Put on a Happy Face

Posted March 29, 2011 by jimhigley

My son’s been feeling some stress lately. He’s in the middle of baseball tryouts for his high school team. And, as he usually does, he goes through regular cycles of self-doubt as to whether or not he’ll be making the final cut.

“How’d tryouts go today son?” I’ll ask when I pick him up from school.

“I’m not sure I’ll make the team, Dad,” he sometimes replies.

And then begins the sixty second conversation all parents angst over. While wanting to give your child boatloads of encouragement and support, you also want the kid equally prepared to handle all of the curveballs (pun intended) life tosses their way.

So I’ve been serving my son daily positive doses of good vibes, reminding him how well trained he is, how important his attitude is, reminders that one bad day doesn’t ruin everything, and—most importantly—no matter what happens, there’s a reason for everything. New doors truly do open when one closes.

He hates it when I talk like that.

But that’s just the way I’m wired. I’m an optimistic person. Not sure why. I just believe it’s easier to think good things and focus on the positive.

When the basement floods, I tell myself it’s okay because I needed to toss out a lot of junk anyway.

Another crummy, cold day? Well, it’s nice to build a fire in the fireplace.

You get the idea. But before you smack me, I need to tell you that the month of March is “National Optimism Month.” So there’s still time for you to jump on the smiling train and get rid of some of those negative thoughts, clean your mind, and live longer.

Live longer?

That’s right! Just last week, a study at the University of Illinois suggests that living a happy life not only keeps you healthy but adds more years to your life!

According to Illinois professor emeritus of psychology Ed Diener. “…feeling positive about your life, not stressed out, not depressed—contributes to both longevity and better health…”

That report alone makes me downright happy.

As for my son, I’m not sure how all this optimism is working. Our latest conversation went something like this:

“Okay Dad, if I don’t make the team I just want you to know it’s because of you.”

“Why would you say that?”

“Well, all this optimism probably is making me slack and not work so hard because I’m not as scared as I should be. So it’s your fault.”

We parents can’t win, can we?

And if all this optimism isn’t your cup of tea, I have more positive news! April is “Stress Awareness Month.” So we can all collectively become unglued together in a few days.

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