You could never really call me a happy person. Like anyone, I have my happy moments. But I’ve often just gone through life with a neutral expression – not really overly happy or sad. The past year or so, that’s all changed; I’ve been much happier. And I owe it all to the lessons taught to me from my almost 2-year-old.
My son gets very excited about strange things. He’s a little…let’s say, quirky. He’s obsessed with flags, cones, and arrow signs. When we go for walks, he yells out “flag” (well, it’s more like “schlaaat”, but he means to say flag) and flaps his arms…at every flag we see.
Seeing the joy that something so simple can bring him over and over and over again really made me realize something. Why can’t I be so happy at the silly little things in life? A rainbow, the nice cashier at the grocery store, an odd looking bird…why not let those little things make my day? We so often forget to pay attention to the things that used to make us happy; we take them for granted.
My son hates sleep. I’ve tried it all, and nothing works. So, as a sleep-deprived single mom, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I’ve had a few moments where I just broke down and cried. I remember one specific moment very vividly. I was rocking my son at about 3 am…after he had woken up every hour of the night. In my emotional exhaustion, I started to cry. But as I cried, my son looked up at me and giggled. I was broken…and my son was laughing. The ridiculousness of the situation turned my sobs into laughter.
Since that moment, I’ve managed to turn similar tear-worthy moments (like the time my son decided to sprinkle a whole bowl of rice all over my just cleaned kitchen floor or the time he threw my one week old smart phone in the toilet) into laughable moments. I’ve learned to take a step back and look at the situation the way someone watching it might see things. Your life may be a mess, but hey, it is funny.
3. When someone’s mean, smile back
When someone is rude or gives me dirty looks, I avoid them. But my son sees rude people and decides to smile at them until they can’t possibly ignore him. He’ll stare at their grumpy faces with his huge dimpled smile and wait. Then he waits some more. And eventually, they almost always smile back. If they don’t, he moves on to his next target- completely unaffected by their stone faces.
This is good advice for anyone. If someone is unpleasant, give them a reason to be pleasant. Smile so hard that it hurts. Even if they don’t smile back, at the very least you’ll have made them wonder what you have to be so happy about.
Since my son was born, my life hasn’t become any easier. But it has become a lot more joyful, and his lessons in positivity will stick with me forever- even when he’s slamming doors on me as a teenager.
Written By: Dani Gallagher