Today is election day. Am I the only one letting out a big sigh of relief?! It’s been a stressful election season, to say the least. No matter what side of the aisle you choose, the 24 hour media cycle, combined with the extra long campaigning (starting last winter for the early January IA caucus), has brought a fair amount of stress into people’s lives. A few weeks ago, Jason and I had to force ourselves to take a media sabbatical because it was consuming our thoughts and discussions. So, in an effort to celebrate democracy and freedom, while limiting stress and division this election day, here are a few childhood lessons to help de-stress your election day.
1. Mind your own beeswax.
It’s a simple lesson we all learned in school… to mind your own business. It’s quite important today as well. Do not tell acquaintances who you are voting for and certainly don’t ask others who they’re voting for. Especially keep this in mind at work. More than likely your family and close friends already know your opinions about politics, but discussing this with acquaintances only creates divisions that you may never quite recover from.
2. Be proud of the red, white, and blue.
Kids are quick to get excited about America, even without the years of life perspective. Appreciate democracy today! Instead of dreading the long lines and extra time spent going to vote, take the time in line to reflect upon what a blessing it is to be able to participate in such an important election. Countless lives have been lost fighting for our freedoms and voting is an honor that we should be proud to wait in line for. You might even want to dress in red, white, and blue… a kid would!
3. Allow yourself to be distracted.
Kids are naturally great at distracting themselves. Visit any kindergarten classroom, if you don’t believe me. Do not let election night start too early, making it all you do for the evening. Keep the TV off after dinner and go for a walk with your family or play a game. Maybe even enjoy a hobby. Do something to distract yourself, besides watching the news anchors inaccurately predict the outcomes, which creates much more stress in the long run. Later in the evening you can turn on your favorite station to stay informed on the progress. Don’t worry, you won’t miss the big news.
4. You’re not the boss of me.
As the youngest of four girls, I probably said this about five hundred times as a kid. Inevitably you will have an encounter with someone who does not see things as you do. Instead of judging them and letting your anger overcome you, try to stand united as recipients of this gift of freedom. It’s good to remember that no one is forcing you to vote a certain way, so you should also not judge others for their choice either. On election day, you are your own boss. Don’t try to be someone else’s boss.
5. You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.
This was a popular line in my kindergarten class. I said it so often that the kids would actually use it on their own with their peers. Basically, when it’s all said and done and the final states have been counted, you need to be able to accept the reality of the election outcome. No fits allowed.
It’s important to maintain perspective today and to celebrate the freedom we have to be able to partake in the decision making process of choosing our leader. At the end of the day, we all want what’s best for the country, even if we may disagree on how that should be accomplished. Practice respect in your interactions and pride in your country.