On Mother’s Day, you might give your mom a book or a thoughtful card. You might call to tell her you love her. You might take a moment to reminisce about your fondest memories together.
But one of the greatest gifts you can give your mother is recognition. Whether it takes a few words or a few hours, acknowledging your mother’s hard work is music to her ears.
Today I’d like to take the time to acknowledge my Mom for being a positive, powerful influence in my life. Here are a few of the valuable lessons she has taught me on living well and being a happy person inside and out:
Lessons On Living A Positive Life I learned from my Mom:
- Move your body. My mom taught me that taking care of your body is crucial to being the happiest person you can be. If you don’t have your physical energy in good shape, then your mental energy (your focus), your emotional energy (your feelings), and your spiritual energy (your purpose) will all be negatively affected. Sure exercise keeps your weight in check and you feeling confident in your favorite pair of jeans. But exercise actually has the power to make you a happier person. Moving your body creates chemical responses in the brain, which lead to both temporary and long term mental health benefits. It releases dopamine (“happy chemicals”) in your brain, eases stress, increases energy, combats insomnia, and does wonders for your confidence. Taking good care of your body can and will keep your heart happy, help you maintain a healthy weight, and bring you a positive outlook on life.
- Eat An Inspiring Diet. To eat is a necessity but to eat intelligently is an art. My mom brought us up to eat a colorful diet filled with whole foods and variety. She would shop at the farmer’s market, garden, and cooks real, delicious food. There was always room for indulgences (she is famous for her chocolate chip cookies) and she was an excellent role model for an “eat to live not live to eat” mentality. Growing up dinner time was a family event and we often cooked something with the fresh ingredients from our backyard fruit and vegetable garden. Because we are what we eat, we can literally transform our minds into happier ones by eating an inspiring diet. She raised me to learn that when you eat good foods you feel good too, and happiness comes from being well- fueled.
- Help Others. My mother worked full time as a pediatric nurse but even when she was off the clock she was always lending a hand to others. She taught me that happiness is attained by giving it away without expectation and those who help others are eventually helped. As far as physical health benefits, performing an act of kindness releases serotonin in your brain. Serotonin is a substance that has tremendous health benefits, including making us feel more blissful. Selflessly helping someone is a powerful way to feel good inside. The happiest people you will ever meet will be those who lose themselves in the joy and challenge of helping others.
- Learn to forgive. My mom’s typical response to a negative or upsetting event is forgiveness. She’ll would something like, “It’s ok. I’m going to let it go and move forward.” This is an excellent way to handle conflict because harboring feelings of hatred or resentment is horrible for your well-being. That’s because your mind doesn’t know the difference between past and present emotion. When you ‘hate’ someone, and you’re continuously thinking about it, those negative emotions are eating away at your immune system. You put yourself in a state of hate and it stays with you throughout your day. In contrast, showing forgiveness is a form of compassion and love, which is a much happier state of living your life. My mom showed me that forgiveness is a constant attitude of choosing happiness over hurt – acceptance over resistance. And that forgiveness creates a space to let go and love more.
- Live in gratitude. When you appreciate what you have, what you have appreciates in value. Being grateful for the goodness that is already evident in your life will bring you a deeper sense of happiness. My mother lived in a state of gratitude and was constantly affirming the things she was grateful for. Studies have shown practicing gratitude can center you, help you live in the moment, enhance your relationships, help you overcome hurdles, improve your health, and motivate you to reach your goals. Feeling grateful for what you have can produce the good feelings that keep you moving towards the happy life you want. Click here to learn more on how to practice gratitude in your life.
- Live by the Golden Rule. My mother raised us by this rule: “…thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” or “treat others the way you want to be treated”. It’s known as the “Golden Rule” or ethic of reciprocity. Mom was right again: the rule of treating others as you would want to be treated in their place will ultimately lead to your own happiness. Think about it: let’s say you apply the Golden Rule in all of your interactions with other people, and you help your neighbors, you treat your family with kindness, you go the extra mile for your co-workers, you help a stranger in need. Now, those actions will undoubtedly be good for the people you help and are kind to and people will treat you better. But, beyond that, you will find a growing satisfaction in yourself, a belief in yourself, a knowledge that you are a good person and a trust in yourself. Of course, there are exceptions and logic arguments with the Golden Rule and if taken to extremes it falls apart. I’m not concerned about that stuff. The truth is, on a day-to-day basis, living by the Golden Rule will make those around you happier, will make you a better person, and will make the community you live in a better place.
- Savor life’s joys. My mom taught me that the best things in life are free. There is absolute joy and wonder to be had in the simplest of moments. Watching the sunset over the horizon or spending time with a family member making jam in the summer (triple berry anyone?). Deep happiness cannot exist without slowing down to enjoy the joy. It’s easy in a world of wild stimuli and omnipresent movement to forget to embrace life’s enjoyable experiences. When we neglect to appreciate, we rob the moment of its magic. It’s the simple things in life that can be the most rewarding if we remember to fully experience them. Make it a point to regularly celebrate all of the little things in life and you will be a happier person inside and out.
My mom taught me that all of the lessons above are habits and thoughts we can choose to bring more happiness into our lives. That’s the thing about living a positive, happy life: it is a conscious choice. It’s not always an easy choice and creating healthy habits may challenge you at times. But doing so will allow you to break free from the mold and truly live more of life – to experience it and enjoy it to the fullest, instead of settling for a mere existence.
To my mother who taught me how and showed me the way: Thank you. I love you. I will celebrate the momentous mother that you are today and always.
Happy Mother’s Day to you,
Other Things To Check Out This Week:
- What I pack to stay healthy when I travel.
- Relief for sore, tired, achy feet. High heel therapy.
- 25 minute total body circuit workout for travel.