H is for...Happiness.

H is for...Happiness



I have a 7 year old who counts his thunderstorms instead of his rainbows. One bad event in a day can erase 10 good events and he has suddenly had the "worst day ever". Unfortunately, he is not the only one on this planet who has this perception.

The rest of our family does not let one bad event ruin the day. That being said, we have worked with him and read a lot about the subject. And while I would love to make sure his day is perfect, that's not possible.

Happiness is based on your perception.  

When we lived in an apartment in Austin, TX we were frequented by a stray cat. It was the skinniest thing I ever saw and I couldn't help myself, I put a can of tuna out for it each day. Well, the cat sure enjoyed that and continued coming around, although we never interacted with each other as it was skittish. But I was content with my pet cockatiels and helping the poor skinny kitty.

One day the cat was sitting proudly on our patio next to a dead bird. I thought "Oh no! He's letting me know what he wants to do to my pet birds!" So I tried to make the patio less inviting by removing our chairs. I headed off to school and told my friend about the "sick message" Miss Kitty sent me. She was a cat lover and began laughing at my story. "That wasn't a sick message, Miss Kitty was giving you a present for being kind to her." OMG, I felt so terrible for being mean to the cat and went home and reset the patio furniture, letting Miss Kitty know she was welcome back.

An interesting experiment was done regarding perception and noted on CreativityPost.com:
http://www.creativitypost.com/create/change_the_way_you_look_at_things_and_the_things_you_look_at_change

"John Bargh and his colleagues at New York University asked their volunteers to do a mental task involving words relating to old age, such as "wrinkled", "grey" and "bingo". A second group was shown words unrelated to old age. The researchers then said the experiment was over and secretly recorded the time each participant took to walk down the long hallway to the exit. Those with old age on their mind took significantly longer to walk down the corridor."
Being able to change your perception is a useful skill as it can also help you manage your pain. But how do we change our perception?

Here are things we have tried with some success with our own son:
-Take turns at dinner sharing 2 good and 1 bad thing about your day. This will help everyone see that bad things happen each day, to everyone, but it doesn't have to ruin our day. It is also important to tell how you managed the bad event so they have ideas for how to manage their own bad events.
-Remind them that while they cannot control everything that happens in the day, they can control how they react to those things.
-Tell them that if they look around and only see the bad things around them, their day will be bad. They need to start looking for the good to make their days better.  Count the rainbows not the thunderstorms.
-Be an example of optimism. When something goes wrong, find a positive spin on it. "My favorite pen quit working....but that's ok, I can buy a brand new one or even better...I can find an even cooler pen!"


My son has begun saying (with no prompting) "I just know that today is going to be a great day." He is far happier than he was when he saw the world through the pessimistic lenses. In the words of Ice Cube "Check yourself, before you wreck yourself!"

Just Can't Lose by the Aquabats is one of the best examples of having optimism during bad circumstances! Here's the lyrics...great song too.


"Just Can't Lose" by The Aquabats

I can’t open the door to my car anymore
But I don’t care
You don’t call me on the phone anymore
But I don’t care
I got hit on the head with my new surfboard
And it’s making me bored
Cuz I don’t know I don’t care anymore

I got a littering ticket at the dump
Such a tragedy
My parents fired me for mowing my lawn
Finally
My hair gel’s obsolete
My shoes don’t fit on my feet
Juicy Fruit’s not as sweet
Cuz I don’t know I don’t care anymore

Must be a voodoo doll with my name on it
Maybe a black cat has crossed my path
But I never get sad and I never look back

Cuz no matter what I do
I just can’t lose
And even if I do
I’ll jump your bike
Right off of your roof
Cuz if I crash real bad
Your sister will think I’m rad
No matter, no matter what I do
I just can’t lose

I stepped on a crack and
It broke my momma’s back
But she’s okay
I’m a hypochondriac and
I think I had a heart attack
But I’m okay
Things are looking up
Didn’t get hit by a bus
Maybe I’m starting to care
A little more than before

Must be a voodoo doll with my name on it
Maybe a black cat has crossed my path
But I never get sad and I never look back

Cuz no matter what I do
I just can’t lose
And even if I do
I’ll jump your bike
Right off of your roof
Cuz if I crash real bad
Your sister will think I’m rad
No matter, no matter what I do
I just can’t lose

Yeah I broke my leg but
I guess that’s just my style
It’s a victory because
It made your mamma smile

Cuz no matter what I do
I just can’t lose
And even if I do
I’ll jump your bike
Right off of your roof
Cuz if I crash real bad
Your sister will think I’m rad
No matter, no matter what I do
I just can’t lose

And even if I do I can always move
And even if I do
I can auction off all of your shoes
You lose

Comments

Clao Wue said…
I read this some days ago and I think it fits to your article about Happiness:
"A pessimist stands in the rain - and the optimist ist taking a shower under the clouds."
Deborah Roach said…
Clao, that's perfect! I have a little book of quotes that are important to me...that one is going in the book! I'll share that with my kids too..it's perfect.
Nice to see a positive post...
https://francishpowellwriter.wordpress.com/2016/04/09/h-is-for-how-to-write-a-killer-short-story/
Anna Levenson said…
My 11 year old can be that way too, but as he grows up it gets less and less. Great post! Happy days!
Anna Levenson said…
Also, I've always been fascinated by this idea of perception. Great article. Very interesting study!
D.A. Roach said…
Thank you Anna!
D.A. Roach said…
PowellFrancis - thank you!!

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