Consider what happens when you are getting ready to leave home in the morning and someone in your household is in a particularly foul mood. Chances are, this would bring you down too… p. 40, Vital Friends by Tom Rath.
When my youngest daughter started school this year, she wasn’t at all happy with her schedule. None of her friends are in her classes, and she was feeling sad and left out. She wasn’t in a foul mood, but she was down and discouraged.
As is natural in a family, what she was feeling affected how the rest of us were feeling as well. Though it was not her intention or desire, my mood was more or less co-opted by her mood. It was a stressful time in the Merola house.
Then I came upon the above quote. It made me think that maybe if I could be a little happier myself—not insensitive or disconnected, but hopeful and positive and upbeat—perhaps that might encourage a positive flow of emotions through the family and into my youngest daughter’s life in general.
So I’ve spent the last couple weeks being intentional about being “happy”. Again, I don’t mean faking what I’m feeling or just putting on a false face. I mean being diligent about managing my life and my moods so as to keep an optimistic attitude and focus.
Now two weeks is not a long time, I know, and there are lots of different factors that are always involved in the life of a family. But it seems to me that this approach is working. If the above quote is true—and I believe it is—that foul moods beget foul moods, then the opposite is true as well. Happiness begets happiness.
A bit over simplified, I know, but perhaps a good principle for living none the less.