Tuesday, March 6, 2012

A Little Cheerfulness

Moving gracefully through our day. Oh, how I have thrashed through that ideal, choking and muttering.

I've never been a happy waker most days. I wake up and I dread whatever lies ahead, and I tend to grouse about it. Well, at least back in my student days. Now I've spent a decade or more internalizing the "be happy and aware" ideal from my forays into Buddhism. I'm still a venerate complainer, but I've found myself willfully shifting my attitude. Why? Simply: my daughter. I do not want my daughter get caught in starting the day with a bad attitude.

I still have a tendency to wail and stomp around when I'm feeling stressed, but that is no excuse to pass it on! So I make a conscious effort to set a positive tone in the morning. For all of us.

I often wake the little girl singing "Good Morning to You" and asking after her night. Did she have a good sleep? Did she have interesting dreams? Is she excited about her day? I smile at her and look at her and listen to her stories of elaborate dreams or fretful worries. If she needs a hug, I pick her up and cuddle her. If she doesn't need a hug, I still pick her up and cuddle her and tell her I love her.

A good attitude is contagious, I'm convinced, especially if one learns it's a good way to start the day. One of many things I've forced myself to learn for the sake of my child. Ha, I must be growing up. Finally.

Things go wrong, of course they do. Things go off course, or maybe the thing I've been assiduously avoiding is now sitting on my shoulder demanding I deal with it. Gah. I don't deal well with stress. I don't act well with stress, I admit it. But I've learned to act around it. I've learned that preemptive graciousness and empathy smooths the day ahead of me.

If I treat myself and those around me with graciousness and empathy, it's much less often that I get to the point of feeling like screaming with frustration. Not that I am perfect at this, no, no, ahaha, no. But a little cheerfulness, it turns out, does set the tone for the day. I'm not talking about faking it, really, just tapping into the generousness that is there for the noticing.

As Thich Nhat Hanh might say, Smile! It's a wonderful morning!
As Dr Laura Markham at Aha Parenting might say, have empathy for yourself and others. Fill your cup.
As the interactive farm toy says on start up, Rise and Shine! It's a Sunny Day!

I've got more to give my daughter when I start our day with cheerfulness and empathy. I give it myself, first. I buckle myself in and then gather her up with a smile. If I can learn to do that, so can my daughter. And if I can do that for my daughter, I can do it for myself, too. Whoa, parenting moment.