Saturday, March 26, 2011

Turn that frown upside down!

I really despise the whole notion of "put on a happy face." It makes me feel phony and hypocritical-- the antithesis of everything I wanted to be at age 15, when being a sullen artsy girl was my thing. I've always embraced what I was feeling and went with it: If I'm happy and I know it, I play loud Jenny Lewis tunes and shake my groove thang. When I'm a cranky sour mess, I huff and puff and stomp and pout. It's a yin and yang, and I really believe in the balance: In order to enjoy the highs, you have to know the lows.
I went through a traumatic family split in my late teens and my coping mechanism was to keep it all in and gloss over the surface of my anger so I could keep going forward. I learned, the hard way, that sometimes you need to get the bad stuff out. Lesson learned and true to my passionate nature, I wear my heart on my sleeve and call 'em like I see 'em.
But! I am 25 years old and don't know everything, believe it or not. A two-year-old reminds me of this daily. Today I realized that just because I was in a funky mood, Abby wasn't. She was happy and bouncy and wanted to play. So today, I decided it would be OK to be pretend happy.
We went for a walk, we had pretend tea and we watched a bit of Madagascar with our morning drinks (me: tea, her: water with a spec of juice).
And now I feel better. How about that? I'm not in a bad mood because of any traumatic event, grief, or otherwise pertinent sadness that needs dealing with. I was just the regular kind of cranky over things like changing poop diapers and having to clean banana smush out of pigtails.
So maybe it's better to get out of the house and pretend to be happy and goofy with a toddler than to sit and sulk and eventually put both of us in cross moods.
See? She might not be able to de-smushify her own banana-encrusted pigtails but she can turn a morning around.

1 comment:

  1. Ever heard of a Duchenne Smile? He was a scientist who hypnotized people and put electrodes on their faces to elicit certain expressions. He then asked people how they were feeling. Smiles made people happy, pouting made people sad, etc. It turns out that the act of making a certain expression releases the appropriate chemicals in your brain to create that mood. Crazy brains...

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