“Keep your face to the sunshine, and you cannot see a shadow.”- Helen Keller
It’s easy to be positive when the world is buzzing around you, bringing the choicest pollen to make the sweetest honey. I have met people like that, who seem like they have the equivalent of a Disney Fast Pass. No one likes those who don’t have to wait in line for an hour and a half to ride on “The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.” The rest of us are hot, exhausted, and have crying children desperately panting for an ice cream in the shape of Mickey’s head. In those sweaty, Winnie-the-Pooh-less moments, it’s quite difficult to have a positive outlook or to be indeed ‘Tiggerific.’
Those moments make true parenting legends.
What would Tigger do? Would he invent a fun new game to distract them, talk about all the fun they’ve had, or make new friends with the other kiddos waiting? Or would he single out a lone street sweeper passing by innocently and demand to know why life is so hard after spending so much money? (Those poor street sweepers in Disney World have it hard, friends.)
Now, I am not a super dee duper, everything is fantastic, person. I’m not saying to bounce your way through life like Tig, but I will tell you I’m a whole lot happier speaking and thinking positive things.
We, on the southeast coast of the U.S., have just been through Hurricane Matthew gracing us with his angry presence. He wasn’t kind to us, and he didn’t care we were cooped up for 20 hours waiting him out with children going stir crazy. Nor did he care we were without power, gas, or any way to get food for days afterward. He left his mess and then trailed off into the sea. During this ordeal, I witnessed many wonderful parenting moments, all of which sneakily teaching positivity.
I saw fathers roping an oak tree falling towards my friend’s house; they pulled that tree out of harm’s way with everyone cheering.
I saw mothers with toddlers in long lines at the grocery store playing peek-a-boo, keeping them happy and entertained.
I saw teenagers cleaning up a park so children could play again.
I saw neighbors greeting each other, willing to offer any help to elderly citizens.
I saw little girls sing quietly to their quaking dogs, soothing them during the storm.
Our children learn how to be positive in moments like that.
I believe having a positive outlook on life is so closely linked to having a thankful heart; they are almost interchangeable. The exchanges between neighbors with large trees fallen all over the yards went like this, “I am so grateful that it didn’t fall on the house or car.” “We have to be thankful that no one was hurt.” “It could have been so much worse.”
I believe that what comes out of our mouth trains our mind what to think. The students I teach are forbidden to speak unkindly about each other or themselves. The words, “I’m so stupid,” are more grievous to me than a swear word. I want their talk to be complimentary about themselves, others, and their situations and futures. My response to that self-insult is always, “Would you say that about your best friend? Then don’t say it about yourself either. If you say you can’t do something, your brain will start to believe it and give up. You can do anything!”
At the age of 18, I was a negative person. The first thing I decided to do was retrain myself how to speak. I started catching myself saying negative things. Soon, this self-correction made me more aware, and even shocked, when other’s joined in on the negative talk.
Someone saying something negative about my child is glaringly upsetting. How much more hurtful is it to a child when a parent says a negative thing about their child. I do not allow my kids to speak like that to each other either. It’s critical to have the safe harbor at home where a child can feel totally protected from negativity.
Being an optimistic person is essential to good health, and it can also be very rewarding. In a study in Huffington Post, positive people live an average of 7.5 years longer and have a 77% less chance of heart disease than negative people! You are doing a great service to the health of yourself and your child when you portray a positive outlook. It not only changes their mind and heart; it changes their biological makeup. Speak life into each other!
I’ve had my share (more like a buffet) of failures. It is very hard to stay positive when there have been so many things that seem to have gone wrong. I can look back at times I thought I had failed and realize now that I was being spared from something. I have been so grateful that there have been things that never worked out that I wanted so badly. Sharing those times with my children gives them confidence in their futures. It tells them that even if they have a perceived failure, there is always a blessing in disguise. They can always find something positive in any situation. In the words of the excellent writer of Winnie the Pooh, A.A. Milne, “Weeds are flowers, too, once you get to know them.”