The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes of mind.
—William James, American philosopher and psychologist
Among life’s certainties is this: You will be confronted regularly with situations that do not meet your expectations. Many of these will involve your kids. This is when you want to be at your best.
Often we react in ways that we later regret. There’s a good chance your instinctive response to a difficult or disappointing situation comes from something you picked up in your own childhood. For example, when a parent yells at a child, you can bet that parent was yelled at as a kid.
The key is to acknowledge your typical reaction and choose a different attitude or way of responding.
- When your kids act out, you may choose to be calm and calming.
- When your son or daughter is disrespectful, you may choose to take your time and respond when you are ready.
- You may choose to be understanding.
- You may choose to be easy to talk to.
- You may even choose to be happy!
I once read that, in the midst of a troubled childhood, young Drew Barrymore noticed a sign on the fridge in her foster family’s home: “Happiness is a choice.” As an adult, she remembered how profoundly that idea affected her.
Life will keep serving up problems and situations you’d prefer not to face. Count on it.
But rather than simply reacting the way you’ve always reacted—anger, avoidance, bitterness, frustration, disappointment, giving up—you can CHOOSE a way of being that is consistent with who you want to be for others—and for yourself. Most people—especially our children—like us and feel safer around us when we are happy. What if we chose each day to be happy?
So, when your kids act up, or when the report card isn’t perfect, or when they don’t perform in their recital up to your expectations, who are you going to be?
I vote for being a happy parent.
P.S. Try this: When someone asks “How are you?” reply, “I’m happy.” It will be a reminder of your choice and perhaps add value to their day!