Want deeper happiness? What more ease and joy in your partnership and parenting?
I think we all do.
This morning I jotted down ten tips that will get you there. Practicing these every day will transform you.
I picked these ten because they came easily for me, but there are hundreds more that will work as well.
Each tip contains a link to another blog post for those who want to dig even deeper.
So today, listen to your heart.
And watch your life transform.
Ten Tips for a Happy Life
1. Slow Down
"Hurry up!" "Let's go!" "Not today – there's no time."
But there is. There are as many hours in the day now as ever – it's just a matter of how we fill them.
Pare back your schedule. Cut something from your calendar that you are doing because you think you should. Because this is your life. You get to call this shots. Set a pace you can not only live with, but thrive in. Slowing down just a bit lets us breathe deeper and live with more meaning.
Slowing down as a parent means putting down your to-do list and picking up your baby. It means letting your child linger on the walk home, lost in a world of spiderwebs and moss. It means letting them wander, explore, and imagine. It means making space to just be with your older child, sharing their passions and dreams.
2. Be Authentic
Pretending to be something or someone you are not guarantees less joy in your life. Don't push your true self under the surface. Parent, teach, live, and work from your heart. It can change everything.
Being authentic as a parent means parenting from your heart, not from the advice of an "expert". It means remembering that you are the expert on your child. It means honoring your inner voice and parenting with your heart wide open.
3. Release Judgement
The greatest gift I ever gave myself was moving beyond judgement. I see others (and even myself) more clearly now. When you see someone parenting differently, loving differently, or worshiping differently instead of judgement reach for love. Everyone will feel uplifted.
Releasing judgement as a parent means letting your child be who they truly are. It also means allowing others to follow a different path than you. There are as many different ways to be as there are people on earth. Allow. And find beauty in our differences.
4. Enjoy Simple Pleasures
Life if full of simple, quiet riches. A soft pillow and a warm bed, the sunrise and a cup of tea, a meal prepared at home and a loved one to share it with.
Our lives are full and we are blessed.
Enjoying simple pleasures as a parent means slowing down and truly enjoying our children. It means holding hands and taking walks together. It means laughing, coloring, and cooking – side by side. It means letting your teen teach you how to play their favorite game, and laughing at yourself with them. Nothing fancy, nothing expensive. Just time. Together.
5. Relax Control
Letting go of control means allowing others to choose a different path. It means taking control of yourself and releasing your need to control others. It's big. It's challenging. And it's a game-changer.
Relaxing control as a parent means choosing your "battles." It means asking yourself what really matters and reacting wisely. We don't need to always be in charge. And when we let go of that need everyone opens more to joy.
6. Count Your Blessings
When you look at your life do you see the messes or the magic? When your kids come home do you notice they are loud and dirty or do you notice the way their eyes shine and their voices sing after a fulfilling day? When your partner comes home from work do you notice that they are late or that they are helping pay the bills?
There are blessings at every turn. Make it a habit to notice. And let the rest go.
Counting your blessings as a parent means remembering every day that this time is brief and magical and will never come again. Savor the sweet spots in every day.
7. Practice Kindness
There are countless ways to practice kindness. Let's start with being mindful of the power of our words. When you have something harsh to say, breathe. Breathe in peace, breathe out frustration. Speak your truth, but speak it gently.
Speaking kindly as a parent means practicing peaceful parenting. It means pausing before you react. It means apologizing when you loose your cool. It means finding a way to be heard when you use the softest voice.
8. Be More Present
We live distracted lives. Choose presence just a little more today. Be aware of the feel of the wind in your hair or the sun on your skin. Look into the eyes of your loved ones. Notice the colors, scents, and textures of your life.
Look up. There is beauty all around.
Being present as a parent means making time to just be with your child. To play their games. To look into their eyes. To hear their dreams. It means being nowhere else but here. If only for a moment.
9. Seek Connection
Connection is possible. In fact, it's vital to our emotional well being. Connection with family, with friends, with strangers. Seek it. Cultivate it.
Connection means recognizing that we are not alone. It means there are people there to catch you when you fall.
Seeking connection as a parent means sharing a word of empathy with another parent in the thick of a hard day. It means finding your people (in person or even on-line). Find your community. It can change everything.
10. Embrace Imperfection
Everyone is a mess and perfection is a lie. Trying to live in a perfect world will do nothing more than make you crazy. Let it go. Breathe.
Embracing imperfection as a parent means having friends over depsite the piles of laundry, dishes, and dirt. It means accepting your own flaws and those of your partner and your child. It means remembering that everyone has rough days and tomorrow is a chance to start again.
I'd love to hear from you. What would you add to the list?
What is one of your keys to happiness?
(Originally published in 2014)
9 thoughts on “Ten tips to a happier life”
Find a moment during the day to do something I like(drawing,knitting,reading). It sooth me. If I don’t find time, I tell myself, I will have more time for me someday…and That’s is okay.
“Perfection is a lie.” Truth, and yet for some of us so hard to shake not trying to be.
Agreed, Kelly. I wrote this post several years ago and hesitated reposting it as-is. Because in the years between I have developed some additional theories and thoughts about what it beneath our perfectionism, judgement, and lack of presence. Self-worth comes up a great deal, as do the stories we picked up in our own childhood about what makes us worth of love. So much that we could discuss here, but I’ll leave it simply at this: you (and I, and all of us) have value, even in our imperfection. Sending love. R
Oh, yes! I’ve long been pretty terrible at self-care, but a small sliver of time for something that brings joy can change so much. And as my kids have grown I’ve found such truth in your last sentence. Someday does come.
Thanks, I needed this.
Thanks Rachel, very inspiring
Yes I like this very much. I’m reading What Falls from the Sky right now and have been thinking a lot about how I spend my time as my kids’ childhoods whizz past. This also reminds me of your slow summer tips post, that I recently revisited and started making a list of slow old school summer things to do at home this summer.
Rachel – I’ve just binge-read a big pile of your posts (for some reason, Feedly isn’t picking your posts?). Thank you, thank you and thank you again for being a lovely voice of sanity and compassion. I’ve read your blog for years and always, always, I am renewed and inspired by it. You’re great – I wish we lived closer!
Thank you for letting me know, Susie! I think I got that fixed now, but you may have to sign up for it again. So glad you found your way back.