we need TO KNOW what those things are. Make an actual list.
2. Pursue the MOST IMPORTANT things FIRST.
3. Practice the art of saying No. This is particularly hard for women. We like to save the day. But why? Are we trying to be helpful or are we trying to make ourselves feel good? “I’m sorry, I just can’t make that happen right now,” is a muscle that needs to be exercised! When we say NO to something, we are saying YES to something else – like time or family or a hobby – or A NAP!
4. Remember: we choose our own level of busy. I remind myself of this when I see my name next to “feed dinner to 50 cast members.” I CHOSE to put my name there. (why, Amy, why???)
5. Make a decision and than own your choice. There needs be no battle between stay-at-home and working parents. We are all working parents. We are all doing our best to support and raise our families. Individual families require individual decisions. When it comes to one another, I think our only job on this earth is to love one another no matter what. Be confident in your choice. Haters be darned.
6. Stop being a people pleaser. Ugh, I’m such an obliger. Stop it. The End.
7. Learn to delegate. Did you know? In families, 40% of women are the main breadwinners, yet 70% of women still take on the majority of the household tasks. It seems to me that we women want and need help and we resent the fact that our families don’t help more, but if they try to help, they don’t do it the way we would do it. We feel badly when there’s resistance. “Oh no no no, let me get that for you. You sit there while I load the dishwasher, sweep the floor, and kill myself from exhaustion…” puh-lease.
We handicap our children when we don’t let them help. They become literally help-less. My first college roommate left college after a week because independence was so scary. She was scared to walk to class. “Laundry is too overwhelming.” As I sadly said good-bye I remembered scrubbing our kitchen floor as a child and I was finally grateful that I was taught to clean, cook, and wash my own clothes. I wasn’t good at it for a long, long time, but it came. Let the children fail, work and struggle. It’s a gift.
8. Seek guidance through prayer. I believe there is a God who loves us, gives us gifts, and wants us to succeed. Seek Him first and we will know what burners to light.
One last story: the other day I was at a track meet for my daughter. I took a video of another child winning a race and sent it to her mother. Her mother was thankful but I sensed she felt guilty that she wasn’t there, that she had to apologize and explain. Was I making her feel guilty by sending a video? Was I making her feel that I was the better mother because I was the one there? I wanted her to know that I’m not always the one “THERE” either. Next week, I can’t be at the track meet. Another mother or father will take a video of my child running and will send it to me. I may feel guilt but I will fight it. That No means a Yes to someone or something else. And sometimes that’s just the way it has to be.
1. Thank you for your validating thoughts and comments regarding my Bachelor addiction. I have gotten some very funny emails…especially regarding husbands who can’t help themselves either!
2. We have a chicken in our kitchen. Seriously. Good story. Another post. We considered putting a diaper on it but nixed the idea. She sits in a kennel and has laid two eggs in two days. Baaawwk baawwwk! all day long. Today Paige yelled, “Be quiet you chicken. I’m trying to watch my show!” It really stinks too. Forget last comment. Anyone want a pet chicken?
3. Games my children are loving: Sorry, Hi-Ho Cheerio (Paige and Brynne), and Killer Bunnies.
4. Elder Ian Makechnie is coming home on Valentine’s Day!
5. I’m excited for Valentine’s Day. I’m mulling fudgy brownies, sugar cookies, or Red Velvet Cupcakes. How to choose? Brynne has already started her cards.
6. Our March North Carolina trip is paid. I can’t wait. We have room for guests…
7. The basement specialist came. He gave us a quote to fix water issues and finish a bedroom and large family area. A mere $40,000. Um… The question is: Do you spend more initially or pay later with less quality work? I think I know the answer. Gregor said I needed a job. I won’t tell you what I said. He ammended his statement. I love my husband.
8. We girls in the family loved loved loved PBS Masterpieces Downton Abbey. We were so sad it ended but thrilled there will be a second season.
9. Paige is learning her letters. Whenever she sees an uppercase A she yells, “Up down across!” When I ask what letter that is she says, “Up down across!” I think I’m not doing this right.
10. I spoke with a mother yesterday who had two children under two. Once, when I was in tears, having the same feelings, I had someone tell me, “You are laying the foundation of a great work. Someday your sons will call you blessed.” The first thing I thought was, “Sons!” and then I was grateful. All the hard work will be worth it. I cross my fingers and hope.