“Happiness is a statement of mind. Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens. ”
My dad loved to remind me of these lines by John Homer Miller. He passed away 12 years ago but his words continue to linger on. Through his words and guidance, he taught me the art of finding happiness within myself and not always “seek” it outside of me.
Life hasn’t been very easy and continues to be challenging in many ways but despite the vicissitudes I try to be happy and find happiness in the little things I do everyday. But it didn’t come naturally to me. I have worked towards becoming a happy person.
Yes, being happy is NOT a natural state of mind for most of us. We have to actively work towards it – we need to learn the art of happiness and then practice it EVERYDAY until it becomes our mind’s default setting! I learned this from my father at a very young age and now with continuous practice, I think being happy is a habit and you see old habits die hard! 🙂
How wonderful it would be if we could teach our children this art of happiness.
We can’t guarantee life will be perfect for them. There will be moments of sadness, loneliness and grief. We can’t prevent those feelings or put a barriers on unpleasant situations but what we can do is help them find a way to personal happiness. Here’s how you can do it –
1. Life is musical. Get them involved.
My mum and dad both loved listening to music (my mum still does). The house would always be reverberating with new sounds and melodies. I remember listening to a wide variety of music, from pop to western classical to traditional Indian ragas. Typically, we listened to music during meals. Sometimes, he would call us to our room and make us listen to his choice of music. He would comment on style, the melody, singing and lyrics and got us engaged in the whole process. As Me and My brother grew up, listening to music became a part of our daily routine. We would usually leave the music player on while studying and even while retiring for bed.
Music has been therapeutic in so many ways. It helped me deal with heartbreaks, conflicts, failure, disappointment and grief and at times given me encouragement and motivation. In other words, it has been a HUGE stress-buster!
Over the years, I have consciously made an effort to help my daughter develop an appreciation for music by taking her to music concerts with me and have given her own music player with her favorite tracks in it. Today, she is able to deal with her anger, sadness and celebrate her joys through music and she is just 7. Music is an important part of her life. She is not a singer or a musician but she says, “i can feel music, it makes me happy”.
I would recommend making listening to music part of your child’s everyday routine. Have an exclusive playlists for morning wake-up time, meal-time and sleep-time with their favorite songs on it. You may even encourage your child to join a school band or a church chorus. If your child asks for piano lessons, enroll them with their promise that they’ll complete so many full sessions. Or have a friend teach them to find out if it’s something they’ll stick with. I have heard folks say, they can live without friends but not without music. So, you know what I am trying to say here!
2. Let’s Read
You understand that there is nothing like a good book to help you get through a boring or a bad day but your child may not share this opinion unless old enough to understand!
Reading habits are not easy to inculcate. You might hear them say, “it’s too boring”, “I don’t have the time”, it’s too hard”, “it’s no fun”. Some kids may even think that “geeks read” while the cool one’s play sports or do other stuff than sit in a corner and read. A child who loves to read may even come across as a loner or aloof from friends.
Don’t turn reading into a campaign.
Under pressure, children may read only to please their parents rather than themselves, or they may turn around and refuse to read altogether. Best way is to read to them at night but maybe not the entire story. Let them enjoy looking at the pictures. Let them build on the story on their own. Ask them questions, which might encourage them to read to find answers.
Right now, my kiddo is 7, so most of the time, I read books to her. But I can’t wait for the day when both of us can lie on a couch together with big bowl of popcorn and read our favorite books! Books are best friends – for life!! 😀
3. Practicing Silence, “ssshhh the boredom away”
For most people silence is terrifying. It spells gloom and loneliness. For me, silence is beautiful. I love it.
My father used to take us for morning and evening walks and sometimes he would insist on silence. Especially, in the park, he would ask us to sit under a tree and to simply “observe”. He would ask, “what do you hear?”, “what do you see”, “describe different colors”. He would ask us to feel, touch, hear and share. Years later, when I first attended a meditation camp, I was not taken aback when asked to take a vow of silence for 9 days. Despite being an extremely talkative person, I rejoiced at the thought of being silent.
Teaching silence to children is tough. I understand. But by helping them spend time with nature, in silence, is something children are capable of. Spend quiet moments with them, whenever possible, in the garden, public park or just at home. It’s not hard. Also, ask them to write their experience in a journal. At a future time, it will help them reflect on their thoughts.
4. Practicing an Attitude of Gratitude
“We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have”
— Frederick Keonig
My father helped me develop an attitude of gratitude but it wasn’t something forced down my throat like a bitter sweet pill, he showed us the way by walking on it himself.
Children don’t have a context for life, they don’t know whether they are lucky or unlucky, only that their friend has more expensive sneakers or bags or something they don’t have. So, the best way is to practice it yourself and show ’em the way. You could use dinner time to talk about the lil’ things that you are grateful for or are happy about. You can even ask the younger ones to write it down in their diary and draw lots of happy faces and things around them.
5. Help them Cultivate a Hobby
My father always said that, “you need a hobby the most when you don’t have people when you need the most“. A hobby can keep the child engaged in constructive stuff especially when everything around him/her is falling apart. It also helps the child to enjoy his/her own company and channelize his/her energies in a more creative direction.
If she likes to color or draw, encourage her to learn drawing and painting by enrolling her in a hobby class. If she is old enough then take her to an art exhibition to let her explore the world of arts. Do the same for a child who is more interested in machines or electronic toys. But it should be the motto of every parent to help the child discover his/her interests or passion. It could be something as simple as making paper planes or rolling dough! Help them find their calling.
Always help them look at the brighter side and confront pessimism. More on this next time! Till then keep shining!
~KaT & Kiddo~
- The Art of Being Happy for Someone Else / “Dare to BE HAPPY” (marbart06.wordpress.com)
- The art of accidental happiness (doctorsbag.wordpress.com)