Teens Kids About Rachel Fun Stuff Blog Buy a Book


Saturday, July 9, 2011

Mission Optimism

My almost-12-year-old son came up with a project for us yesterday.

He said he had noticed that when he was feeling grumpy or sad or worried, it was sometimes hard to rally himself out of the mood. I feel the same way, I admitted. He nodded.

He said that he had tried something recently that surprised him: he decided, mid-bad mood, to just smile. Not to think anything particularly happy, or count his blessings or whatever, just to smile. And he noticed that within a minute or two, he actually felt significantly happier and calmer.

He suggested that we try, for one week, to catch ourselves any time we feel at all crabby or down -- and immediately smile. And see what happens.

I know I have read that this has been proven to work, and that cognitive-behavioral therapy emphasizes stuff like this -- but where he came up with it, I don't know. He doesn't either. But I tried it this morning: while I was on hold with Pottery Barn trying to return my non-functional curtain rod A SECOND TIME, I smiled a huge exaggerated smile at my son -- and I actually started laughing. I felt not just marginally better but more like the way your nose feels 20 minutes after a Sudafed -- suddenly open and clear.

The return phone person answered and everything went smoothly.

So I am going to try my son's Mission Optimism for this week. I'll let you know how it goes -- for me and for him -- what our successes and failures are. Anyone want to try it with me??? Let me know if it works or doesn't for you.

Rachel Vail


  1. I think I'll try it. I don't know if it'll work or not, but I think trying is the first step toward recovery when it comes to anything.

    Mission Optimism sounds fun. I'm looking forward to seeing how it goes.

    Tell your son thanks for this,
    Deserae McGlothen

  2. I will tell him! Thanks.

    Worked for me again while actually returning the stuff at Pottery Barn. It felt kind of pleasant, weirdly, standing there through long minutes of the clerk frowning skeptically at papers and boxes and the computer. I smiled at him and then he smiled back, and, suddenly everything was fine, done, money refunded. I think maybe Pottery Barn should put my kid on commission.

    This plus a glass of wine and a yoga class and I may become truly unbearably blissful.

  3. I tried it that day, twice. The first time, it didn't work because, I think I was determined to stay in my bad mood. But the second time, my younger sister was feeling down and rambling on and on about it. So instead of telling her to buzz off, I smiled. And she smiled. And I couldn't help but laugh because Mission Optimism actually spreads--- exactly like it did for you.

  4. Deserae -- that is SO cool!

    Anytime I remember to do it, MO really seems to work for me, too -- if, like you, I am willing to give up my crabbiness. I feel like it has made my month so much smoother -- not to mention my parenting!

    It's getting easier to remember, but new habits are as hard to form as old ones are to break, I think...