This past month, my wife and I have started sending our 2 sons to public daycare. The 1 year old is too young to understand what is going on so he is always happy to be there. The 3 year old, on the other hand, has been having a very difficult time in the mornings. As soon as we get in the car, he starts crying and it gets progressively more intense as we get closer to the daycare. By the time we are in his classroom, he is in a near panic, screaming and drawing intense stares from the other parents and staff. Within seconds of me leaving, he completely calms down and gets absorbed with some fun new activity that he would not have been able to experience at home.
Witnessing this really drove home a new realization for me. We all have the ability to experience happiness (or any other positive emotion for that matter) at any time we choose to do so. The advantage with children is that they let go very quickly and have a much easier time living in the moment.
I started thinking more about how most adults handle these kinds of situations, myself included, and in the majority of cases it takes a much longer time to move from a depressed state to one of positivity and happiness.
I can think of many times in my life where I spent an entire day in a negative state carrying around a grudge about something that happened many hours (or even days) prior. At the time, I didn’t even realize that I had control over the situation. Complete victim mentality.
Having spent a number of years working on my own personal development, I now experience far more happy and positive moments than negative ones. But I think it is only human to have times when the doom and gloom creeps in. My new strategy when dealing with these circumstances is to literally think like a 3 year old.
As an example, a few weeks ago I was expecting payment from a client with whom I made an agreement to offer a monthly payment plan. This was something I did more as a favor than a standard policy. When the client ignored my first, then second payment request, I felt myself becoming extremely frustrated. In the past, an event like this might have soured my mood, and in turn my productivity for the entire day (if not longer). I used the opportunity to literally picture myself as the 3 year old easily moving from one moment of devastation to a brand new moment of fun and opportunity. Instead of picking up a coloring book or a new toy fire truck, I picked up my laptop and began working on an exciting new project that I was involved in. My mood shifted immediately. I then took it up a notch with some inspiring music and before I knew it I was feeling amazing and very excited about my day.
I have still not been paid by that client but I’m okay with that now. The new project that I got involved in has already more than paid for the unpaid bill from my deficient client and I’m having a lot more fun with what I’m doing now.
Next time you are feeling overwhelmed by negativity, frustration, anger or depression, try remembering what it was like as a kid when you could experience pure happiness at any moment you chose to do so!