Are You Happy?

As every good housewife knows, watching Oprah is a must! I have been watching Oprah daily (or at least recording it daily) since I was in college. I get to watch it about 50 percent of the time. I don't know what I would do without Tivo!

Today, I was finally inspired to start blogging again after watching Oprah. The topic was "Are You Happy?" To tell the truth, I have been thinking about happiness a lot lately, so it was perfect timing.

The reason happiness has been on my mind is that I have found myself lacking it. There is no reason in particular. My husband is quick to point out to me that my life is fabulous, and I don't disagree. I have everything I have ever wanted- an amazing husband, three precious boys, and a house I love (although I wish I could super-size it). So, why have I been unhappy? I chalk it up to winter- sick kids, freezing outside, nothing to break up the monotony of being a housewife. So, here are some ways I can help to make myself happier!

According to research featured on Oprah, 50 percent of happiness is genetic. I think I definitely got the happy gene from my mom. I am a generally happy person, and she is definitely a happy person. She is always good at pointing out the bright side and trying to find the silver lining. So, this statistic is on my side. They also said that 40 percent of happiness can be learned. I don't know where the other 10 percent comes in.

Oprah gave her audience a quiz to test their level of happiness, and one of the first questions was, "Do you make time in your day for complete silence?" I literally laughed out loud. Silence? At my house? Not for me! When I do have quiet time I am either watching Oprah, surfing the web or hanging out with the hubby. I never, ever, sit in silence. It kind of freaks me out! Whenever I can hear the clock in my kitchen ticking I get weirded out. However, research shows that sitting quietly for ten minutes a day increases happiness. Maybe I can make that a goal- it sounds nice!

Another point that made me laugh was when they said that the happiest people get eight hours of social interaction per day. I get eight hours a day of wiping noses and refereeing fights over footballs and cleaning up cheerios from all over the house. I think I might explode if I got eight ours of adult interaction in one day. I will admit that I do notice my mood lift dramatically after going out to dinner with my girlfriends or even having a playdate. Sometimes even a phone call will do it. Being a stay-at-home mom can be a lonely job, even though you are never alone!

Does money buy happiness? J.P. and I were discussing this just last week. I believe that money can not make an unhappy person happy. However, it can make an already happy person happier. I will use myself as an example- I am pretty happy, in general. If I were to win the lottery, I am certain that I would be much happier because I would be able to unload the things that stress me out and make me unhappy (laundry, cleaning the house, money woes). I would also be able to take a lot more vacations, which leads me to my next point.

Life experiences bring more happiness than material items. Although I do love material items, I am still a big believer in this. Let me use a little example to explain: If you bought me a $500 purse, I would love it, and then it would end up in the top of my closet and forgotten about a year later. But, if you took me out for a day of fun-filled activities with my family, it would create life-long memories. It doesn't have to be expensive either- going to a sporting event, the zoo, picnic in the park. This is one reason I take so many pictures- I want to remember all the fun things we do, so the happiness last longer!

For Ben's first birthday, I agonized over what to get him. We have so many toys, and he has a closet full of clothes, but I wanted to get him something special after the year he had. (For more about that click here) We decided to go to Seaside for Ben's first birthday and Thanksgiving. I know he will not be able to remember his first birthday, but I took 700 pictures (literally) to document the trip. I also bought a kit which makes a sandy footprint out of plaster that can be put in a frame- just a little something the remind us of his birthday on the beach. It was so wonderful to be on the beach, making memories with out family, and reflecting on Ben's first year. That is what a first birthday should be about- family, reflection and celebration! I have so many wonderful memories from that trip that I will never forget! I wish I could do that for each of my kids' birthdays every year. Maybe I will when I win the lottery! :)

The last topic I wanted to cover stems from this loaded question: Do you think having children makes people happier? There are many ifs and buts you can apply to this, but my straight up answer is YES. Of course, they have to want the child and be able to support it- but that is a whole different topic. I could write a whole post about this one, but I will try to keep it brief. I believe the happiness and joy that children bring to life far outweigh the stress. Even in the stage I am in- the diapers, toys everywhere, laundry all the time, fighting and tantrum stage- I still find it joyous. My kids stress me out, they make me mad, they cost a lot of money and they cause me to go a little insane sometimes. But, at the end of the day, they make me smile more than anything else in the world. Every night I check on them before I go to bed, and they just make my heart melt. I can't imagine life without them! (Okay, enough gushing!) The research featured on Oprah said that happiness initially decreases, but returns after children turn 18, and that it really goes through the roof when grandchildren are introduced. I disagree, but I understand where they are coming from.

As I try to make it through Winter with a smile on my face, I will have to remind myself of all I have to be happy about. I will take my kids to the aquarium or look through my Seaside albums or even call up a friend for a nice long chat. And, I know for sure one thing will make me happier: sunshine!