I sat in a meeting last week that was fraught with negativity. Whether it was people, or situations, or even (yes, shocking!) a party, no one seemed to have anything positive to say. I waited for something positive… it didn’t come. I left feeling awfully bummed. It is that time of year I suppose, when spring seems a year or more away, and the festive fun of the Holiday season is over. The groundhog predicted 6 more weeks of winter – how do we go on? I recall this 70’s book my parents had on their shelf “The Power of Positive Thinking”. It seemed very cheesy at the time, but now I think there is something to that.
My younger son’s teacher is a beacon of positivity. From the beginning of the school year, she has been a ray of sun in all of our lives, but especially my son’s. This boy was the boy who never liked going to school, and more often than not had a negative thing (or two) to say about school. It has been a different year. I’ve heard stories from other parents as well, about how her being so positive has made a difference. One story that has stuck with me is about an 8 year old girl whose hair had become impossible, and she just hated it and didn’t want to do anything with it anymore. The mom was at her wits end! The teacher, with her positive beam, assured the girl she could help her, and spent a recess untangling and fixing the unruly hair. Needless to say, both mom and daughter were thrilled! In my own experience, in the times when the teacher has had something negative she needs to impart to me, she always prefaces it with something positive. And the parent teacher interview experience was new – the focus was on all the positive things that were going on with our son, while anything negative was downplayed.
One of the things I have liked about our new school, is that report cards are not written based on those catch phrases that have become a TDSB standard. It is personal, and therefore seems to much more on the positive side. I don’t recall seeing as many “areas for improvement” or “so-and-so needs to work on…”. This makes a difference, both for the parents and students. Sure, we all need constructive criticism sometimes. But these days it seems more often than not the “constructive” has been taken away.
I know I don’t feel very good when I hear many negative things, and sometimes it’s easy to pass off that impatience or frustration to our children without meaning to. But we should all remember the EASY difference we can make by being positive. It was my birthday recently, and in the hectic work schedule I and my co-workers have faced lately, I didn’t give it a second thought. One of my co-workers was thoughtful enough to go out and procure my favourite treat – rumballs – and a cake. I was surprised by a group, who sang happy birthday and shared in dessert with me. I couldn’t express to them enough, it seemed like a simple or obvious thing to do, perhaps. But that simple or obvious thing made a huge difference in my busy work day. And perhaps I took that kindness with me, either into the work I did, or someone I had to speak with on the phone, or maybe with my bickering sons later that day.
I think it is more than just thinking positive ourselves, it is passing that positive attitude onto others. My bickering sons are an example – one of them starts, with one negative thing, and before you know it, it’s a spiral where not only are they even madder at each other, but then my husband and I are mad as well. I try to stress – as hard as it is for me too sometimes – that it takes one person to break the cycle. Today my younger son is at a friend’s house. My older son, as soon as we came home, went through his special collector cards and selected one that he thought his brother would like. He then put it at the top of his brother’s pack, so it would be a surprise when he came home. A little, but inspiring for me, thing to do. As it is almost Valentine’s day, someone who spread happiness by marrying Christian couples at a time when it was a crime, I think we should all look for how we can spread some happiness, and help each other get through the last stretch of winter.