One of the many things I appreciate about children is their ability to be happy and optimistic. I admire their resilience and their pure sense of joy. I recently read a book, The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor, which states that 90 percent of happiness does not derive from our current circumstances, but rather from our state of mind.
With everything going on in our world, I have struggled to believe this. It has been difficult to find comfort, peace, and contentment at times. However, watching how my daughter has handled these challenges has convinced me that I have plenty to learn from her.
My precious daughter has taught me…
It’s okay to seek out the “normal” in tough times
As a society, this health pandemic has ripped the normal away. No longer are we allowed to send our children to school, to work as usual, to go to a movie or restaurant, or to make fun travel plans. We lost so much in a very short amount of time. Everything is uncertain and the consequences of this health crisis are frightening and devastating.
The day after they officially shut the schools and the restaurants down in our state, I was reeling and didn’t even want to get out of bed. I was mourning the loss of the life that my family had known, worried about how this would affect so many of my friends in the service industry, and questioning what this meant for the future.
Then I heard my daughter’s happy voice as she searched through her drawers. Her only concern that day was finding something green to wear on St. Patrick’s Day so her big brothers couldn’t pinch her. She also made sure to adorn our dog so she would be safe, too.
This was her big concern in the world.
It made me smile to see this and to know that some things didn’t have to change just because our outside circumstances had.
So through this rough transition, I’ve strived to find a new normal. I attempt to provide some semblance of routine, accomplish at least one thing every day and be grateful for the normal things I can still do. Things I used to take for granted.
You Don’t Have to be Happy All of the Time
My spunky girl is simply fun. She loves to play with her toys and to find reasons to dance and laugh. However, that doesn’t mean she always feels the need to be that way. During this time, she has been frustrated and disappointed. She misses her teachers, her friends, her playdates, and all of the activities we used to do as a family.
When she was told that she couldn’t celebrate her cousin’s birthday with him, she didn’t pretend she was okay. She cried, and yelled that it was unfair. She took a brief moment to express her true feelings, to share her emotions with someone else, and to grieve for what she had lost.
But then an hour later, she was busy playing with her toys again.
I have learned that being happy doesn’t mean that you must smile no matter what. True joy also comes from being free and willing to express even negative emotions. The important thing is to not get stuck or wallow in these negative feelings. Have a killer pity party when you need to, but then move on.
Find Something Fun to Look Forward To
Another thing I love about my daughter is that she always asks this question, “What are we going to do that’s fun today?”
She is not living in the past, nor dreading the future, she is relishing the present. Her idea of fun is simple, too. She knows that we can’t go places right now, but she is very content cooking something yummy, playing a board game or going for a walk. When she sees friends on-line she makes sure to tell them, “I can’t wait until next year when I can see you again.” Even though there is no set time line for when this will be, she is buoyed by the idea that it will happen.
I have tried to incorporate this into my life more. When I am feeling down, I change the way I perceive my situation. I seek to find the positive things in my life instead of dwelling on the negative. Each day I give myself something to look forward to and I spend time dreaming about where I will go once it is safer to travel again. I’ve learned that your life is a reflection of what you focus on.
If you are consciously aware of amazing opportunities and the potential to grow and to flourish, then this is what your life will be full of. And unfortunately, the negative also holds true.
How about you? What important lessons have your children taught you?