10/15/2008 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Happiness Tip Of The Day: Dig Deep

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It took me many months to come up with my personal Twelve Commandments, and I think about them all the time - whether because I'm living up to them, or failing to live up to them.

I love hearing what other people have chosen for their commandments. A good friend of mine had an excellent list of her own four commandments, and the one that stuck in my head was "Dig deep." One of the interesting things about commandments is that I usually don't have to ask someone to explain what it means. It means something to me, even if that might be different from what the creator meant.

The minute I heard "Dig deep," I knew what it meant for me. I needed to dig deep with my children.

Take this morning. It started out well, and I kept my resolution to Sing in the morning.

Then the Big Girl started fussing, telling me that she didn't have anything to wear - and we went shopping for school clothes less than a week ago! Eventually she got dressed, and we left the house to walk to school. The Big Girl had cheered up, but the Little Girl was crying in her stroller, because - why? I don't know, she wouldn't explain. It was obvious from the way that she was crying that she wasn't hurt or really upset, she was just fretful. For block after block. Then the Big Girl started wailing, "Why can't you make her stop crying?" etc.

I did NOT handle this well. I feel like my fuse is especially short in the morning; it also seems like my children are at their least charming in the morning.

I kept reminding myself, "Dig deep, dig deep!" I'd take a deep breath, and say something cheerful, but then I'd snap again. But everything worked out eventually. We dropped the Big Girl off at school, the Little Girl got tired of crying, I stopped the stroller and said lovingly, "Would you like a drink from the water bottle?" and she was perfectly cheery.

But it was rough there for a while. Controlling my quick irritation and my sharp tongue is something I struggle to do every day - but I know that if can't yell and snap my way toward the loving, peaceful, tender atmosphere that I want. Dig deep, dig deep.

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