It’s all about perspective. I’m learning that my attitude is my choice and the way the world interacts with me is like a mirror.
When I walk through my day with judgment, anger and mistrust I experience the same from the people and situations I encounter.
I recently made a decision to try smiling regardless of how I feel on the inside. I usually resist that type of thing because it feels so fake to me. In fact, that is exactly what it is: a fake smile. But, on this particular day, I felt like a fake smile was my best option.
It started on Monday morning. My son was mildly sick with a stomachache and a low fever, which meant he was staying home from school. Typically I respond to my children’s illness with loving care and concern… like a normal “good” parent would. But, this day was different, I was angry. I’m ashamed to say that most of my anger was directed at my sick son who was still well enough to play Legos, watch TV and fight with his sister.
I realized there was a problem with my attitude when I found myself getting way too angry over little things he did. Poor kid!!! I knew I didn’t want the day to continue down that path, so after a few minutes of reading and meditating, I reached out to some friends for help. I shot out a few texts confessing how angry and stressed I was about all of the things that I wanted to happen that week, but would be cancelled because of outside circumstances. The overwhelming response I got back from my friends was change my perspective, focus on what’s positive and stop having a pity party.
Usually this type of advice would just make me more angry and would go in one ear and out the other; but this time, I had to admit they were dead on right. Even reading back over my text, I had to laugh, or at least shake my head at myself.
Meanwhile, my two little children were still running around, destroying the house and vacillating between playing and fighting.
I pulled out my gratitude book and started writing about what I was grateful for. I also noticed I hadn’t written in it for 6 months. Hmm… As I forced myself to think about what was positive in my life my attitude started to change. I still wasn’t happy, but at least I was no longer angry at my sick son, so that was a step in the right direction. I also decided that even if I wasn’t happy at the moment, for the sake of my children, I was going to act as if I was. I put on my fake smile and my teacher voice and I did my best to be gracious and loving in my words and actions.
The amazing thing is that smiles and attitudes are contagious. My kids both seemed happier and closer to me by the end of the day.
I do have to admit that smiling didn’t stop my anger from coming out in full force that afternoon at the park towards a couple of strangers. As my daughter excitedly ran towards the one swing, this grown woman looked at my daughter and quickly sat in the swing to save it for her own child who apparently was more interested in the dinosaur rocking horse. Needless to say, she and her husband were the unfortunate recipients of all my suppressed anger. I guess we never truly move far from what’s deep inside of us. But for that day, for me, and for my children, the smile got us through.