By Brigitte Shipman | July 23, 2021. | Autism, Mother Guide, Happiness, Expectations

I just had a great conversation with Patricia Lemer about transitioning our kids from high school to either post-secondary education or into the workforce during our Mother’s Guide Through Autism Podcast interview this week. 

Patty is full of knowledge on many topics but I love how she applies her education, work experience, and gifts into teaching us all some great ways to not only transition our children who are on the autisic spectrum but also how we as their moms can adjust how we view our own expectations of what happiness is to each of us. 

During our interview, Patty gave us all advice on where to begin our own personal journey as a mother guide. Ask yourself this question: What is happiness to me? 

It seems simple enough but once I began to reflect on this question more than one simple answer came up for me.

Happiness to me is an overarching feeling of a life of balance and love. When I know my children are well and thriving in their lives, I feel balance and love. I feel happiness when my family is sitting around our dinner table in conversation and laughter. 

Happiness is when friends and family gather for no reason. When we gather we choose to gather because we enjoy our time together. I also feel love and balance in my work of teaching, speaking, or coaching another mother and see a small step forward in healing her heart. 

I remember asking my son Joseph this question not too long ago. I have asked him this question many times and I generally got the answer without a lot of enthusiasm. He just simply said, “Yes.”

Me being the mother who at the time came from a place of fear and worry wanted more than yes. I wanted yes, and here is why… I took the answer and went on telling myself that at least I did get a “yes” and I reassured myself that all was well. I really didn’t know if it was or not, but I wanted to believe my son was happy.

As I have interviewed more people on the autisic spectrum, I have learned so much about how to process this question and answer it honestly. The truth is, my son thought he was happy but for him happiness was a very broad term. It was a gray question that was difficult to answer in gray when he thinks in black and white. So, yes simply means yes. 

What I have realized is that my perspective of happiness is very different from my sons. I am sure that yours is very different from my interpretation of what happiness is to me. So when you reflect and answer this question, answer for yourself. Once you have done this then begin to apply it to how you would like to support and guide your child into their own happiness. The key is to remember it may look different than yours or mine. 

I looked up the meaning of happiness and here is one way to define it: Happiness is used in the context of mental or emotional states, including positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy. It is also used in the context of life satisfaction, subjective well-being, eudaimonia, flourishing and well-being. Wikipedia

Happiness, I believe, has its own individual beautiful feeling and meaning to each of us.

For today, take a moment to sit in a comfortable safe space and answer what happiness is to you. Then grab your journal and write your answer without expectation and see what comes up for you. 

Once you have journaled what your own personal definition of what happiness is to you, then begin to describe what it feels like in your life. Next, apply happiness in your daily life. Do more of what makes you happy.

Bonus Reflection:

  • When I feel happy I am experiencing…
  • I am happiest when I am…
  • What is my first step today towards living a happier life? 
  • What is my first step to guiding my child towards their own happiness? 

Once you have done this deep reflective work, read all of it back to yourself. Try not to judge what your answers are from this exercise. It is easy to judge when you aren’t living in a happy space. 

Self-love is essential once you have completed this. Thank yourself for taking the time to create a happier life. 

I truly believe anything is possible. Being happier is up to you. You got this!!!! 

Autism Guide Brigitte Shipman Coach

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