2017-01-04 / Opinion

In My Opinio n

Plan for happiness
BY KAROLYN MCENTEE, DIRECTOR
Sanilac County Great Start Collaborative

Plan for happiness

Probably, like me, you find the New Year to be a time of reflection and hope. I have found myself recalling highs and lows of the passing year and making plans to for increased happiness in 2017. As a parent, I am particularly proud of a memory one late afternoon in 2016 during a January blizzard at Michigan State. Our daughter was concerned about her bike being subjected to the elements and indicated she needed to move it indoors. I witnessed this tenacious young lady struggle, while battling the driving wind and snow, to release her bike from the confines of a nearly un-breakable bike lock for which she had misplaced the key. I assure you she was successful although it took copious amounts of hot cocoa and blasting heat the entire drive home to Lexington for her to thaw. I wonder, would she have completed the task had we not read Winnie the Pooh stories where her hero, Tigger, is un-daunted by Eeyore’s view of the world? I will never know, but I know for certain she is kind like Pooh, worries like Rabbit and is sometimes scared like Piglet but mostly she is unstoppable like Tigger.

As I think back, I owe a debt of gratitude to books like Matilda and The Paper Bag Princess, for teaching us all that being smart, independent, and a bit different are the best things that a little girl can grow up to be. Raising children in a time when the media seems bent on inferring that only the super pretty and rich people are happy devalues intelligence and uniqueness. I can say with conviction that every useful life lesson can be learned from a children’s book. What if in 2017 we apply the lessons learned from so many of those beloved children’s books? Our collective New Year Resolutions might look like:

1. Be open to everyone you meet- even those who are different than us. In Charlotte’s Web, we learn that friends come in unexpected forms.

2. Be kind to our world. Maybe we shouldn’t discount the possibility that we are all responsible for the earth, no matter if you believe in global warming or not. If you need a reminder pick up a copy of Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax. “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” Doctor Seuss.

3. Set your intentions to be more grateful and open to compromise. With so much talk of entitlement and inability to find middle ground, it becomes more important that each of us keeps ourselves in check. If you want a refresher course in gratitude or negotiations I recommend you browse one of the Berenstain Bears books especially, Berenstain Bears Get the Gimmies.

4. Develop your altruistic side. Share your time and resources with the community. Just like the Rainbow Fish learns to spread the wealth of his special scale by sharing parts of himself with his new friends, all the while making the ocean a more sparkly place; you too can heighten your sense of belonging and level of happiness.

Finally, I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t close with one of my all-time favorite characters, Max in Maurice Sendak’s, Where the Wild Things Are.

5. Make time for fun and let your imagination run free. Just like Max it’s okay for everyone to create an alternate world with a little bit of a Wild Thing in them. Imagination is a super human power. Identify a release for the wildness within you and let the rumpus begin. Flex your imagination muscle often, this is the most important lesson we adults can re-learn from a child’s book.

I look forward to an extraordinary 2017 with all of you through our shared plan for happiness.

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