Developing a Habit of Responding Cheerfully

habit-responding

Having the ability to respond in a cheerful manner to circumstances and to people needs to be a reflection of your inner self; not a means to mask inner turmoil. There can be so much joy in pain, but to hide ones inner pain behind a phony mask of cheerful is not right, and the distinction must be made clear to children.

We aren’t setting about to be fake, but rather to cultivate an attitude of gratitude with a deep awareness of our God that leaves us in complete awe, filled with joy – that overflows from our lives into cheerful responses to whatever may come.

There is so much communicated to people both by what we do and don’t say – whether we mean to be communicating something or not. This is a pretty huge concept for a child to understand, but such an important one!

As with most of the other habits we have done this year, I have come up with a 31 day plan, a little something that can be done or read each day to help focus us on the habit of responding cheerfully.

In considering how to best communicate to our children about responding cheerfully the thing that kept coming back to me was teaching cheerfulness by example. So in the 31 day plan laid out below you will see that I have taken two days each week to just stop and seriously consider my own interactions throughout the day and make certain I am teaching through modeling it myself – and pointing out where I mess up and apologizing for it.

1. Explain the habit and what it is to the children.

2. Read 2 Corinthians 9:7 and discuss how we are and are not to give.

3. Make a list of things we are thankful for and talk about how being thankful for what we do have is the best way to keep ourselves in check and to help make us cheerful people.

4. Sit in front of a mirror so the children can watch how they look. Ask them to answer a series of questions (about their day, favorite things, etc) in a cheerful way, in a tired way, in an uninterested way – ask them which one of those was the most attractive and which one they should be to other people.

5. Be extremely aware of my own responses and being cheerful in my exchanges with my children and those they see me interact with.

6. Object Lesson :: Helium and the Holy Spirit (twisting a bit to fit with the habit of cheerfulness.)

7. Pick someone to cheer up, through a letter, phone call or in person. Be intentional, plan and execute.

8. Be extremely aware of my own responses and being cheerful in my exchanges with my children and those they see me interact with.

9. Read Proverbs 17:22 and discuss what this means – what is good medicine and what are dried bones?

cheerful-710. Listen to the hymn From All that Dwells Below the Skies

11. Be extremely aware of my own responses and being cheerful in my exchanges with my children and those they see me interact with.

12. Pick someone to cheer up, through a letter, phone call or in person. Be intentional, plan and execute.

13. Object Lesson :: Caught in a Trap (twisting a bit to fit with the habit of cheerfulness.)

14. Play a “Pollyanna” like game. Give a list of scenarios (car runs out of gas and we’re all stuck on the side of the road, going to dinner at someones house and it’s a meal the children don’t care for, we are out on a nature walk and it starts to rain, etc) and ask them to share how they can respond cheerfully despite the circumstances.

15. Be extremely aware of my own responses and being cheerful in my exchanges with my children and those they see me interact with.

16. Read Acts 16:16-34 and discuss Paul and Silas’s response to their situation.

17. Talk about what it means to have a cheerful heart when circumstances are hard or unpleasant. Is it ever ok to have an angry heart? A sad one? A lonely one? What do we do with all of our big feelings?

18. Be extremely aware of my own responses and being cheerful in my exchanges with my children and those they see me interact with.

19. Pick someone to cheer up, through a letter, phone call or in person. Be intentional, plan and execute.

20. Object Lesson :: Rotten Envy (emphasizing how envy will keep us from being content, which will keep us from being cheerful.)

21. Talk about people we know that we would describe as cheerful, discuss why we see them as being cheerful.

22. Be extremely aware of my own responses and being cheerful in my exchanges with my children and those they see me interact with.

23. Read Proverbs 15:13 and talk about how you might have a “happy heart” and the correlation with Luke 6:45 where it talks about out of “the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”

24. Write down a list of ways we have seen each other respond cheerfully over the last few weeks.

25. Be extremely aware of my own responses and being cheerful in my exchanges with my children and those they see me interact with.

26. Pick someone to cheer up, through a letter, phone call or in person. Be intentional, plan and execute.

27. Object Lesson :: Garbage Busters! (twisting a bit to fit with the habit of cheerfulness.)

28. Draw pictures of faces that have “cheerful hearts”, or cut out from magazines and make a collage.

29. Be extremely aware of my own responses and being cheerful in my exchanges with my children and those they see me interact with.

30. Read Proverbs 12:25 and talk about how our words can touch others and cheer them up.

31. Talk about the reasons we have to be cheerful. Why would we choose to be cheerful when sometimes it is easier to just complain?

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