1. Get Quiet
We are raising children in a world that is increasingly fast paced. Many parents today are stuck in a constant state of overwhelm. If you meditate or have a mindfulness practice, you already know the value in stillness. Even if you are not interested in meditating, you can bring more peace into your life. Take a walk before picking up the kids from daycare or soak in the bath when everyone else is sleeping. If you are a stay at home mom with little ones at home 24/7 make breaks a part of your day. While your kids play at the park, sit on a bench and focus on breathing and allowing yourself to relax. Observe the beauty all around you and soak up the serenity in the moment whenever you can. Find what works for you to quiet your self and make it a priority.
2. Talk about the good stuff
Excessive complaining, not to be confused with a genuine need for venting and advice, is not serving you. Over the next week, make a conscious effort to reduce complaining. In our society, we are consumed with the negative. We talk about the evening news, political scandals, or local gossip. Although it may not be realistic to avoid all negativity, if 80 percent of your thoughts, conversations, and experiences are focused on the positive, it is likely that you will feel better overall.
3. Teach your children to talk about the good stuff too
Instead of asking your child questions that he can provide a simple yes or no response to, ask questions that are open-ended. Help your child take the time to think about how situations and events made him feel. For example, instead of asking, “How was school today?”, ask your child questions that get him thinking, examining, and talking. Some examples are, “What was the best part of your day?”, “Describe what you like best about the picture.”, “What was your favorite part of the presentation?”, “How does it feel to get an A in Math?”.
4. Practice acts of kindness
Place a nice letter under your son’s pillow thanking him for a way he has contributed recently. Pick some flowers for a vase to place in your daughter’s room. Small acts of kindness bring joy to the giver and the receiver. If you can, extend gestures beyond the walls of family. Pay the parking fee for the man behind you in the parking garage. Offer to buy your friend a cup of coffee. Bring in a dozen bagels for the teacher’s lounge at your kid’s school. Kindness is contagious and can quickly turn a sour mood into a happy one.
5. Start positive journaling
Many people keep a journal as a space where they can express their negative emotions. This is valuable as it gets the thoughts out of your mind and onto paper, making it less likely that you will store it inside. I suggest that you also purchase a separate positive journal. Keep the positive journal as a space for writing down thoughts, dreams, goals, and actions that make you feel good. Martin Seligman, the father of Positive Psychology, refers to these journals as Blessings Journal. You can learn more at www.authentichappiness.com.
6. What went well?
One positive psychology tool is the “What-Went-Well” exercise. This practice involves taking the time to reflect on the positive aspects of our experiences. As mentioned, it is common for people to focus on the negative aspects of a situation or event. Seligman suggests that if you journal every night about three experiences that went well and why, you will end up feeling so good, that you won’t want to stop this practice. Examples can be simple such as my toddler staed in bed all night without a struggle or my husband surprised us all with our favorite treats from Starbucks.
7. Make a habit of being grateful
There are many ways to focus on gratitude. Some tape a gratitude list to their bathroom mirror. Others find that through journaling or silently extending appreciation works best for them. Find a way to have an attitude of gratitude. Susie Walton, the creator of a positive parenting course called, Joy of Parenting, suggests that families have gratitude feasts. Tonight, when you sit down for dinner, take turns expresssing what it is your are grateful for and why. Celebrate all the wonderful aspects of your life - both large and small. You can sign up for free positive parenting videos from Susie Walton by clicking here.
8. Become comfortable with mistakes
No one is perfect. Acknowledge and accept that mistakes are a part of the human experience. Teach your children to look for the beautiful purpose in mistakes they make. A fear of mistakes - and failure - will prevent your child from taking risks and being the innovative and creative individual that he is. Encourage your child to see mistakes or perceived failures as learning opportunities. One fun conversation I enjoy with my kids centers around asking them to tell me a mistake they made and what they learned from it. I take the time to tell them about my own mistakes, sometimes my mistakes even have to do with the way I treated them. During these conversations, I always make certain that my presence and tone excudes curiosity, warmth, love, and acceptance.
9. Catch yourself when you blame others
Your child is not in charge of your happiness. If you blame your frustration and anger on the behavior of your child (or anyone) it will be difficult to feel joy. Allow your happiness and fulfillment in life to come from inside of you. Everyone is at choice in how they feel in any given moment. Once you start acknowledging that you create your reactions to every situation and event, you will begin to feel more freedom and contentment from within. A dynamic course, called Freedom to Be, that is run by Your Infinite Life Training and Coaching Company provides wonderful tools for letting go of blame.
10. Create community
It takes a village to raise a child. The challenge today is that the village can be hard to find. Dr. Susan Wais teaches a beautiful parenting course that is based on positive psychology. Wais tells us that research solidly demonstrates that individuals with a strong support system in place are happier and healthier. If you are raising kids in isolation, make an effort to reach out. Join a parenting group, sign up for a workshop or volunteer at your kid’s school. Getting involved in your community provides a convenient source for making friends and being a part of something meaningful. Sign up for the local 5k or volunteer at your local animal shelter. The list of ways to contribute to your community are endless.