We don’t really expect our kids to be happy all the time, but we still want them to be. It’s what I want for myself too! That’s why, after decades of rigorous research I’m ready to reveal my heretofore closely guarded Secret of Happiness. Yes, folks, I’ve developed a four-prong approach guaranteed to increase your Happiness Quotient (aka HapQ). It’s simple. If you want to be happy just:
- Do more of what brings you joy. A no-brainer, but most of us live like we’ve got forever to get to the fun stuff in life when actually it could all be over… Whoa! That kind of thinking lowers my HapQ. Not going there. Onward to #2.
- Avoid obvious joy-busters. If you know something (or someone) brings you down, limit your exposure or stay away altogether. A few of my instant “joy-busters” include: burnt popcorn, yellow jackets, and stubble. As for people who are consistently no fun to be around…. don’t go camping with them. Do NOT!
- Deal (ASAP) with whatever smooshes your joy. If a situation you’ve got no control over is stressing you out, you’re not powerless. There’s always something you can do to modify your response. You could, for example, close your mouth and quit complaining. It rarely improves a situation. In fact belly-aching often intensifies your awareness of how much you’re suffering. Some of my joy smooshers include: luke warm hot chocolate, aggressive louts, cold feet, misplaced eye-glasses, dog hair on the rug, and any paragraph I’m not yet satisfied with.
- Breathe. For anything you can’t avoid or flat-out change… you can always inhale (slowly & evenly), exhale (ditto), and smile. (Even a half-smile will do.) Up goes the old HapQ. Breathing is free, available 24/7, no membership or trendy work-out clothes needed. Breathing always restores my sense of humor except during the truly horrible year my mom was dying of Lou Gehrig’s Disease. And, much more recently, when we tried to build a new fence and our neighbor pitched a fit and a rather large attorney in our direction. I know, I know. “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” I try not to, but sometimes my mind loses me.
I can’t say exactly what all this has to do with parenting. Except that sometimes we just have to tough it out. And so do our kids. We can’t always rescue them up when they’re down. Maybe the best we can do is remind them that someone is always not happy, and right now they seem to be It. On the other hand, tomorrow (or even sooner) it might be their turn to be happy again. Just knowing that could help.