A few years ago I needed to find a way to teach my son not to always focus on the negative. So one day as he was having his afternoon snack I placed a red circle sticker in the middle of my forehead and sat down across from him.
"Hi, sweetie," I said. "Do you notice anything?"
"Yeah, Mom. You have a sticker in the middle of your forehead."
"Is that all that you see?" I asked.
"Are you trying to be like those women from India with those red dots on their foreheads?"
"No, I'm not trying to be anyone else," I assured him. "What else do you see?"
He thought about it, and tried again: a target? (no); a zit band aid? (definitely no); a third eye? (the better to see you with ... but no).
I finally took pity on him.
"I know you see this red spot on my forehead," I said. "But don't you also see me?"
He was a little taken aback. We then talked about how, when we focus so intently on what is negative, we fail to see the entire picture; that it's all too easy to let the one thing that hasn't gone right distract us from everything else that has. Yes, you missed the foul shots in Saturday's game, but what about the other 8 baskets you made? You don't like that teacher, but aren't you glad you have her for only one period?
He's a bright boy; he got the point.
I used this same lesson one day when I was teaching high school and some of my students had been laughing at another teacher's quirky character trait. I drew a circle in the middle of a big piece of paper and went around the room asking everyone what they saw. They saw a circle, a black hole, a planet . . . but NOT ONE person said they saw a piece of paper. When I pointed this out to them they became quiet.
They, too, got the point.
We can complain because rose bushes have thorns,
or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.
|Timothy, Italy 2006|