The Scout Handbook reminds us that "A Scout is cheerful. A Scout looks for the bright side of life. He cheerfully does tasks that come his way. He tries to make others happy."
On the surface, "cheerful" doesn't necessarily seem like it's quite as tough of an attribute to attain as some of the others-- but let's take a deeper look. "He cheerfully does tasks that come his way."
For those of you who aren't spring chickens, you may recall a certain Disney movie with a beautiful, dark-haired princess who happened upon the house of seven very messy little workers. But instead of throwing a fit and turning into a grumpalumpagus (it's an April-ism, you'll just have to roll with it), she taught everyone who saw the movie these lyrics:
"Whistle while you work...and cheerfully we can tidy up the placeSo hum a merry tune...It won't take long when there's a song to help you set the pace."
Her attitude was her choice... and her choice was to be cheerful about a less than awesome task. That made all the difference in her disposition and that of everyone around her. The work was still going to be the same but she CHOSE to be cheerful.
When at a camp out, it would be easy to complain about the rain, the heat, the cold, the bugs, the food, the duty roster or our Scouts can realize that they can choose to be cheerful. Their one small act of cheerfulness could be the ripple in the temperament of everyone encountered!
It's easy to be cheerful when the day is warm, sunny and everything is seemingly going your way. But... what about when someone cuts you off in traffic? What about when you hear news you don't want to hear? What about if someone grumps at you?
I liken the CHOICE to be cheerful to standoffs at the dinner table with toddlers. I'm pretty sure we've all been there (and if you haven't, you should write parenting books). You've likely done a little bit of negotiation to get them to JUST TAKE ONE BITE.
One... little... measly... nothing... bite!
For the love of PETE... EAT IT!
That negotiation took thirty minutes... thirty minutes of your life that you'll never get back.
Thirty minutes was exactly long enough for them to either become so ravenous they just ate it out of extreme hunger (or, in the case of my rug rats, COMPLETE AND UTTER spite) or long enough to realize they LOVED whatever was being served and were then begging for more.
The point is, they wasted more time being defiant and UNcheerful than they did joyfully completing the task of eating the rest of their meal and that...one...stinkin'...bite!
Choosing to be cheerful comes with maturity and the development of personal integrity and empathy. Little ones could have cheerfully taken the bite and made the determination of palatability in a nanosecond... but they slogged through the negotiation process pushing things around on their plate just to drag it out for no other reason than they could. In this scenario, everyone usually ends up being quite miserable.
...and seriously, what kid doesn't like cheese on their hamburger? Oh MY LANTA it's a wonder I'm not completely grey haired! But I digress... back to the point at hand...
The choice to do any task cheerfully, expeditiously, joyfully... is ours... it's theirs.
And, just so you have something more in your parenting arsenal, when my children grumble, I like to throw out Philippians 2:14.
The Boy Scout Trail reminds us:
A spirit of cheerfulness requires strong character and an understanding of life. When a Scout realizes that it is completely up to him to be depressed or cheerful, discouraged or resolved, cowardly or brave, then he can make the choice. Until that happens, boys will blame the world around them for their feelings. The amount of hardship required to adversely effect a person's demeanor is a solid test of that person's depth of character.
Sad occasions, such as a friend moving away, failing a test, or losing a pet for example, will understandably dishearten a person. Feelings of loss and sadness are normal and even a sign of respect. But, after an appropriate time, it is necessary to carry on with life and find goodness and cheer in other people and healthy activities.
Scouting renders itself to many opportunities for life lessons in every point of the Scout Law. Our January Pack meeting, for instance, is a race and not everyone will win. There are no participation trophies to just make everyone feel good. The feeling should come from within from DOING THEIR BEST!
However, we are helping provide opportunities for Scouts to CHOOSE to maintain that cheerful disposition when... they might come in second. Why not encourage your Scout to be that Scout that congratulates the efforts of everyone involved and pats the winner on the back?
We provide opportunities, too, for selfless service to our community as well. Cheerful dispositions are always welcome at these events! (Can anyone tell me, however, why is it more fun to pick up other people's trash than it is to pick up your own socks off the floor? I still will never understand that one!)
Think of ways to encourage your scout to be cheerful and to help cheer up others. You don't grow by not having to face challenges and obstacles. You grow by how you choose to face the challenges and obstacles set before you. Be cheerful!