My daughter Sammi, for all the challenges she’s faced in her life so far, has always been able to embrace tiny moments of happiness. In part, I think it is because of a practice we started with her older sister before Sammi was even born; we call it “your happy thoughts.”
Here’s how it started: each night before bed, Sammi’s older sister Ronni would worry about bad dreams and, as a result, have trouble falling asleep, missing us even if we were just downstairs. We did not want to sit in her room until she was asleep, so we began giving her three happy thoughts to think about as she lay in bed. These were small thoughts for her small age, and they came from the day we’d just had or the day that was coming: the picture we drew on the sidewalk, the phone call with her grandparents, the plan for a zoo visit the next day. Her job was to think about those things while she waited to fall asleep.
When Sammi was born and old enough to talk before bed, we did this with her, too. “Don’t forget my happy thoughts!” both girls have reminded us if we try to leave their rooms at night without discussing them. In the last few years, we’ve asked both girls to generate their own happy thoughts, and when things have been hard for them, we’ve sent them out into the world in the morning to find their happy thoughts. Even before “daily gratitude” was in vogue, we had our happy thoughts at the end of the day. During times of intense medical drama with Sammi, my husband David and I have sometimes discussed our own happy thoughts as we lay awake at night, worrying. Continue Reading…by