Achieving Happiness Column
By Tom Muha, Ph.D.
Making the most of mother’s day
could be one of the happiest days of your life. In the next few hours you could
do something that will create one of the most meaningful exchanges with another
human being that you’ll ever have in your lifetime.
day gives you the opportunity to express gratitude to your mom, the individual
who is probably the most important person in your life.
no one better to focus your feelings of appreciation on than your mother, who
almost certainly has done many good things for you. She was the one who took
care of you when you were sick, gave you encouragement when you were
struggling, and is proud of your accomplishments.
it covered,” you’re thinking because you’ve already sent the card, perhaps some
flowers as well. Now you’ll make the obligatory phone call or take mom out to
any of that make today one of the highlights of your life? No, it will simply
fulfill your obligation, rendering today as unremarkable as any other Mother’s
day of years gone by.
a card to express your feelings is like eating canned vegetables. It lacks the
freshness and flavor of the real thing, providing convenience over
amounts of appreciation combined with an emphasis on the negative events of the
past are the two most important factors that undermine an individual’s sense of
satisfaction in life. It’s what makes the difference between having a “ho-hum”
life versus an “oh wow!” life.
you want to be downright unhappy, dwell on the wrongs of the past and continue
to express bitterness regarding those bad events. You’ll immerse yourself in a
never-ending cycle of unpleasant emotions.
these habitual ways of thinking about your life is one of the most powerful
methods for giving yourself feelings of serenity and contentment. Increasing
the amount of gratitude you experience over the positive events in your past
will greatly enhance your happiness in the present.
Achieving happiness in relationships happens
when we remember the positive experiences and focus on the good qualities of
you learn to deal with your mother has a profound influence on how you interact
with loved ones throughout our life. If you haven’t developed an immensely
appreciative relationship with your mother, today you have an excellent
opportunity to take a big step in that direction.
Seligman has a magnificent exercise in his book Authentic Happiness that is
perfect for Mother’s day. He has found that taking some time to write out a one
page testimonial expressing gratitude helps people to recall their strongest,
most positive memories.
focusing on how your mother has made a major positive impact on your life will
help you to get in touch with your most heartfelt feelings of being grateful
and enable you to savor the good memories that you have of your mom.
you’ve written your one page expression of gratitude for your mom, make two
copies and laminate both of them. Then, if at all possible, take your
testimonial and go see your mother.
you’ll be able to be with your mom, look her in the eyes and slowly read to her
what you’ve written. Maintain eye contact as you express your gratitude, and
allow for an unhurried reaction. Bring lots of tissues because there won’t be a
dry eye in the house.
you can’t see her in person, call her on the phone. If she’s passed away, you
can hold a mini memorial service in her honor. Give your mother one of the
laminated copies of your testimonial, even if it means leaving a copy at her
you have a choice about how you are going to live your life. You can rush
through it, skimming across the surface, disconnected from your emotional
center. You can try to make yourself feel good by doing whatever gives you
pleasure - TV, golf, food, fishing, etc.
you can create some quiet time to reflect on what is wonderful about your mom.
You can fill your heart with joy as you recall those touching times that you’ve
shared. You can heighten your awareness of your mother’s great qualities.
can memorialize this moment by writing these precious memories down. And if
you’re lucky enough to still have your mom around, you can make her feel
fantastic by telling her what a blessing she’s been in your life.
Tom Muha is a psychologist in
Annapolis. He welcomes your comments and questions. To contact him call (443)
454-7274 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.