emotional balance

How Do You Tip the Emotional Balance of Your Family?

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We all know people who tend to drag the conversation into negative territory. Dan Downer. Debbie Discouragement. Brad Bummer. Len Letdown. You know how it goes: “Mark my words: Gas prices are going sky high after the next election.” “What’s wrong with kids today? My generation was much more respectful.” “I can’t stand it this cold. This heat is the worst ever. It always rains on the weekend.” “When I was growing up, things weren’t ever this bad.”

Only talking about negative news stories. Comparing the problems of today with rose-colored selective memories of yesterday. It’s easy to slip into a negative framework, especially if we’re under pressure at work, and if we chronically listen to talk radio during the commute. But we easily forget how much our attitude affects our family. How we see the world often tips the emotional balance in our households—one way or the other. Here are 4 ways to tip the emotional balance of your family in the right direction.

Smiling (or frowning) has been proven to alter mood as much as mood impacts our facial expressions.

1. We can prepare ourselves on the way home.

Don’t listen to the news; do listen to relaxing music. Rehearse positive, affirming greetings for each family member. Literally smile as you turn into your neighborhood. Smiling (or frowning) has been proven to alter mood as much as mood impacts our facial expressions.

2. What happens in the first five minutes after we walk in is huge.

Initial trajectory always impacts final destination. The payoff for a concentrated effort at being positive (regardless of your actual feelings) within the first five minutes of arriving at home can be a relaxing, positive evening.

3. We can be intentional when it comes to our own mental health.

We’ve all heard that “if mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” Well, the principle works for dads, too. You’re the family leader. Be proactive rather than reactive when it comes to mental health and your family will also be less stressed.

4. It takes many positives to counter one negative.

When I was a school teacher, I made a poster for the classroom that read, “Research indicates it takes seven positives to counter one negative. I say, ‘Why risk it?'”

Sound off: In what unique or memorable ways do you routinely greet your family when you get home?

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “Are we more positive or negative in our family?”