The Very Best Thing: A Lesson in Optimism

02.26.17

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Raise your hand if your kid gets cases of the “worst case scenario.” You know, when they lose a lego and then totally lose it, “This is the worst day ever, I’ll NEVER find it!!!” or the restaurant you’re at doesn’t have PB & Js,”This is the worst day ever, I’ll NEVER eat again!!!”  Come on, raise your hands, don’t be shy. I don’t blame the little Nostradamuses, for some reason our minds find it easy to gravitate towards the “worst case scenario.” So how do you combat this illogical pessimism, you teach optimism.

A while back I was telling a friend that I had thought about sharing an idea with my boss, but opted not to because she would hate it.  Like she would probably make me write it down on a piece of paper so she could literally spit on it kind of hate.  I know, super dramatic. Luckily my friend helped me reel it in and asked me simply, “Korrine, what is the best thing that could happen? What is the best case scenario?” Hmmm, this was novel, and this wasn’t a rhetorical question, she waited for an answer. “Well, my boss could look at me lovingly and appreciate the energy I invest in my work.”  Ahhh, it felt so good to release a negative expectation and replace it with a positive one.  It felt even better when my boss later that week embraced my idea.

My husband and I use this Best Case Scenario/Very Best Thing (whichever label floats your boat) technique often to reel in negative thoughts, it only recently dawned on me that it can also be a tool to teach optimism to Jono.

We were out for a walk at a resort we were staying at for New Years, well, I was walking and Jono was riding a resort owned bike, when we came to a trailhead. I asked Jono to leave the bike at the trailhead while we walked, a simple request from my perspective, but a very complicated one from his. He flipped, and with hands thrown in the air rebutted, “NO! somebody will steel it, we will leave it, and come back, and it will be gone!” Cue the lesson in optimism. I kneeled down and asked him to imagine the VERY BEST THING that could happen if we left the bike (I didn’t have time to explain what a “scenario” was, this was a teachable moment) Stubbornly, he said, “Nobody will take it and it will be here when we get back.”  Then he let go of the worst case scenario and trusted this VERY BEST THING vision. We went on our nature walk and when we returned, low and behold, the bike was still there. (FYI, I normally would never leave bikes lying around folks, but it was a pretty low risk situation, it was the day after New Years and all the guests had pretty much left.)

We continue to use “The Very Best Thing” technique with Jono, hoping that this way of optimistic thinking becomes a learned habit that he will carry with him through life. If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change!

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