Attitude, or state of mind, is a significant component of our personality. Boiling it down to the basics, you can say that people who are positive tend to focus on things that they can control. They know that their personal happiness depends on how they respond to the stimulus around them, and they choose not to give power and attention to negative stimuli. They do not allow themselves to dwell (for very long) on disappointment because they know that is not productive. Conversely, people who generally have a negative attitude tend to focus on things they can’t control, and they allow themselves to dwell (for a very long time) on everything that is wrong.
I have borrowed the following “dialogue” from social media (with some alterations) as an example:
Fifty years from now, around 2070 AD, when our current students are spending time with their grandchildren, what will the conversation be like?
“Grandpa (Grandma), were you alive during the 2020 quarantine? What was it like? My teacher told me that all the schools were closed, and everyone had to stay in their houses for months. No one could go to the beach or play at the park, and all of the stores and restaurants were closed. There were no sports, graduations, or parties, and you couldn’t even visit with other family members. And many people got very sick and died. It must have been awful.
Well, yes, that is true. There were a lot of people who were very sick, and some did die. But mostly, I remember it very differently. We felt we were helping our country by protecting its citizens and the health care providers who were caring for the sick. I got to spend lots of time together with my mom and dad and brothers and sisters, talking, playing games, cooking and baking, and going on walks and bike rides every day. We read books, made up fun stories, and looked at family pictures. It was one of the best times in my entire life, and sometimes I wish we could slow down again and relive that time.”
Fifty years from now, this dialogue will certainly take place. Can you predict how your children will respond when their grandchildren ask them about this time in history? Will they look back with fond memories, or will they remember it with resentment and anger? We can help our children develop an attitude of positivity by showing them how to recognize the beauty that exists in this present moment. If they regularly practice giving power and attention to the good moments, then they will continue to develop these skills and learn to embrace an optimistic attitude throughout their entire life.
here are many ways to help foster this quality in young children. When you notice that the stress levels are rising, take a break. Do some quick exercises to help them get their endorphins going – jumping jacks, squats, jogging in place, toe touches, for example. Tell lots of jokes and make sure everyone has a new one to share at the dinner table. Plan one, new, fun activity or challenge for the day: it doesn’t have to be monumental – just something to keep everyone motivated. Write down the good things in a gratitude journal – it’s nice to re-read them when you are in a slump. Parents need to take the lead in all of these, and while children may think it’s corny at first, they will join in, and little by little, moods will improve. Attitude is contagious; if one person is miserable it spreads to everyone else. Finally, prayer must be part of every day: by praying for those who are really affected – health care and essential workers, the sick and dying, families who have lost loved ones – we tend not to feel so sorry for ourselves in our current situation. Giving thanks to God for the beauty, bravery, and both the small and large acts of kindness we make a point of noticing is another way.
We can either make the most of this, or the least of it. It looks like we have a few more weeks of shelter-in-place, and it’s not too late to change the paradigm. And now I will take my glass HALF FULL of wine and relax for the evening.