Be nice. Be kind. Be happy. Use your energy to do good things. Smile. Keep your heart good. Treat others in a way that you would want them to treat you. Choose to do what is good. Share. Love each other. Look at each other and smile. Apologize. Forgive. Do good; it will make you feel happier when you feel sad, angry or lonely. Be nice. Be kind. Be happy.
If I had a penny for every time I have spoke these words to my children, well, I’d have a really heavy piggy bank. My children are no different than other kids their ages who are searching for their voices and discovering their abilities. They want to be heard. They want to make decisions. They want control. They want to lead. They want to be included. They want their independence. They want to know that they are loved. They want to show their love. They want to learn. They want to discover. They want to play. They want. And want. And want some more. Sometimes they want things so bad that they don’t want to listen. They don’t want to share. They don’t want to be helpful. They don’t want to be kind. They don’t want to give up. They don’t want to try. And when they start to focus on what they don’t want, they turn into scary creatures. They become unhappy. They do things they later regret. They throw tantrums. They say hurtful things. They do hurtful things. And then they become even more unhappy because they realize doing and saying those things do not make them feel any better.
I witness this roller coaster of emotions every day. Some days I am better at giving my children the space they need to ride that roller coaster by themselves. Some days I get close to jumping on the roller coaster with them. Some days I am in the front seat of that roller coaster screaming with my hands waving in the air. And many days I try my best to slow that roller coaster down because it’s just too unbearable to watch over and over and over again.
All I want is for my children to be happy. And I want them to be happy in a good way. I want them to find happiness in sharing with others instead of being greedy. I want them to find happiness in doing nice things for others without expecting anything in return. I want them to find happiness in showing love and accepting love. I want them to find happiness in doing activities on their own. I want them to find happiness in doing activities with others. I want them to find happiness in simplicity, and I want them to find happiness in chaos. I want them to find happiness by searching for what is good. I want them to find happiness by focusing on what is good.
My husband teases me a lot about giving my children long-winded explanations when they misbehave or let their emotions get the best of them. But I can’t help it. I want so badly for them to understand that they will be happier when they focus on what is good and choose to do good. So, when I witness an argument because one kid started singing or the other kid started making monster noises, I can’t help but say something like, “Let’s find a mature way to handle this situation,” or “Let’s solve this problem in a peaceful way.” And when one of my children tries to run away from me in public or decides to do the opposite of what I request, I can’t help but say something like, “Let’s focus on doing what is helpful,” or “Let’s choose to do good, like Batman, because he would be really glad to know that there is a kid like you helping him out.”
I say these phrases over and over and over again because I know my kids will get it someday. They may not understand what the hell I am trying to teach them now, but they will someday. I repeat these phrases because I need to hear them, too.
I had an eye-opening experience a few weeks ago while shopping at Home Depot. I have been doing a lot of reflecting ever since, and I have concluded that I am a big hypocrite.
Here’s what happened. The kids and I had dropped my husband off at Great Clips so he could get a haircut. It was a Sunday, so we were busy running all sorts of errands either before or after hockey practice. I decided it would be best to entertain the kids at the nearby Home Depot instead of waiting inside the packed Great Clips where everyone and their mothers were getting their hair done. I parked the car. And before exposing myself to the frigid tundra once again, I paused and took a deep breath. I closed my eyes. I took another deep breath. There was a moment of silence in the backseat. The kids were probably wondering what was wrong with me. But I just needed to take a deep breath before doing anything else. After my little moment, I got the kids out of the car and we ran as fast as we could to warm up again inside Home Depot. As I was getting the kids settled in a shopping cart, an older woman placed her hand on my shoulder and asked me if I was okay. I was confused by her question, and even more confused by the look of concern on her face. I said I was fine and explained that I was just having some trouble lifting my son into the cart. However, she was not satisfied with my answer. She said she saw me in my car and was worried because I looked so tired. I gave a little nervous laugh and said that I was just trying to catch my breath.
I didn’t know what to make of this encounter at first. Initially, I felt a little insulted. I could understand why the woman would be concerned if she had witnessed one of my kids throwing a tantrum or something along those lines. But my kids were actually behaving really well at the time. After strolling through a few aisles, though, I began to appreciate the woman’s concern. I realized that even though I was in a good mood and feeling happy, it wasn’t apparent to that woman. I was tired. I was cold from getting my kids out of the car. And I was not smiling. I was not embracing the moment with all of my heart. I was allowing my exhaustion and the weather to hold me back from fully enjoying what was good. I was happy, but I could have felt a lot happier.
Ever since that encounter, I have been trying to listen more carefully to the many phrases I say to my children every day. I want them to understand that happiness is not hard to find. I repeat these phrases because I know they will get it someday. But I have to show them, too. Maybe my husband has a point after all. Maybe I give too many long-winded explanations. Perhaps I should focus on how I can do a better job of showing my children that happiness is not hard to find. Perhaps I can do a better job of showing my children how small acts of kindness may have big effects. Perhaps I can do a better job of showing my children that we may be able to achieve more when we choose to use our energy to do good and to focus on the good.
Perhaps I need to show my kids that I can have fun splashing in puddles, too.
Life is not perfect or easy. Good and bad things have happened; good and bad things do happen; good and bad things will happen. But we can choose to focus on what is good. We can choose to create more good in our community. We can choose to feel good. I am not any closer today than I was a year ago to discovering my purpose in this world, but I do know that I want to help create more happiness in this world. Since leaving my full-time job last June, I have made it a priority to create more happiness in my heart and in my home, but let’s face it, I’ve been selfish. You deserve a happy heart, too. You deserve a happy home, too. We need to make happiness–good happiness–a priority in our community.
My heart has been filled with much happiness this past week. The snow is melting. The sun is shining. I no longer feel the need to curse when my skin is exposed to the air. The kids and I were able to go for a long walk outside yesterday. I got a little pampered at work this week. And I get to look forward to going on a date with my husband this weekend. Yes, I am feeling happy, but I won’t be selfish. I am going to share my happiness with you because Pharrell is right, happiness is the truth. To share my happiness, I have decided to host another giveaway. This giveaway is extra special because it is all about creating and spreading happiness and kindness. So what am I giving away? Well, I don’t know exactly what yet. I do know that it comes in a box–a Be Nice Box.
I stumbled upon the Be Nice Box website a few weeks ago, and it was love at first site. I am a sucker for a good story that involves taking chances to pursue a dream. And when I find a good story, I want to share it. The Be Nice Box is a subscription-based service. Each month, customers receive a box in the mail that contains some goods to be used for spreading happiness in the community and doing kind acts for others. This project was started in the past year by a nice Minnesotan who wanted to focus on the good in life, which makes me love this story even more. You can read more about her story here and here. Isn’t this lovely? Don’t you feel all warm and fuzzy inside now? Do you want your own box? Good, because I ordered one box for me and another box for one of you. I have never ordered a Be Nice Box before, so I am looking forward to seeing what this is all about! If you want to join me, click on the Rafflecopter link below to enter this nice little giveaway before 11:59 PM on Friday, March 21 (to enter, you must be at least 18 years of age or older and you must be a resident of the 48 contiguous United States and District of Columbia).
Did you click on the link? Sweet! Now let’s pay it forward. Let’s be nice. Let’s be kind. Let’s use our energy for good. Smile. Let’s be happy.
Disclosure: This is not a sponsored giveaway. I am simply a happy blogger who wants to focus on spreading more cheer in this world. Don’t worry, I didn’t break the bank. Each box is only $15, and shipping is free. Oh, Be Nice Box also donates $1 to charity for each box purchased. Pretty nice, huh?