In all my parenting workshops, when I ask parents about the most important thing they wish to give their children, happiness always gets the highest score. Yes, we fight with them over school, bad influence and cleaning their room, but if we had to choose only one thing we want for our kids, it would be to be happy.
Unfortunately, for years, instead of pumping this message into their minds, instead of teaching them how to get to that heavenly feeling of happiness, we teach them all about being unhappy and that the source of their unhappiness is external.
As a life coach, it surprises me again and again to coach people who are convinced happiness is something others needs to give them and they have no control over their feelings. The first thing we do in the “Be Happy in LIFE” program is to eliminate this irrational rule of living, because it is the most disempowering rule we can have.
My unhappiness is caused by things that are outside my control, so there is little I can do to feel any better
You are probably asking yourself, “Why would anyone think like this?” and I say, “The way life happens now, the way we parent our kids, the way our education system functions, how can people think differently?”
Kids get most of their beliefs from their closest socializing agents in life. If you have a feeling I am repeating myself, it is mainly because I am, in hope of convincing you, and the many other parent readers, that you have the power to make your kids happy, healthy and successful. You are the most important agent in your children’s life, because they base their happiness on the external messages (verbal or non-verbal) they have received from their agents.
Try this at home: ask your kids
- What makes you happy?
- What needs to happen for you to be happy?
Ask your kids to write their answer on a piece of paper, to make it easier for you to notice that children, more than the grownups in their life, write things they have no control over – pure irresponsibility and disempowerment.
Here is a list of examples of what kids wrote when I asked them the same questions:
- If my teacher gives me an “A”
- If Mom allows me to go to the party
- If Dad buys me …
- When there is no homework
- When my parents stop nagging about …
- When I get everything I want
- If something happens and I don’t have to go to school
- If my annoying brother disappears
If you read every statement, you will notice kids feel total disempowerment. This is the reason that when I meet them (at the age of 6, 16, 36 or 66) and ask them about their definition of happiness, it still looks the same: “Other people need to do something that will make me happy. I have no way of making myself happy. All the power belongs to others and I am helpless and small”.
If you want to raise children who have positive, empowering rules regarding life, you need to teach them happiness by reminding them that happiness is a choice they have to make every day of their life. You need to teach them that by giving others the power over their feelings, they become helpless, but when they reclaim that responsibility, they become determined, positive, happy people with endless motivation to enjoy life.
Encourage your kids to write the list “100 things that make me happy” and guide them towards responsible things – things they can give themselves (like riding their bike) or enjoy because they are there (like sunshine). Happiness is everywhere, but they need to learn to see it, hear it, feel it and create it.
If you like affirmations, teach your kids this happiness rule, and use it yourself:
Happiness is all around me and inside me and
I can choose to be happy at any time
Join me tomorrow for the 7th irrational rule of living – Anxiety.
Blessings of happiness,
This post is part of the series Irrational Rules of Living:
- Irrational Rules of Living – External Approval
- Irrational Rules of Living – Self Worth
- Irrational Rules of Living – Problem Solving
- Irrational Rules of Living – Right and Wrong
- Irrational Rules of Living – My Way or the Highway
- Irrational Rules of Living – Disempowerment
- Irrational Rules of Living – Anxiety
- Irrational Rules of Living – Avoidance
- Irrational Rules of Living – Dependency
- Irrational Rules of Living – The Power of the Past
- Irrational Rules of Living – Sympathy
- Irrational Rules of Living – Discomfort and pain