Last night on my way out the door for my ritual run (a euphemism for a walk/jog,) I stuck a $10 bill in my jacket pocket because, who knows:

1) I might want a lemonade from the two young female entrepreneurs, who live just over two streets or
2) a frozen yogurt (currently my favorite flavor is red velvet cake) or
3) an essential item from the grocery or drug store.

As I am jogging along, I think about the necessity of soap and toothpaste from the drugstore and I stick my fingers into my pocket to retrieve the $10 bill. Whoops. No bill.

I start searching diligently—another pocket, the cuff of my jeans, etc. I am castigating myself for being so careless. That money would have paid for both the toothpaste and the soap plus probably a bit of chocolate of some kind. I also hear my mother’s voice in my head reminding me that there are starving children in Russia.

Then I think,
“Anabel, this is a waste of good time and energy. You might easily have spent $10 on a movie and popcorn, so make this an enjoyable, entertaining run instead of just for exercise and burning off some calories. Concentrate on making this a memorable moment instead.”

So, I looked, really looked at my surroundings.

I noticed some spectacular lavender that I had ignored previously.

I spent some time people watching.

I saw a darling little girl playing with her puppy. Their antics made me laugh.

I also noticed an older—in fact, very elderly couple—walking along—chatting and holding hands. That tender moment made me cry.

I had a very interesting philosophical discussion with the security guard at Borel Square.

The best thought I had, however, was when it occurred to me that because I live by two schools—probably some kid would find that $10. How thrilled and excited s/he would be.

I bounded up my stairs to the front door feeling much more optimistic about the world in general.

In I went, greeted my dog with a hug, and there on the floor was the $10 bill—slightly chewed by the small white teeth of a five pound Maltese, but still spendable.

I almost—almost—went outside and dropped it on the ground.

What I do remember thinking was that our time in life is defined by what we feel and think about something, rather than what may have really happened.

I encourage parents everywhere to help your children turn the negative into a positive—make a gift from the adversity that occurs for your child on the playground, in the hallways, or even in the classroom.

Resiliency research (Ann Masten and Douglas Coatsworth, American Psychologist, 1998) indicates that the children, who have a close relationship with pro-social adults, are the most able to emerge from adverse circumstances and environments.

Here is a piece of historical sports trivia that will help reinforce that concept:

The first golf balls were smooth. Then as they were used they developed rough spots and small tears in the material. It was discovered that playing with the balls with rough spots produced greater distance and better accuracy. Now all golf balls have at least 432 dimples.

Remember, then, that when a rough spot happens to you or to your children, turn it into a dimple.

Anabel Jensen

President of Six Seconds and professor of education, Anabel Jensen, Ph.D., is a master teacher and a pioneer in emotional intelligence education. A two-time Federal Blue Ribbon winner for excellence in education, she was Executive Director of the Nueva School from 1983 to 1997 where she helped develop the Self-Science curriculum featured in Daniel Goleman’s 1995 bestselling book, Emotional Intelligence.

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