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By Mac Bledsoe

Many times in the past few years I have been asked, “If you could only teach one idea to every kid you taught in your 29 years as a teacher, what would that idea be?”

My answer has always been the same! If I could only teach one idea to every kid I ever taught it would be that “Happiness is an attitude of choice!”

If I were successful in teaching every kid that I ever taught, that they could always choose to be happy it would matter little if my other lessons were successful because if they learned that one idea; at least they would always be happy! No matter where they went and no matter what happened to them they could always choose to be happy. The concept has been presented many times and in many ways down through time but it still remains as one of the most empowering thoughts that a parents can bestow on their children!

“You cannot change what happens to you but you do get to choose your response!”

“Happiness comes from the inside out!”

“No one can make me feel inferior without my consent!”

“If I can find nothing for which to give thanks, rest assured that the problem lies within myself!”

“In a free society, your entertainment is your responsibility! Being bored is the ultimate insult to self!”

Say it however you wish, but this is the one simple concept will be among the greatest of gifts you can give to your kids. Think about it for a second. If you successfully teach your kids to choose to be happy you will have insured that they will be happy. What more can you want for your kids?

Remember always that your kids learn more from your backside than they do from your frontside! They will learn more from what you do than what you say. To teach your children that happiness is indeed a choice you must model this for them. This does not mean that your kids should never see you crying at the loss of a dear loved one, but in your sorrow they definitely should see you moving forward and using your loss to find some uplifting gift that you have received from your loss. They had better see that as part of your grieving you focus on the happy times with that lost loved one.

The day that my father died he was sitting on the edge of his bed where I had just helped him in the arduous task of rising to that seated position. He was wracked with pain from the cancer that had taken over his body and he could barely muster the strength to speak but he turned to me and said, “Well, kid, that is the last sunrise I will ever see! I’ve ridden this old pony for all she is worth; this will be my last time to look on a sunrise!”

I was so startled by this comment that I could not hold back my tears! Then he changed my outlook on life forever with his next statement. He looked out his window at the sunrise across the bay and in his weakened voice he said, “But, if I have to go isn’t this a good one to go out on?” In his dying moments my father was choosing to see the happiness! We need to be that example for our kids. When life deals you a bad hand play it the best you can and enjoy the game!

When a beloved family pet dies… mourn with your kids; and then get out pictures of “Old Snuffy” and recall happy times and happy memories. Help your kids to value the entire memory of that pet and not just the sad memory of his passing. Help them to recall messages they had learned by knowing that dog. The loyalty of that wagging tail, no matter what happened. In their grief help them to recall the good times. Help them to choose to be happy. Help them to see that being happy does not have to mean that you like what has happened; but that it does mean you get to choose how you will respond to the tragedy.

Happiness is truly an attitude of choice. Teach that to your kids at every stage of their development. Teach kids to laugh by laughing with them! Every day. In the process you get to choose to see the joy in having kids!



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