“Did you have a good day “? Is this a diagnostic question? It possibly could be. Sometimes lessons in gratitude just pop up. They just do.
3.15pm: “Did you have a good day today ?” I ask my 6 year old daughter in the car on our way home from school yesterday. I can tell she is thinking about something – and I try to engage her in some interaction in the car.
“Well it would be good if I had the Frozen diary book…then I could…[insert future wishes here]….”
My heart sunk.
Here is a little girl with lovely caring friends, loves her school, her school work, her teacher, she is very well resourced, cared for and loved at home……and she is focused on what she doesn’t have. Particularly about “stuff” (physical things) she doesn’t have.
She has been focused on this book she wanted to order through the school book club – but for some reason we never got around to it. And it was now too late to accept orders. And little miss isn’t happy.
How did she get to that frame of mind ?? Where is her focus ?? How does she determine a “good day”, and qualifies a day to be “good”? Is it arriving at a goal, or is it striving for something? Is it about “physical stuff“. Will this always be unobtainable with her sights set on what she wants (and doesn’t have). Is it reward for hard work?
Am I overthinking this…or is there some belief she has, which I really would love to unwire whilst she is young, and get her in the practice of thinking in a different way?.
Was this me and my husband always striving, doing a range of incremental steps to achieve a goal? Was it always a focus on what we don’t have rather than what we do ??
I really hope not.
Of course I go into a self reflection immediately – and want to chat with her about the way she is thinking….and cast off into the future if this is the way she thinkings about determining if she has a good day.
Ahhhh…so many questions were popping into my mind with her answer to my “Did you have a good day?” question.
I pride myself on seeing the good in each day – which I believe is being grateful for what we already have, and what we experience.
So…I attempted to have a bit of a philosophical conversation with her…about where that kind of thinking could lead to in a life…in a gentle adult to 6 year old kind of way. Lesson in gratitude….
And…here I went…My attempt to alter her train of thought, and the way that she thought about feeling good, being attached to the unobtained..
Our (mostly one way) conversation went like this:
”Do you think its useful focusing on what you don’t have?
“Did you know that the happiest people in life focus on what they have and whats already in their lives… rather than what they don’t have?”.
“If you get in the habit of focusing on what you don’t have, and being sad about it…you might be sad for the rest of your life, as there is always going to be things you don’t have”.
“Unhappy people are focused on what they don’t have and are always complaining”.
“Do you think it might be a good idea to be grateful for what you have and the experiences that you have…it might make your heart feel good”.
But…whilst she did agree with me on these points she did so a little reluctantly. And maybe just wanting me to stop.
Ok…a bit of a monologue, but I was feeling like delving into this pretty quickly. I don’t know if it was too much…as she was quite sulky about all of this conversation. Hmmmm…maybe a bit too far and too soon perhaps ???
Now I know that there are so many lessons for me here…and I try to be super grateful for what I have. On the occasion I can feel a bit down with something I mightn’t be able to afford yet (is that where she gets it from?)…but these feelings often quickly pass with me. And they can be motivating. If I feel off centre, I always like to get back to a place of gratitude.
I am a huge believer in raising energy levels and happiness through an active practice of gratitude (and feeling joy and love). This practice is well explored in some contemporary texts about finding happiness and finding “satiation” in the physical world we live in. Power of Now [Eckart Tolle], Happiness Trap [Dr Russ Harris], Money a Love Story [Kate Northrupp] are just a few which explore these concepts in great depth.
So back to my story…….
6pm Dinner Time: “Did you have a good day” Anthony asks miss 6 at the dinner table (without any prior catch up about this topic from me).
“Yes Daddy” – I got to play with Jasmine and Lucy at lunch. I really like playing with them.”
A smile is on my face. Maybe my “pep” talk worked just a bit….and perhaps I’d given myself a big lesson too.
I would love to hear of your experience in this realm. Have you ever had this kind of conversation in your house ? How did it go…and how do you encourage little ones feelings gratitude ? Please share below…..