The biggest lesson in life that I hope to impart upon my children is that happiness is a choice.
It seems simple and obvious, but being happy feels good. Anger, sadness, restlessness... these emotions just don't feel good. Some days it takes extreme effort to choose happiness and not to give in to your anger and frustration... but it is worth it in the end.
Whenever emotions are running high and tantrums seem like they are around every corner I call a snuggle circle. The kids sit on my lap and we list the things that make us happy. I explain to Noah that, even though he is mad/sad/angry about x, y or z... that there is always something to be happy about. No matter how small. It is ok to feel mad/sad/angry... but happiness is in there as well. Because there will always be chocolate chip cookies. And spiderman toys. And trips to the park. And these things make you happy, even if taking a bath at night when you would rather be playing makes you mad.
And the lesson is starting to stick.
I will hear Noah tell Amelia to think of something happy when she is screaming and screeching (the way only 21 month year olds know how to do). When I get frustrated with the kids and my words are curt and stern Noah will say 'Mommy... be happy.'
And you know what has happened? Noah is one delightful little guy. He loves to do things to make his friends happy; bringing treats to the park to share, or giving them his favorite toy to play with, or lending out his prized spiderman costume to a friend. And he literally jumps for joy with a continuous smile on his face when he is engaging in one of his favorite activities.
Like making cookies.
Again, this seems simple and obvious, but cookies make this little family very happy. Noah loves the whole process. Gathering the ingredients, following the steps... 'careful, careful, stir, stir, stir!'. He loves setting the timer, watching them bake and laughing when the buzzer startles him.
In an effort to keep things healthy around here I decided to play around with a simple three ingredient banana oatmeal cookie recipe that I found online. This is what I came up with and, if I do say so myself, they are amazing.
Noah's Happy Cookies
- 4 ripe bananas
- 1/2 cup peanut butter
- 1 egg, slightly beaten
- 2 cups old fashioned oatmeal
- 1/4 cup milled flax seed
- 1tsp baking powder
- 1 cup dark chocolate chips
Preheat your oven to 350. In a large bowl, mash the bananas with the back of a fork. Add the PB and the egg and stir until combined. Add the oatmeal, flax and baking powder, mix well. Finish by adding the chocolate chips.
Spoon about 2 tbs of the mixture onto a lightly greased cookie sheet. Slightly flatten with the back of your spoon. Bake for 10 minutes or until slightly brown and firm. Cool for 2 minutes on the sheet, then transfer to a cooling rack.
And there you have it! I really love the fact that we have 'treats' in our house that don't leave me feeling guilty. And I love that this simple task brings so much happiness to my little guy.
Sometimes... all you need to be happy is a chocolate chip cookie.
And, of course, eating them naked doesn't hurt your happiness cause, it can only help :-)