Are you or your family suffering from cabin fever, feeling a bit crabby, or just finding it really hard to see the beauty-the blessings-amidst a difficult season?
I have some suggestions for you to help bring the fresh and invigorating air of hope and possibility back into your home.
Look for the good.
I know. I sound like a goody two shoes who lives in a world of blue skies and green grass, where everyone is happy, happy, happy all the time. What I am, though, is someone who isn’t necessarily a bundle of joy all the time, but I am also a gal who learned long ago that I select my attitude by where I place my focus. I wrote in a previous post about an eye opening exercise I did with our two daughters, and I highly recommend running through it for yourself or for your children.
Choose to see the lone flower blooming amongst the trash, or the lovely rainbow that shimmers in a mud puddle. Kids are naturals at this, and we tend to dismiss the treasures they discover with a “Yes, yes, but we need to get going” or “Don’t touch that! Can’t you see it’s dirty?” When you begin again to view the world through the wondrous eyes of a child, you will be surprised by all the beauty you’ve been missing.
Ask quality questions
We made this a habit at the dinner table by asking the same question each night: What was good about your day today? The question forced us to think about the positive, as opposed to suffering through another annoying complaint fest in which we would recount all the ways we were each wronged that day. Other families had the standing mealtime question, “Tell me about the most interesting thing you learned today.”
Knowing that there is an expectation of being asked, kids and parents will often get into the habit of watching for and noting quality moments to bring to the table. There are also great books, such as 150 Quick Questions to Get Your Kids Talking, by Mary deMuth, or card packs, such as TableTopics for the Family, that will help transform your table talk into a true blessing.
Change your perspective
Very often children are apt to see new setbacks as devastating because they don’t have a frame of reference for overcoming challenges. In other words, they haven’t walked through the firepit and come out the other side, changed, but hopefully wiser for the experience with the recognition that they made it through. For these times, you can pose this question to yourself and your family: What is another way we can see this? You can physically model walking around as though you are viewing the issue from a different perspective, or gently encourage your child to change their posture to change their point of view. Tell them that you are curious what happens when they sit upright, put their shoulders back and take a couple of deep breaths. This can help bring you and your children out of your curmudgeonly mode because of the change in your physiology, and because it forces your focus onto the positive.
Have some great reading material at hand, such as humor or inspirational, to get a lift or show you a different strategy. Michael Hyatt of the Intentional Leadership blog has a piece on regaining your perspective that can be another tool in your kit.
Just remember that whenever there are trials and tribulations, there is always something to be gained and something to be learned. I recently read a cute parable of a teacup, and was reminded that it was pounded, molded, spun, and fired in incredible heat to become its beautiful self. I wrote about being “sugared off”, where maple sap is boiled down and transforms into sweet and golden syrup. These trials-pressure and heat-create something better and different, but we tend to focus on the pain rather than how it shapes us.
Document your blessings
Build a reference library of the goodness that overflows in your life. There are wonderful ways to do this. You can take pictures every day or once a week to document the joy, and make sure they are available in some sort of album, not just languishing on your camera card.
Keep a running list of blessings just as you would keep a grocery list: my husband’s smile, the flowers blooming on my window sill, the laughter of my girls. Sometimes when you are very low, you may find it hard to contribute to this list, but even the smallest joy deserves and needs to be noted.
Gather mementos of feeling blessed and put them in a scrapbook or on the fridge: movie tickets from a date night with your husband, dried flower petals from the daisy your child brought to you, whatever it is that will prompt you to change your point of view to gratitude.
We all go through difficult times, and as my mom always told me, You don’t have to look far to find someone who is in a much tougher place than you. She was so very right about that. (Thanks, Mom!)
For example, since you are reading this, I am going to say that you are blessed by a computer, the internet, a friend who shared this message with you, your vision, the ability to read and comprehend, your freedom to view what you wish, the ability to take in a new idea and fit it into your personal paradigm.
I am inviting you to just look around at your life with a fresh perspective, to poke your head up out of that dark hole, or turn your face to the light, even if you have to imagine it. I am not discounting the difficulty, but asking you to consider that the key is to not wallow, but rather to embrace the blessings you can find wherever you are. Remember that even the caged bird sings.
Challenge: Find a blessing in the midst of a difficult situation today.
Action: Start to document your blessings, whether through conversation, photos or lists.
And please share below-I’d love to hear how we can help support or celebrate one another on our journeys!
Sharing at No Ordinary Blog Hop
Image Credit-Louise Docker