I wanted to share few other helpful tips I gleaned from the “THINK” interview on stress-free and happy living. (My first article on the 5 principles for stress-free living) These are great insights, little life “lessons” to discuss with your whole family!
- Smiling really does trick your brain into being happier! Reminds me of a slightly obnoxious song that has stuck with me since church camp over 20 years ago, “Smile, Don’t you know God loves you! Come to think of it, I love you, too. Take the time to smile at someone and before you’re through, someone will be smiling back at you.” And then there’s the classic “Put On a Happy Face” song that Ellie and friends “dance” to each week in ballet. But research backs these songs up! A study done on people who had gotten Botox and were unable to frown showed that they were happier as a result. Hmmm….So maybe instead of wallowing with our kids in their funks, we should occasionally try a different approach: “Hurry, SMILE!“…”Betcha can’t smile for 1 minute straight!“… (or reverse psychology) “Whatever you do, DON’T Smile!”
- Speaking of happy faces, the author suggest that when you greet your family members at the end of the day or at “pick-up” time, imagine that you haven’t seen them for 10 days! (So, don’t walk in the back door and say, “Something smells rotten in here!” like Dustin did the other day…I have to give him credit for coming over to kiss me at the kitchen sink after that, though.) This parallels with the question I have on my fridge for myself regarding greeting my children each day, “Do your eyes light up?” It really affects the energy and enthusiasm I give them upon each reunion, even if I have to “fake it to make it.” Want more ideas for re-connecting/ re-uniting? See my article, “Back to School: Re-connecting rituals” and get inspired by my favorite movie scene of all time from “Love Actually”, the arrivals gate at Heathrow airport, play video
“Worry is an insult to the wisdom of my God.”
- Think of the space in your mind as PRIME real estate. He says we should be intentional about the thoughts we fill it with, just as we are intentional about the foods we eat. Don’t waste time thinking badly of bad people, because that means you’re not thinking well of good people. He challenged, “If your inner thoughts were displayed up on a big billboard, would you be embarrassed?” Neither should we fill up our mind with needless worries. Don’t let your mind get overwhelmed with choices. (There are over 50 types of floss you can select from in the drug store nowadays….does it really matter?) Ask yourself, “Will it matter in 5 years?” If not, tell yourself, “It’s not a big deal.” WARNING: You could try teaching this kind of perspectiv to your teenagers, but you won’t have much luch with your little ones. They can’t really think 5 years ahead, much less 5 minutes…They are all about the misery you’ve caused them because you won’t let them have that 2nd cookie RIGHT NOW! So the best thing you can do is offer the compassion component, and tell yourself, that the fussing and tantrum that ensues is not a big deal in the scheme of things.Either that, or the 2nd cookie isn’t….While their pre-frontal lobe is still developing, try cheering them up with this great song and funny video, a favorite of mine from childhood: “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” by Bobby McFerrin. I bet it’ll just cheer you up, too.
- Don’t discount the POWER of POSITIVE Thinking! Research shows that having positive thoughts about someone else has the same neurological effect and biological benefit as someone being kind and complimentary to you…your brain cannot distinguish between reward-getting and reward-giving. Pretty cool, huh? So, compliment people. Create positive stories and thoughts about the people around you each day. Wish them well. (Here’s an example from walking in the mall as you see a Dad comforting a child who has fallen down. “Oh, what a kind dad taking good care of his son. I wish them well.”) See the world and its people through “heart-shaped” glasses!
- Suffering is pain that has not yet found meaning…look for the meaning to reframe the suffering. This does NOT mean that “All things happen for a reason.” It means that with patience and an open heart, some meaning (or “lessons”) will evolve out of every painful situation, and that suffering is made more tolerable when we are able to embrace that meaning. When we reflect on the love, the compassion, the insights gained, the strengthened character, faith, or bonds – the “gifts” of a difficult situation, then the suffering is diminished.
- With children, the most powerful thing we can do is to model compassion and gratitude between partners and within the family unit. And research shows that this gratitude and compassion lowers stress levels for our kids. (And we all know that stress is a major issue for many kids today.) When tackling misbehavior in children, remind children about their intrinsic “goodness”, assume positive intentions, and give kindness a chance. Keep this in mind, too: children are much better at forgiveness when asked for it.
- You must have compassion for YOURSELF before you can share it with others. Unfortunately this is hard for some of us mommies, but it is so important for the emotional health of our own children so that we might teach them to do the same. His tip for this: Look at yourself through the eyes of the person who loves you the most, NOT through those who may dislike you…we must learn to let that go. My ritual as each class enters music is to sing a little song inviting them to “Come sit on the rug, and give yourself a hug“, during which we pause and say, “I love ME!” How do you show compassion to yourself each day?