7 Habits of Emotionally Healthy Parents (Part 4)
I get it. Life “happens.” Circumstances come our way that are not pleasant, even down right frustrating. Sometimes we need to tie a knot at the end of our parenting rope and hang on for dear life. However, hanging on for dear life, for all of our life, is not a particularly healthy way to live life. Wouldn’t you agree?
Let me introduce the emotionally healthy habit of cheerfulness.
Proverbs says, “Being cheerful keeps you healthy. It’s a slow death to be gloomy all the time.” Proverbs 17:22 TEV. I happen to wholeheartedly agree with these words. Life tends to be experienced better when there is a bit of cheerfulness amongst the poopy diapers, rude behavior and rolling eyes. If you need a little more convincing here are five additional verses from Proverbs to get you going.
1. Worry can rob you of happiness, but kind words will cheer you up. Proverbs 12:25 TEV
2. A cheerful look brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones. Proverbs 15:30 NIV
3. Every day is a terrible day for a miserable person, but a cheerful heart has a continual feast. Proverbs 15:15 GWRD
4. Happiness makes a person smile, but sadness can break a person's spirit. Proverbs 15:13 NCV
5. A happy heart is like good medicine, but a broken spirit drains your strength. Proverbs 17:22 NCV
Okay. If that isn’t enough let me encourage you to read the responses from a question I asked on social media not to long ago. The question was, “What are some things you do that make you smile?” I received several responses, here are a few of them.
Some Things That Make You Smile
Listen to music
Being with family
Jumping on the bed
Playing with my dog
Walking on the beach
Playing with play doh
Cooking something new
Turning on a disco ball
Laughing with my children
Have a tickle war with my kids
A long drive…down the middle of the fairway
Watching my children while they are sleeping
Buying fabulously expensive shoes…at 75percent off
Recalling moments such as these often bring each of us to a cheerful mind, happy heart, and smiling face.
What Does Science Say?
In psychology, there is a theory called "facial feedback" hypothesis. This hypothesis states that "involuntary facial movements provide sufficient peripheral information to drive emotional experience.” The authors explain that "feedback from facial expression affects emotional expression and behavior" (1). In simple terms, you may actually be able to improve your mood by simply smiling!
In one study participants were simply asked to make faces such as an angry face or a happy face. When the participants made an angry face they experienced increased blood flow to the hands and feet indicating anger. When making a happy face they experienced the physical changes associated with happiness and cheerfulness.
What Does This Mean For Us As Parents?
Sometimes, when we are hanging on to that rope with the knot at the end, we can crack a cheerful smile. In turn, that cheerful smile will help us to begin climbing back up the rope and begin to transition from a parent who is surviving to a parent who is thriving!
(1) (facial feedback hypothesis: Bernstein, et al., 2000).
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