My head’s underwater but I’m breathing fine

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan, ‘Press On’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.” Calvin Coolidge

It seems like each day brings on new challenges. There is the struggle to get the kids up and then to school. Then trying to regroup and focus on your work day for those few hours your kids are at school. Then pick up time, after school snacks, co-curriculum activities, clubs, homework, class projects. Once that hurricane blows through, there is dinner to make, baths, book stories to read and hopefully some quality family time. Then the crazy cycle starts up again the next day with what seems like the blink of an eye. But we persist determined to be the best parent and person we can be to ourselves and to our family. When I come up for air, I sometimes get asked, “You seem so busy. Are you happy?” To that the answer is always yes! Each day is never perfect. There are problems, but happiness is relative. And like all things in my life, I remind myself and my kids that just as you persist to strive and attain goals, we have to strive to be happy. Strive and persist to find the positive things. Those positive things are ALWAYS there.

Grit isn’t just about persevering through the rough times but it’s also about navigating that road of happiness and striving to keep a positive attitude through it all.

Here’s an awesome top 10 list from Dr. Laura Markham on how to help your child begin to develop the habits that lead to happiness. I love how much of it echoes Grit Moms’ guiding principles of Change, Power, Systems and Relationships/Connections. For the full article go to: http://www.ahaparenting.com/parenting-tools/raise-great-kids/emotionally-intelligent-child/happiness

1. Teach your child constructive habits to control her mind and create happiness: managing our moods, positive self-talk, cultivating optimism, celebrating life, practicing gratitude, and appreciating our connected-ness to each other and the entire universe.

2. Teach your child the self-management habits that create happiness: regular exercise, healthy eating, and meditation are all highly correlated with happiness levels. But you and your child may have your own, more personal strategies; for many people music is an immediate mood lifter, for others a walk in nature always works.

3. Cultivate fun. The old saying that laughter is the best medicine turns out to be true. The more we laugh, the happier we are! So the next time you and your child want to shake off the doldrums, how about a Marx brothers movie marathon?

And here’s a wonderful tool: smiling makes us happier, even when we force it. The feedback from our facial muscles informs us that we’re happy, and immediately improves our mood. Not to mention the moods of those around us, and that feedback loop uplifts everyone.

4. Help her learn how to manage her moods. Most people don’t know that they can choose to let bad moods go and consciously change their moods. But practice in doing this can really make us happier.  Of course, we aren’t talking about denial. The first step is always to acknowledge the bad feelings, and let ourselves feel them. So with your child, simply empathizing with her upset feelings will often allow them to dissipate.

But there are times when we just stay in a bad mood, rather than nurturing ourselves through the upset, or choosing to change it. So if you can practice monitoring your own moods and shifting them through self-nurture and self-management, you can teach this skill to your child.

Of course, the hard part is choosing to change our bad mood. You don’t have to go from desolate to cheerful. Just find a way to help yourself feel slightly better. That empowers you to actually face what’s upsetting you, and try to solve it. Sometimes just changing our the way we’re thinking about a situation really shifts things. So, instead of “How can he be nasty to me like that, with all I do for him?!” you might try “It’s normal for children to get angry at their parents.”

How to help your child with her moods?  Sometime when she’s in a good mood, talk with her about strategies for getting into a better mood: what works for her? Share what works for you. Then, when she’s in a bad mood, start by empathizing. After she’s had some time to feel her upset, ask her if she wants help to change her mood.  Even if she’s able to choose a better mood only one out of ten times initially, she’ll soon start to notice how much better her life works when she does it.

5. Model positive self- talk. We all need a cheerleader to help us over life’s many hurdles. Who says we can’t be our own? In fact, who better? Research shows that happy people give themselves ongoing reassurance, acknowledgment, praise and pep talks.

6. Cultivate optimism, it inoculates against unhappiness. It’s true that some of us are born more optimistic than others, but we can all cultivate it. Click here for “How you can help your child become more Optimistic”.

7. Help your child find joy in everyday things. Studies show that people who notice the small miracles of daily life, and allow themselves to be touched by them, are happier. Daily life overflows with joyful occurrences: The show of the setting sun, no less astonishing for its daily repetition. The warmth of connection with the man at the newsstand who recognizes you and your child. The joy of finding a new book by a favorite author at the library. A letter from Grandma. The first crocuses of spring.

As Albert Einstein said, “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” Children learn by our example what’s important in life.

  1. Help your child develop gratitude.

“We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.” — Frederick Keonig

Many people think they can’t be grateful until they’re happy. But look closely and you’ll find that it’s the opposite: people are happy because they are grateful. People who describe themselves as consciously cultivating gratefulness are rated as happier by those who know them, as well as by themselves.

Children don’t have a context for life, they don’t know whether they are lucky or unlucky, only that their friend Brendon has more expensive sneakers. But there are many ways to help children learn to cultivate gratitude, which is the opposite of taking everything for granted. The most obvious is modeling it.

  1. Counteract the message that happiness can be bought. As parents, we need to remember that we are not the only ones teaching our children about life. They get the constant media message that the goal of life is more money and more things. Ultimately, what we model and what we tell them will matter more, but we need to confront those destructive messages directly.

10. Leave room for Grief. Life, as the Buddha said, is full of suffering, and we have daily reasons to grieve. Acknowledging our sad feelings actually gives us more range in feeling our happy ones, and doesn’t cause lingering unhappiness. Choosing to be happy doesn’t mean repressing our feelings. It means acknowledging and honoring our feelings, and then letting them go.

11. Help your child learn the joy of contribution. Research shows that the pride of contributing to the betterment of society makes us happier, and it will make our children happier too. Our job as parents is to find ways for them to make a positive difference in the world so they can enjoy and learn from this experience.

 

 

 

 

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