Sunday, June 5, 2011

Take a chance on CHARITY

Can you believe this is the only video of this clip on the whole internets?

Also, did you know there is a whole "nanny-blogging" culture? Well, there is. And it has become quite useful in the past couple weeks. I especially like this one. Nothing really flashy to look at, but I think she is a good writer and provides a lot of insight into how kids think. This week on her blog, she talked about how one of the children she watches was being negative. Not that she was misbehaving, but that she had a "mental habit of negativity". Now I know that sounds sort of hippie-ish or whatever, but I think she hit it on the nose:

A child with a habit of negativity tends to regard the world with a certain level of suspicion. Interactions are viewed as potentially threatening, other children are impositions, daily events are to be resisted, not embraced.
Some examples from the previous day: 
1) Rory offers Jazz a toy. (Well, actually, it was half an empty CD case. No idea where he found it, but it was Special, and he was Sharing.) Jazz scowls, draws her arms close, turns away from Rory and grunts something grumpy over her shoulder.
2) Emily stretches her arms wide and tries to draw Jazz into a hug. Jazz howls as if Emily had wallopped her. (And no, Jazz is not autistic.)
3) Another child wriggles onto the couch beside Jazz and looks at the page of the book she holds. The other child does not attempt to take the book, nor even to touch it. They’re just looking at the pictures.
“No! No book! No!” 
If this happened once in a while — heck, if this happened six times a day (we are talking two-year-olds here) — I wouldn’t think much of it. But these days it’s been happening with almost every interactionAll interactions are viewed with suspicion. Everything is bad, or potentially so … until you tell her it’s good. 
1) “Rory is giving you a toy! Isn’t that nice? Say, ‘Yes’, Jazz. ‘YES!’ Say, ‘Thank you, Rory!’ “
“Yes! Sank you, Orry!” She favours him with an enormous full-voltage Jazz-special smile.
2) “Emily wants to hug you! She loves you! Say ‘Yes’, Jazz. ‘YES!’ Give Emily a big hug back!”
“Yes, Emmy!”, breaks into that smile again and snuggles into Emily.
3) “Say ‘yes’, Jazz, ‘YES!!’ Grace likes the elephant in your book. What’s your favourite picture, Jazz?”
“Butterfly!” (What comes out sounds a lot more like ‘bar-fly’, much to my entertainment.)
“The butterfly? It is pretty. Show Grace the butterfly.”
Jazz plonks a skinny finger on the page. “Bar-fly! Bar-fly, Gace!” 
Default for Jazz, at least this week, is negative, suspicion, and withdrawal. It doesn’t seem to be borne of fatigue, hunger, illness, change, teething, any of the usual suspects. It’s just a habit. It’s not a habit I want to linger. I want to replace it with a habit of openness, positivity, cheerful expectation. She needs to say “yes!” to the world.
You can read the whole entry here.
I can sympathize with little Jazz, except my negative thinking manifested itself later in life. I always expected the worst possible outcome and was cynical in every sort of social interaction. The constant though in my mind was, "This is going to end badly". This sort of thinking keeps you from moving forward and taking chances. Who knows where this cynicism came from? In the end, I don't think it really matters. What is more important, is to recognize this habit, and then work on changing it. That is where charity steps in.  
Moroni 7:45And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
Charity is the opposite of negativity and cynicism. Charity thinks outside herself, and puts other people ahead of her own worries. Charity means being generous with others and thinking the best of them. In Relief Society today, we talked about the phrase "seeketh not her own". We sometimes think it to mean that we shouldn't seek only for our own good or gain, but it also could mean looking outside our own social circles and collective comfort zones to understand one another better. This TED talk touches on this topic. So does this old Ensign article. Charity is cheerful and hopes for the best. 

Can I just say, the women in the Relief Society in the Langley Singles Ward are great. They have so much insight, and are genuinely kind. They are friendly, and quickly made feel like I was a part of their group, even though I am only going to be there for the summer. They are true examples of charity.

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