From stressed to happy, my own happiness project.
By: Christina Rizakos
Founder of happywomen.co
Meant for so much more.
Deep down, I have always known that I was meant for so much more. As a young girl, I dreamed of the life I would have when I grew up: I knew I would be a mom to many. I wanted a house, work I owned and enjoyed, and happy mornings that would excite the start of my day.
For the most part, even after having 4 kids, I have maintained this philosophy throughout my adult life. It was more important to be happy than rich. (i thought I needed to chose)
I grew up in a home where money and business were the stressors. Happiness was present only when business was going well.
I was brought up to expect the bare minimum from life. Out-of-the-box ideas were simply “dreams” that would never see the light of day. I was told to stop dreaming many times.
So, what should you do when you don’t fit in? How do you cope when you have countless ideas floating in your mind—full of possibilities that you know can change your life?
That was my struggle growing up, and in some ways, it still is….
Were my parents right? Is happiness barely paying your bills, not having any money left over to enjoy hobbies, working at a job that doesn’t really align with your values, going home and doing this all again the next day?
My happiness journey began in September of 1998 when I was in nursing school, living an imposter’s life and trying to please my parents—”being a nurse was a good enough job for a girl….”
As I entered school for another semester, a sudden realization swept over me. I turned around and walked out, heading back home. The words “EFF this! I can’t do this anymore!” were spoken into the universe, which gave me permission to stop worrying about others and to focus on my own happiness.
That was my break out moment.
I found my way after that; I went into business for myself and refused to say yes to things that did not make me happy.
Along the way, when my happy-meter fell out of alignment, I felt stressed and out of balance.
For example: when I became a mom. A happy time, but a lonely time as well. You press pause on your life as a woman to make sure the baby is taken care of.
Your plans and dreams are put on the back-burner. This is when many women never return to their ‘happy’. They only reminisce of a happier time when they were excited about their purpose and dreams and their skinny jeans.
Their happiness is replaced by watching their kids be happy, and sometimes that is enough.
I, however, want to speak to the women that still yearn to find their happiness—even after having kids.
Happiness. What a great word. When you first hear it you think of yellow smiley emojis or people laughing.
But what is happy? What does it truly mean to be happy?
I’ve had ice cream cones that have made me happy! I’ve been to concerts that I swore were some of the happiest nights of my life.
But was that really “happy”?
It appears some people are never happy, while others paste a smile on their face even when things aren’t that pleasant. Why is that?
Life gets so busy and loud that simple tasks seem like such a burden. What you found pleasure in before no longer matters to you.
You’ve lost yourself in life and your role as a mom, wife, sister, employee, citizen of the world….
How do you get back to happy?
One thing I know for sure is the happy muscle needs to be exercised daily. It’s a skill that needs practice.
Here are a few tips that have helped me along the way:
- Practice gratitude daily!
Recently, I purchased a journal that changed my life. It’S called the
Five minute journal .It has me write down three things every day that made my day great, things I can improve on, and things that I am grateful for. It also guides me in setting my intention for the day with daily affirmations.
2. “Me time” first thing in the morning
“How do you do it all?” I get asked this question a lot! With 4 kids at home, finding time for “me time” seems like an impossible task, but, luckily, we all have 24 hours in a day. I choose to use my time wisely. I set my alarm to wake up earlier than everyone else. This was rough at the beginning, but my body has grown accustomed to it. During my morning me time, I write in my journal, meditate for 10 minutes, make some coffee, and light a scented candle. Sometimes I get my workout in, and sometimes I work on my business.
Here’s google’s definition of happy:
- feeling or showing pleasure or contentment.
There are moments in life that bring you pleasure and contentment: being in love, getting married, having kids, winning, achieving a goal, enjoying a nice glass of wine….
What happens, though, when you lose your “happy”?
Giving yourself permission for “me time” can be difficult, but not doing it is even harder. Make it a MUST and use the time to do something that makes you happy.
