If It's Not Ideal, Can I Be Happy?

So often I think that if everything is not ideal, then I can't be happy.

My side of the family, my sisters and their kids and my parents, all live far away from me in diifferent states and even in a different country. I miss them very, very much. But this summer we got to have a several-week-long family reunion. Before it started, I just knew it was going to be wonderful. Days spent sitting on the dock by the lake, watching the cousins splash in the water together, chatting with my sisters...it was going to be great!

But then I got...a cold. 

I think colds are so obnoxious. They're so commonplace and ordinary, and yet so annoying. So it's not like you have anything to really complain about when you have a cold, but you just feel like crap and want to complain non-stop

I was disappointed. I just didn't feel well. It took me a long time to get rid of the cold...and while I had it, I felt yucky and head-ache-y, and sinus-pressure-y. Not ideal. 

It made me feel like I was not getting the ideal family vacation that I had pictured in my mind. And because it wasn't ideal, I felt like I couldn't be happy. I felt let down.

Or another example: there are so many moments in my day when I'd much rather be doing something else. I don't really feel like plopping down on the floor and playing with my kids, or tuning in to really listen to what they're saying when it feels like they talk without ceasing all day long. 

But I'm finding that if I think that everything has to be ideal for me to find happiness and joy, I will always be reaching for something I do not have.

I will always be waiting for the ideal. I'll always be looking for that feeling of perfection.

And that wanting more than I currently have will rob me of the enjoyment that I could have in the ordinary, everyday moments of my life.

So what I've been trying to do throughout the day is to just stop, look around at all the gifts around me, and take a moment to thank God for what I do have, instead of always wishing for more.

I've been trying to slow down and just look at my daughters. Watch them as they talk, notice them as they play. And in that place, I try to enjoy them; I choose to thank God for their sweetness, for their littleness. Because I won't have it forever. And I don't want to miss it.

During my family vacation, I tried to stop waiting for the perfect moments to come and just thank God  for what was. "Thank you, God, that You are letting me be around my nieces and nephews. Thank You for how special they are...that You chose to place me in a family with such wonderful people." 

I'm discovering that as I slow down and take a moment to thank God for what He's given me, it's kind of like I feel like I don't need the ideal so much anymore. What I have all of the sudden is already enough.