I have nicknamed myself “Pollyanna.” My cup is not only half-full, but I am sure that whoever drank the first half, really needed it.
Well, I’m not quite that obnoxious, but it is not for lack of trying.
I try to look at the bright side of things. And, if all else fails, I start with this phrase, “Well, at least it isn’t…” I used to say, “At least it isn’t cancer,” when someone would have a slight mishap, say a flat tire. Now, I know too many people that have had or still have cancer, that I don’t use that one lightly anymore. I do use it for times like now when I am feeling a little sorry for myself for this slow recovery. “Buck up. People that have cancer have a right to be bummed. Yours is short-lived, sister.”
Over twenty years ago, I came up with a way to force people I love to not dwell on the bad part of their day. I had a summer job at the office my dad worked in, so my dad and I would often ride to and from work together. It was about a 30 minutes drive each way, and if you know me, that is way too long to drive in silence, so I would talk to my dad about his day.
I noticed that he could fill all 30 minutes with all the things that went wrong that day. Part of him was decompressing, but another part of him was reliving all the different ways his day went awry. Having taken a full semester of Psychology 101, I knew this wasn’t healthy.
So, I came up with a rule for the ride home. Tell one good thing and one bad thing about your day. I saw a complete turn around in his attitude as we drove home each day.
I have implemented this rule in our home. As we sit at the dinner table each night, we go around and tell “one good thing/one bad thing.” The kids love it. I love it. Tom tolerates it, but he does play along. Tom and Mark can quickly come up with their bad thing, but often take a little longer to find a good thing. Karen is more likely to have a good thing, but no bad thing. That is acceptable. But, the reverse is not. You are not allowed to have a bad thing, but no good thing. No one’s day is that bad. Even if it is, “I didn’t get hit by a bus on my way home from school today,” something good happened to you. When we have guests for dinner, we ask them to participate as well. So far no one has thrown down their napkin in disgust and walked out.
Why not try this as a conversation starter at your next family meal? Since we implemented this early on, I am hoping that once the kids are teenagers, sharing a part of their day will just be commonplace, and we will have the opportunity to peek into their daily lives.