You know the phrase, "If Mamma ain't happy, no one is happy"? Well, the converse of that is also true, though perhaps not as easy and natural as letting a bad mood or attitude rule the day.
For the past four months a friend of mine and I have been hosting a discussion group once a month to watch a video by Nancy Campbell on Reclaiming Biblical Womanhood and then to discuss it. It has been interesting and useful and I will miss the discussions. The last session was on 'Reclaiming Attitudes' and one of Mrs. Campbell's seven points was to smile and rejoice even when we don't feel like it. Especially when we don't feel like it. This was also one of the points which brought up the most discussion.
Why is it so hard to choose joy? Is it dishonest to 'put on a happy face'? Why don't we ever think to pray to ask God's help in changing bad attitudes? Why does it sometimes feel as though we enjoy wallowing in yuckiness? Do we really want to change?
These are all good questions. For me the single most interesting and useful comment was my friend sharing the idea she had heard elsewhere of being a thermostat for the emotional atmosphere of our homes and not a thermometer. Think about that for a moment. A thermostat is what regulates the temperature... too cold and it turns on the heat, too hot and it turns the heat off. The thermostat is what regulates. A thermometer on the other hand only reflects what the temperature is and can do nothing about changing it.
How often do we as mothers allow ourselves to only reflect the mood of the house, which, at least in my home, is often a direct result of my own mood. And then when things start going south with bickering children and chaos at every turn, too often I allow things to escalate further by lumping more anger and self-pity onto the smoldering fire. On really bad days the inevitable end is many children are sent to bed and me crying and feeling sorry for myself behind a door somewhere.
I dislike days like that. I dislike how I feel afterward; I dislike how I feel about my children and home; I dislike having that memory of the ugly mother lodged in my children's heads. I want to me a thermostat and be proactive about the tone of my home. But the kicker is that I have to choose to do it. And because we are promised God's spirit lives within us, we have amazing power available to us to make the change, but we have to at least open the door. That's why I titled this post as I did. Just a smile can often be enough to help us change our current attitude. I don't think we mothers smile enough... we get caught up in our jobs and busyness that we forget to put smile on the to-do list. Are we really being a good advertisement for the best job in the world?
So I'm offering a challenge (one I plan on taking up as well): I'm going to make it my goal to smile at my children at least once every hour. I know I don't like it if someone I live with is always frowning (whether purposefully or not) and I can't imagine my children enjoy it any more than I do. Who's with me?