I know what you’re thinking. “Why is she talking about midsummer when school is starting soon? It’s already August!” I know. The stores are having back-to-school sales on clothes and school supplies. And some of us really do start school in August (I just read a friend’s Facebook post that said her son starts school again this week!). That’s the reality. But, I want to give you some perspective, along with a little “positivity boost,” inspired by a dream I had just a couple of weeks ago when the calendar still read “July.”
“In my dream, children were playing outside freely, laughing, making new friends and enjoying the warm summer days. They played until after sunset, when their parents called them inside for a light supper. Moms and dads were relaxed, smiling, enjoying watching their children play, splash in the water, make sandcastles, climb the jungle gym, swing on the swings. They even found the time and the energy to play themselves! Families took weekend bike rides, hiked together in the woods, went on fishing trips, took car rides to amusement parks, made backyard barbecues and pool parties with neighbors. They visited relatives in other cities, flew on airplanes together, took cruises, explored new places and had family adventures. Parents and teens discovered new things about one another other, good things that helped them appreciate each other’s ‘softer’ sides. And in my dream, everyone enjoyed the delicious fruits of summer, the sweet juicy peaches, the freshly picked blueberries, the ripe refreshing melons.”
When I woke up I smiled. I went over the dream in my mind. I saw vividly how everyone in the dream was enjoying themselves, fully immersed in the present. Breathing in the joy. Savoring the moment. Feeling happy, together as families.
So why, you may ask, do I feel compelled to share my midsummer night’s dream with you, my friends? Because my dream revealed to me one of the “secrets” to a happy life, one that we sometimes forget as the “back to school cloud” begins to fill the sky and block the sunshine of summer.
So here is today’s bit of “practical wisdom” for parents that I hope you take away from my “midsummer night’s dream”:
Savor the joy. Not only in summertime. Experience and savor the joyful moments all year long.
My grandmother, a woman who loved to collect and share many adages, always encouraged us to “stop and smell the roses.” Too often as busy parents we go through the day mindlessly, taking for granted the special moments that we experience with our children, the little things they do or say that make us smile or laugh, the joy we feel from just being together with those we love.
Happiness research shows that when we feel positive emotions like joy, excitement, or love we are actually “broadening and building” new neural pathways in our brain that make us more resilient and better prepared to deal with life when negative emotions arise. We can cultivate this “positive immune system” by noticing and savoring our positive emotions.
As happiness expert Dr. Tal Ben Shahar likes to say, we need to become “life connoisseurs” — to slow down, to take our time, to savor, absorb, experience, breathe in the moments — open ourselves up to happiness, to the positive emotions we feel in our heart, in our body.
When we make a habit of savoring, we begin to thrive, to flourish. Our energy levels increase, our relationships improve, we feel a greater sense of overall well-being, and are generally more positive. We become more creative, more successful, happier.
So here’s my mid-summer night’s dream for you, my friends: No matter the season, take time to “stop and smell the roses.” Fully experience the joyful moments. Savor them. Whether we are enjoying the freedom of summer, or the routine of the school year, let’s show our children how to become “life connoisseurs.” You will all be happier and more resilient.