My mother is an exceptional woman. There are so many character traits I can list that support this statement and one I love the most is her pleasant demeanor. My mother is happy. She’s the kind of happy that makes you want to be in her presence. She’s optimistic and is always believing in the good of people. My mother is the kind of woman you want to put in your back pocket and pull out when your day feels down or your spirits are shaken.
She’s that kind of happy.
You don’t find many people like that. And it truly is, in part, what makes her exceptional.
Growing up, my siblings and I were taught so many lessons about living life well, on purpose, and with happiness and humor. And it’s wasn’t as if she drilled lessons into us. They were often more subtle and woven into the fabric of our day-to-day. But they definitely stuck and have had great meaning especially now in adulthood, and with parenthood.
Here are a few of my mother’s lessons that I particularly love. They have not only stuck with me but are lessons from which I know everyone can benefit.
1. If you want to be happy, hang around with happy people.
She always says this! And she is never wrong in saying it. Isn’t it true? You hang with a Debbie-downer and you feel…blah. You hang with a full-of-life friend and you feel like you can conquer the world! That is definitely one of the reasons I like to hang around my Mom. Happy definitely breeds happy.
2. Find the funny side of things.
Everyone is entitled to a bad day, a day filled with tears or concern. And I am sure my mom has had her share (I just don’t remember seeing many of them). And to this day, even the largest of life’s problems, the heaviest stuff I lug into a conversation with her gets met with humor. She helps me see the other side of things, and makes me laugh to boot. Laughter not only does it help, it heals.
3. Make your bed every morning!
This wasn’t one of those “chores” my siblings and I had to do or we didn’t get an allowance. No way. My mom was in the business of teaching us life lessons early, not necessarily paying us for things we needed to do in order to be ready for life. The lesson: feel good and start as soon as you wake up. It was never an option for us — not making the bed. She still believes that starting the day in an organized way makes you feel organized, which can put a spring in your step. It prepares you for the day. It makes your space look serene and gives you an easy and quick sense of accomplishment. Important stuff. And so simple to do.
She is big on this simple action. As a professional speaker/humorist, she speaks of the physiological benefits of smiling to groups all over the country. A simple smile – sends signals of happiness to your brain. Because of the physiology behind it, you feel good when you smile – even if you don’t feel like smiling. As well, a smile you give can change a person’s entire day and because of it, change yours for the better as well. Like making your bed, a smile is a great way to start your day. My mother always suggests when you wake in the morning, look in the mirror and smile. You instantly feel good, not just because of the physiology but because someone is always smiling back. Try it!
5. It takes a lifetime to truly know yourself.
I remember asking my mother this question when I was an early teen, “when will I know myself?”. She answered, “It takes a lifetime, and there are lessons all along the way”. It might have been confusing then but it stuck with me, and looking back now there is so much comfort in that answer. She is right, of course. There is a lesson in every day. You just have to be willing to pay attention and be ready to live life everyday.
Lessons are still being taught; there is always more to question, to discover.
I certainly am still learning. No doubt my Mom is, too.