Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Teaching Children Happiness

Teaching children happiness!

I take my daughter for golf lessons, guitar lessons, painting lessons, mandarin lessons, yoga and ballet. She is taught reading writing and social interaction in her school, but no one teaches her about happiness . We all have grown up wanting happiness, but mistaking it to be something that can be found on the outside, through status, money, relationships, children and so on.
We are constantly looking for the next high, the next pleasure. Many of my friends have achieved a lot in their financial and professional status, but when I asked them the simple question “ Are you happy”? 80% of them could not answer me and went on to explain happiness and justifying its presence or lack.
Such a simple question and it came across as such a complicated one. What is it that we all want? All our pursuits are in search of happiness. The societal pillars of happiness are health, wealth, power and relationships. We look for all four for a balanced stool of happiness. If one of them is missing we claim to be unhappy or dissatisfied. We are all trying to fit in on the outside and in the bargain short changing ourselves on the inside.
The so stated conventional recipes of happiness have more often than not, been proven hollow. We always think that the other person with more money, status, the beautiful lover , a wonderful home , gorgeous children is happier than us and there is always something or someone better than us.
Just the other day, my husband and I were discussing our house. I said to him, “ you know, we should have bought the house opposite us instead of the one we did as that one has unobstructed sea view.” We were just bantering and talking about our property investment when suddenly my 5 year old daughter came out with the statement, “ mummy, daddy, the grass is not always greener on the other side.” Both of us were immediately silenced. She went on to explain, how her teacher Mr. Mead had told them that the grass that looks shiny from far is not so shiny when you go near.”
This was such a reality check for me. Here I go about teaching people how to be happy and find the happiness within and yet I am looking for it outside, in the physical accoutrements, my child’s achievements and the size of my diamonds. It is all so easy for me to preach, but when it comes to my own self I get bogged down by the same societal expectations and norms.
However, I am now making a conscious effort to seek that inner peace and happiness. At times my friends make fun of me and call me guru/mata shveita , but I guess it is acceptable, cause it still boosts my ego-yet another factor that encourages happiness on the outside.
Ever stop to think what your definition of happiness is? It invariably depends on factors outside of yourself…let’s see… a successful career, a mils and boon or a penthouse centerfold partner, an over achieving child, money in the bank, fancy cars, beautiful house…maybe one in each continent,….the list would be endless. These are however all pleasures and do not count towards real happiness.
In no way am I discounting these extraneous accomplishments, they surely add to the happiness quotient, but they are not necessarily the be all and end all. By all means aim at achieving all that your heart desires, it brings one step closer to the higher need- that of self actualization. According to Maslow’s theory of hierarchy of needs, one does need to fulfill his/her basic desires/needs in order to progress to a higher plain, but always remember that true happiness lies only on the inside.
We all owe it to the new generation to teach them the basics and the meaning of true happiness which is generally the happiness that comes having led a fulfilling, spiritual, helpful life. Teach your children the meaning of true happiness, happiness in being kind, being loving, being gentle and yet achieving what they would like to in the material world.

I read the following on the net:

YOU ARE WHAT YOU REPEATEDLY DOFirst you make your habits, and then your habits make you.You become a slave to your constantly repeated acts.What at first you chose, at last compels.Your thoughts lead you to a purpose.Your purpose moves you to take action.Your actions form your habits.Your habits determine your character,and your character fixes your destiny.Your habits are either the best of servantsor the worst of masters.Once in motion, a pattern tends to stay in motion.
So make it a point to teach your children the right habits, they are after all your future. Most of us derive vicarious pleasure via them in any case so let them be your ticket to happiness by sowing the seeds of happiness.
As Jack Canfield puts it,
If asked, could you name the five wealthiest people in the world, or five people who have won the Nobel Prize, or the last five Academy Award winners for best actor and actress? The point is, none of us remember the headliners of yesterday. When the applause dies, the awards tarnish, and achievements are forgotten; no one cares about who won which award. But if I asked you to list five teachers or mentors who believed in you and encouraged you, five friends who have helped you through a difficult time, five people who have taught you something worthwhile, or five people who have made you feel appreciated and special - that's much easier to do, isn't it? That’s because the people who make a difference in your life aren't the ones with the most credentials, the most money, or the most awards. They're the ones who care.
Go ahead , teach your children to make a difference in some one’s life. It will be a sure ticket to happiness.

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