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Annie Fox, M.Ed., is an internationally respected parenting expert, award-winning author, and a trusted online adviser for tweens and teens.

You and your Happiness Quotient (HapQ)

December 10, 2010

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:

  1. 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.
  2. Happy guyAvoid 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!
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Filed under: Helicopter Parents,Parenting — Annie @ 4:10 pm


  1. Great advice! Parents should model and teach these steps to their children. I would add Smile a lot.

    Comment by Cybrary Man - Jerry Blumengarten — December 10, 2010 @ 4:21 pm

  2. Brilliant, great advice with only one thing missing. Giving – giving something to somebody once a day always increases the happiness quotient. Never fails.

    Comment by Martyn Wild — December 10, 2010 @ 5:20 pm

  3. Wonderful post Annie! This subject does impact parenting in a huge way. Parents that are happier are calmer and better able to respond to the needs of their children.

    Comment by Marjie Knudsen — December 12, 2010 @ 10:30 am

  4. Nice post.

    Back in 1975 when I was getting married, we had to attend a “marriage preparation” class at the church where we’d be married. (I was Catholic, my husband-to-be, Lutheran.)

    The one thing I remember the priest saying was, “If you want to be happy, surround yourselves with happy couples.” The same thing holds true for individuals. If you want to be happy, surround yourself with happy people. If you want to be successful, hang out/network with happy, successful people. We all learn from one another – if we have an open mind.

    Happy New Year!

    Comment by Doreen Pendgracs — January 2, 2011 @ 7:48 am

  5. Thanks Annie! I also find a tremendous amount of joy from indulging in Coconut Bliss, a frozen dessert made from coconut milk. The name really says it all 😉

    Comment by Mollycules — May 14, 2011 @ 7:34 pm

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