I have been working to teach a 9 year old to “find the good” in situations instead of letting negative outcomes shut her down. I have informed her that my initial reaction to certain situations is to shutdown and let the negative feelings take over. When the situation passes and it was not as dismal as I anticipated, I cannot reclaim the time lost while I was shutdown.
Throughout my life, I have shutdown many times and lost a lot of time that I cannot reclaim. It has been many years since I have used this coping mechanism but it is always lurking. When it starts to creep in, I ask myself, “What is good in this situation?” Sometimes, finding the good is easy and instant. Sometimes, it takes a few minutes to find it. I have learned that a “grain of good” is enough to pull me out of a shutdown. Finding the good can be as simple as, “I know this situation will not last forever” or “Later today, I am going to a fun event”. Finding the good helps me refocus my attention and I start to feel better about the situation.
When talking to the 9 year old, I put emotions and happiness in the context of a flower that opens wide to embrace the sunshine and closes good and tight during the night. Certain situations make our flower close swift and tight. It closes so fast, we believe that it is out of our control. We go from enjoying a moment to wanting to curl up and cry. But, to get through life, we have to force our flower open, we have to find the “good” in the moment and keep our flower from slamming shut. If we miss the moment, we have to quickly find a good thought to get out flower to open up. It may not open fully at first but a partially open flower is much better than a flower that has slammed shut.
No one is happy all the time, not even the people that we perceive to “always be happy”. I believe that everyone is born with a certain disposition that makes feeling happy easier or more difficult but with effort and awareness, we can move the genetic meter in a more positive direction if we are willing to work at it everyday.
How do you find the good?