Our family recently received a new book from PJ Library called Chicken Man, by Michelle Edwards. As I read this book to my young children, it seemed I was the one getting the most from its message. The main character lives on a kibbutz in Israel where his job is to take care of the chicken coop and all its residents. Chicken Man earned his nickname by doing a good job there, keeping the chickens and roosters happy by singing to them all day long. When others hear how great Chicken Man seems to be doing in that position, they ask for a transfer so they can work in a job that makes them happy. So Chicken Man gets moved to the laundry room. There he sings all day while washing, folding and ironing. When others see how happy he is in that job, they request to be moved there. So Chicken Man gets moved again and again, all the while, spreading joy and making the most of wherever he lands, despite conditions that many would deem less than desirable.
I explain to my kids that Chicken Man is making his own happiness. Finding the good no matter what the situation. What a wonderful lesson for all of us. Here are some reminders for finding the bright side of a bad situation.
• Create a support group. Surround yourself with positive people who will advocate for you and pick you up when you’re feeling down.
• Train your brain. When things happen, it’s human nature to see the negative, but if you train yourself to focus on the positive, you’ll be much happier.
• Accept change. It’s inevitable, so instead of fighting change, try to accept it. Sometimes you may find that things end up being better than they were before.
• Help others. Opportunities for doing mitzvot are everywhere. Besides being just a great thing to do, helping others can provide a much needed distraction from your own problems.
• Remember that no one is perfect. It’s not easy, but sometimes you need to lower your bar of expectations. Learn from mistakes whether they are yours or they belong to others.
• Be grateful. Take note of your blessings. Gratitude is a precious gift that helps you appreciate what you have.
• Seek/accept help. Sometimes it’s hard to see the forest for the trees when you’re smack in the middle of the storm. Let other people share their experience or expertise to help set you on the right path.
• Control your response. Take a deep breath. Count to 10. Use whatever calming technique works best. Reacting from a place of heightened emotion could make things worse.
• Learn from the past. If you’ve responded in a way that wasn’t helpful before, carry that experience with you and let it help guide you in the future.
Life can be tough, life can be scary, and you don’t need anyone to tell you that life isn’t always fair. We have all felt that way at some time or another. Many of us feel like we have had our share of hardship. But the real gift is being able to find the good amidst the bad. I’m going make more of an effort to do that as much as possible. And although I can’t sing like Chicken Man, I can certainly try to follow his tune.
By Robyn Geller, JCS Public Relations Coordinator
JCS provides a broad range of services that meet the diverse, multi-dimensional needs of individuals and families throughout Central Maryland. We offer guidance and support when you are seeking solutions for emotional well-being, aging and caregiving, parenting, job seeking, employers and businesses, achieving financial stability, living with special needs, and preventing risky behaviors. To learn more, please visit our home page or call 410-466-9200.