While browsing through a thrift store, I picked up a book that a good friend had mentioned to me. Seeing it for sale at 50¢, I had no excuse not to pick it up. I’m so glad I did; it’s a great read!
The Happiness Project describes the year-long program that author, Gretchen Rubin, designed for herself in an effort to become more appreciative of the good life she already had.
To quote the book cover:
At one point [Gretchen] realized that time was flashing by and and she wasn’t thinking enough about the things that really mattered. “I should have a happiness project,” she decided. She spent the next year test-driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific studies, and lessons from popular culture about how to be happier.
Each month, she pursued a different set of resolutions; go to sleep earlier, quit nagging, forget about results, or take time to be silly. Bit by bit, she began to appreciate and amplify the happiness that already existed in her life.
In April, the fourth month of Gretchen’s Happiness Project, she concentrates on resolutions for increasing the happiness level in the parenting “area” of her life. She decides to become more creative when responding to the typical sorts of everyday “problems” she encounters while parenting her two little girls.
As a teacher who has a decade or more of experience with the effectiveness of the Discipline without Stress approach, I wasn’t surprised that Gretchen also found success by using what she calls “strategies” because they very closely mirror a number of ideas I’ve learned from Dr. Marshall.
For instance, one of her strategies is Don’t say “no” or stop”
Instead, I try to give information that show that although I understand their desire, I have a reason for not granting it. You’d like to stay, but we have to go home….
Admit that a task is difficult
Studies show that people tend to persevere longer with problems thaty’ve been told are difficult as opposed to easy. I’d been doing the opposite with (toddler aged) Eleanor. Thinking I was being encouraging, I’d say, “It’s not tough to pull off your socks, just give it a try.” I switched to saying things such as “Socks can be tough to get off. Sometimes it helps to push down the back part over your ankle, instead of pulling on the toe.”
Wave my magic wand
If I had a magic wand, I’d make it warm outside so we didn’t have to wear coats.” If I were a magic genie, I’d make a box of Cheerios appear right now.” This shows that I understand what my kids want and would accommodate them if I could.