Happiness can be a personal choice

March 31, 2011|Lisa Prejean

My 12-year-old was moping around the house, expressing her sadness at not knowing why she was so sad.

After a half dozen hugs and encouraging words from me, she was still trying to self-analyze her emotions.

Yes, we are tottering on the teen years of up-and-down emotions.

Some days I think my emotions are more on edge than hers. This day was no exception.

I was trying to get some paperwork done, and, quite frankly, my emotional energy had been spent throughout the day.

She was very slowly finishing her chore — emptying the dishwasher — and whimpering all the while.

"Why don't you listen to some music?" I suggested. "Perhaps that will lift your spirits."

Most of the time, this tactic works.

She sits down at the piano, plays some lilting number, and before long, her laughter is lighting up a room.

Or she selects a favorite CD and bebops around the kitchen to the tunes.

I'm trying to teach her that happiness is a choice; we can all choose to concentrate on things that make us joyful.

I've noticed, for instance, that when she sits down at the piano, her fingers fly through "Alouette," a song that reminds me of the sing-song melodies heard on playgrounds during recess. It's difficult not to feel light-hearted while those notes are filling a room.

Or, she'll start listening to the beautiful harmonies of Celtic Woman as her kindred spirit Chloe sings "Ave Maria" in awe-inspiring fashion.

The next day my daughter might not feel so high-brow and will reach for "Cajun for Kids."

Because my husband is from Louisiana, we've tried to introduce our kids to the Cajun culture, such that it is.

A "classic" on the CD is "Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler!"

In French, this phrase means, "Let the Good Times Roll!"

This is such a fun song. It invokes images of transplanted, work-weary Acadians tapping their toes around a fire after a long week.

The thought of ancestors making the most of their situations brings a smile to my face. We truly have much for which we can be thankful.

So it was a bad day. Friends weren't too friendly at school. Practice was grueling. There's lots of homework.

This too shall pass.

Until it does, we'll spend our time with the melodies that lift our spirits, soothe our souls and tickle our funnybones.

Lisa Tedrick Prejean writes a weekly column for The Herald-Mail Family page. Send email to

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