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MANN: Happiness takes practice

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February 21, 2019 - 12:00 PM

 


OPINION


I know my children are going to fail at certain points in their lives — it is inevitable. And that’s not just me being a Debbie Downer; that’s me being a realist.

When they come to me upset and disappointed, I know my heart will break a little for them, and I will wrack my brain, trying to come up with any kind of solution to mend their damaged spirits.

It could be a test they fail; they discover they don’t have the singing ability for stardom, or they experience the all-too-familiar pain of not being good enough for someone — feeling like they were dumped because THEY were somehow lacking.

And before I fly into a fit of rage (I am a redhead after all), and prepare for battle, I’ll dry the tears from my children’s eyes, hold them close, remind them they are not failures and above all else, I just want them to be happy.

It is a common expression that gets tossed around — parents use it more often than not, because they mean it.

But it’s complicated.

Yes, we want our children to be happy — whatever that really means, but more so because we equate happiness with success.

But will success really bring them happiness, and even if they experience that happiness, will it be short-lived?

I recently had the pleasure of taking in a lecture about happiness.

I didn’t even think about how strange the topic was ahead of time, and as the session progressed, I realized how complex the idea of happiness really is.

When I think of happy people, I think of those who see the world through rose-coloured glasses, always appearing to be skipping through an imaginary meadow of flowers alongside a unicorn, never brought down by the complications of life.

And I think that genetics do play a role (but I am no expert), and there are people who are closer to being the naturally optimistic, frolicking-through-life types.

But I do think even people who seem to be on Cloud Nine 24/7 still have to work at it.

The other thing about happiness, is yes, success does come with happiness. When we overcome an obstacle, when we fall in love, when we watch a movie we like, we feel happy.

But it is fleeting.

It doesn’t last forever.

Don’t worry, again I’m not being a Debbie Downer — there are always opportunities to feel happiness.

So what is the message I was able to extract from the lecture, and the message I want to pass on to my children?

Happiness takes work.

There are lots of different ways to reach a place of happiness — finding a purpose (no this doesn’t mean if you don’t become a doctor you won’t be as happy as someone who did), helping others, exercise and finding enjoyment in your work.

There are always going to be hiccups and setbacks, and it is easy to think the world is against you, you aren’t good enough, or nothing is ever going to turn out the way you thought it would.

And it is even easier to dwell and spiral, and continue to move forward with a backwards attitude.

In the end, of course I want my children to be happy — every second of every day, but it is just not possible.

And they won’t just wake up one day and be happy all the time.

They are going to have to work at it, just like everything else.  

— Becky is a 30-something, red haired, mother of two, trying to navigate this life as best she can. She enjoys talking to people and discovering their stories. Still trying to balance her personal and professional life, she juggles work and play. In her spare time Becky can be found visiting with friends, spending time with her family and saving time by reading while walking.


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