3. Schedule for the week
When I know what needs to be done, things just flow better. I am less stressed, and the week progresses smoothly… most of the time.
The easiest way for me to stay on track is a dry erase calendar on my fridge. I write down the kids’ appointments, our weekly menu, and what I need to accomplish for work.
Get it out of your head and onto a calendar.
It’s no secret that you are defined by the average of the 5 people you spend most of your time with. If you surround yourself with mommy shamers, stressed out negative Nancy’s, success haters, or people with no drive, guess what? You are more likely to stay unhappy.
To counteract this, you can join online communities, such as Facebook groups that focus on upliftment and positivity, or groups where the focus is a hobby or are business related.
5. Move your body
Working out leads to changes in your brain, such as increased blood flow and the creation of neural pathways. Hormones like endorphins, serotonin, dopamine, and testosterone are also released in response to increased physical activity.
In addition, exercise is shown to release stress and help control anxiety.
The good news is that moving your body doesn’t necessarily mean spending hours at the gym; it can be as simple as taking a walk or going for a bike ride.
When my twins were born, I was extremely anxious. I knew that I could not get to a gym, so I started doing workouts out at home. After a few weeks, my mood was much calmer, and I felt better and happier.
6. A hobby that excites you
What did you enjoy doing years ago before your life got so busy? Were you gifted at something? Carve out time throughout your week for your hobby. In today’s world, there are a plethora of online courses that can teach you just about anything!
7. Podcasts to listen to:
Podcasts have been my LIFE CHANGERS!
I swear, when I’m having an awful day and decide to turn on a few of my favorites to listen to, everything falls back into place. The value that certain podcasts possess is amazing! These days, there are podcasts for just about anything. Instead of pointless social media scrolling, listen to a podcast that will benefit you.
8. Night out
It took having 4 kids and 10 years of marriage to have date nights! YIKES!
If I could suggest anything to the woman reading this right now it would be to give yourself permission to have a night out! Whether it be with your significant other or friends, take the time to disconnect, get dressed up, and have fun!
9. Find your purpose
I am a strong believer that when you are true to your purpose, and you are sharing it with the world, you are HAPPY! How can you not be? We are all surrounded by people who complain about their jobs and hate their bosses. Sunday nights stress them out, and they are basically working for the weekend. How can you be happy when you spend 8 hours a day doing a job you hate? How can you be your best self? How can you be a great wife, partner, or mom?
Being clear about what you want and aligning your purpose with your life’s work and not apologizing for it is HAPPINESS. Serve others the way ONLY YOU CAN!
Are you still unsure about what your purpose is or how you can use your skills to create a happier life? Let me assure you that you are NOT alone! Most people don’t have their CRAP together.
Invest in some personal development books or—better yet—an online coach that can help you figure it out.
This is an investment, and just like you, at the beginning of my happiness journey, I was hesitant to invest in my personal growth. The fact of the matter is that I chose to invest in something that would help me feel better and have a clear picture of who I am, which in turn would make me a better mom and wife.
Through a reality check, I realized that I was spending time and money on things that only covered up how unhappy I was. These included:
- Hours of internet search
- Online impulse shopping
I decided I needed more out of life, so I hired myself a life/business coach. I decided to invest in myself and get some help from someone that could better guide me and give me the tools I needed to NOT stay stuck.
10. Be okay with not being okay
I think we need to give ourselves permission to not be okay. It’s okay to be in a funk. It’s okay to not be happy sometimes. It’s also important to validate these feelings and to know how to get yourself to a better place.
Ask yourself: is this what it feels like to be in a funk? Why am I feeling like this? What isn’t aligning with my purpose? In what areas of my life can I improve? When was the last time I was happy, and why?
If you know what makes you happy, it’s easier to get back there.
Overall, happiness is a choice. We have the power to create so much in our lives. More love, success, gratitude, self-improvement, laughter….
This life is what you make of it, and I hope you decide to make it a happy one!
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Be well and happy!