Or Another Round of the Yes, But...Game.
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We were frantically looking everywhere, and we would be late if we didn’t leave the house in three minutes.
When our daughter was in the third grade, her favorite shirt was a royal blue sports jersey with a yellow number 5 on it, and we couldn’t find it. She was convinced that she would not have a good day at school if she wasn’t wearing that shirt. Lots of kids have a favorite outfit at that age, but her attachment was bordering on superstition, which shouldn’t have surprised me; she had learned the behavior. Her dad had the same affliction. He was attached to his lucky golf shirt. A black polo shirt with a wide horizontal white stripe. Once he shot a good round, he would wear the same shirt to play golf until the spell was broken.
Since I was responsible for doing the laundry, it became my job to try to convince them that they didn’t need to have the lucky shirts. The job of keeping everyone happy often falls on Mom. That was certainly the case for me, and not just when trying to overcome the problem of a dirty lucky shirt! Many days went something like this …
“It’s raining outside, so we can’t go to the beach.”
“Yes, but … we have that new board game we can play.”
Or this …
“Why can’t I go? Everyone else is going.”
“Yes, but … would you jump off a bridge just because everyone else was doing it?”
Some days felt like a never-ending round of the yes, but … game, which I now realize was the beginning of my positive thought philosophy.
Offering a positive solution to every problematic situation is just a part of the philosophy. Over the years, I’ve come to believe, and I’ve tried to instill this belief in the other members of my family that being happy is a choice. It really has very little to do with what you are wearing or what activity you are doing. Happiness has everything to do with your state of mind and your attitude.
Whoa! Before your eyes glaze over and you start debating with yourself how impossible it is to live that philosophy, let me tell you, I agree! It is so hard to put into practice—for myself. It’s just like Jennifer Lopez’s character in the movie The Wedding Planner when she said, “Those who can’t do, plan!” Her character was great at planning weddings for others, but the thing she really wanted, which was to be married, she found insurmountable to attain. I found it easy to give my children positive solutions and reminders to check their attitudes, but I often find that it’s hard to do that for myself. This is even truer now that the kids have moved away; it’s just the two of us, and I’ve lost my cheering section.
Therein lies the hack. Staying positive and being happy are so much easier when you have encouragement. At the end of every year, I look back and reflect on the year and set my goals and plans for the new year. Again and again, I find myself referring to this column, my weekly Empty Mess.
Remembering and writing down my happy moments reminds me that I can be my own cheerleader.