To My Children: About Happiness

My Dear Children,

I love each of you deeply.

Words cannot fully or adequately express this and it’s hard to fathom a parent who doesn’t want to see their child live a happy life. I know there are horrible parents out there who have done cruel, heartless and evil things to their children. All one has to do is spend a day or two paying attention to what passes as “news” these days to find some story of a “parent” doing horrific things to their kids. Any parent who wishes to do good by their kids is fully aware of their shortcomings and mistakes and despite their flaws, they hope when the dust settles and all is said and done, that their children do not despise them for the imperfect attempt at parenthood.

Why am I starting out here?

I guess because while I may not be the “perfect” parent, I – like many parents – wish to see you live a good life. My attempts at providing structure, discipline, guidance and love, while at times you may think are feeble, all come from this place of seeing you grow in a positive way. Each day, as you grow older and as technology gives you the ability to view the world in unprecedented ways, you understand more and more that life is full of it’s fair share of challenge, hardship, suffering and heart wrenching and heart breaking moments. This is one of the “burdens” that parents shoulder. We hold you as a newborn infant knowing that there is both great risk and great reward that lay ahead of you. We know that you will experience many of the unpleasant aspects of life, we can see the potential “sea of troubles” that could oppose you. And we hope, I hope, to be a blessing instead of a burden when those times come; to help you navigate those rough waters.

“Because every time you see them happy you remember how sad they’re going to be. And it breaks your heart. Because what’s the point in them being happy now if they’re going to be sad later. The answer is, of course, because they a re going to be sad later.” ~Matt Smith as The Doctor

Doctor Who, ‘The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe’

That quote from Doctor Who comes to my mind at least two or three times a year. You see, I like many parents want you to be happy. We’ve already discussed above how there will be, and if you are reading this, there have already been times where you were definitely not happy. If you don’t understand, you will soon enough that “Happy” is contextual, it is very subjective and fluid. Happiness isn’t something that is “permanent”. I could pull from a handful of cliché-like analogies, so let’s go with this one: happiness is like a tide, it comes and goes.

Some parents focus too much on the happiness part. They want to make sure their child is happy, all the time. Just the base, subjective emotion of happiness. I’ll spare the rant as to the kinds of children this produces and I’m sure that I could recruit thousands of voices to echo how focusing too much on a child’s happiness leads to spoiling the child in one way or the other.

So, the emphasis shifts to helping you live a purposeful life, a fulfilled life; finding contentment and as a result, experience happiness more often. And that happiness is a different kind. It is my experience that the closer I live in congruence with the things that give meaning, purpose and fulfillment to my life, the more contented I am and the more I experience a lasting version of happiness that isn’t subject to how I am feeling. The more I am living in conflict with those things that give meaning, purpose or fulfillment to my life, the more miserable I feel and the more apt I am to having moments of existential panic.

I’m tempted to quote Rocky here and as my children you already know which one I’d more than likely quote. While it applies, I’ll save it for another time.

But to be more and more in line with what gives your life meaning? This is where those dreadful things like responsibility come into play. Cause and effect. Risk and reward. Sacrifice. Failure. Discipline. Standards. Rules. Endurance. Determination. Hard work. These are just some of the dues you pay for living fulfilled lives; purposeful lives. That kind of life doesn’t come without a cost.

There is a cost. This is something you must grasp over and over again. Because you will pay those costs over and over again. And no, at the time of this writing, I haven’t “made it”. I’ve experienced tastes and glimpses of it, but I haven’t fully arrived.

For now, understand that when I look at those that I love, each of you, a few select close friends of mine, your mother and a few others: I want all of you to be happy.

But even more than that…

I want you to live a purposeful, fulfilled and contented life.

**Hey there! First, I want to express my thanks to you for reading this post. If you find value in what I’m writing or you know someone who would, the biggest compliment I can receive is for you to share this post far and wide: Instagram, Facebook, SnapChat or even E-mail. While you’re at it, leave a comment or two, I’d love to hear your thoughts! Thanks again!**

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