During any school break, let alone anything over ten days, you get to know your kids on a WHOLE new level. During this recent time together I had noticed that my kids had fallen into the trap of finding everything wrong with each other along with everything around them. Just a constant bemoaning about every little detail. This then became combined with chronic bickering back and forth about every minute detail about every moment of their day. Eventually each became focused on what they disliked about the others. This then started to seep into their daily lives and I started to hear negativity regarding all kinds of things ranging from clothes to friends to the weather. “It’s blue!” “NO it’s GREEN!” “You’re dumb!” “You’re stupid!”
When you go through a divorce, it’s very easy to focus on the negative. It takes a lot of energy to retrain your brain to focus on thepositives and to recognize that the world isn’t in fact out to get you despite all evidence to the contrary. Once you do, negativity begins to take on the same attributes of fingernails on a chalk board and you begin to take steps to avoid it at all costs. So when I became surrounded by this never ending centrifuge of hostility toward the cosmos, I did what any calm, rational, reasonable father would do; I yelled and sent everyone to their rooms.
As I sat in the kitchen contemplating a month long grounding with all three kids subject to nothing but bread and water twice a day and no contact with the outside world until they came to their senses, I noticed the big black chalk wall we’d created this past summer. We had just cleared all of the Christmas messages and imagery that had been created over the past couple of months and it was staring at me like a giant blank canvas. I walked over toward it and picked up a piece of chalk and began to write:
“FIND THE GOOD!”
A simple and direct objective. Find the good. It exists in every person, place, situation, event, environment and circumstance. Sometimes we need to look a little harder to see it, but it’s always there to build on. And it’s up to us to train our brain to seek it out. I am by no means a master at this, but I saw this as an opportunity to offer the kids one simple task and see if I couldn’t get them to recognize that it’s their choice to focus on the positive. Throughout the day, simply find the good. Hone in on it. And then build on it.
We’ll see how it works. But it’s there in big bold letters for all (including myself) to see throughout the day. “FIND THE GOOD.” A gentle reminder that positive is so much more productive and fun than negative. I’ll likely start putting up a new task every week or every month. But for now all I want is for the kids to help each other find the good in their day, in their family, and in their world. Because despite what the world tells us sometimes, there’s a lot of it to be found if we’ll simply look a little harder.