Most parents share a common denominator – you want your kids to be happy, healthy and successful. Who wouldn’t want that for their kids? The question really becomes, how do you get there? Here are a couple ideas to help pave the way.
1. The Happiness Paradox
It is so common in our culture to simply strive for happiness. However, research reveals that pursing happiness may have a counter-intuitive result. In their book, The Dark Side: When Positive Emotion Goes Wrong, Brett Q. Ford and Iris B. Mauss summarize recent research like this:
“The more people pursue positive emotion, the less likely they are to experience positive outcomes, including well-being, psychological health, and feelings of happiness…This suggests that a common goal many people pursue – happiness – may lead to decreased well-being, psychological health, and happiness.”
Instead, they indicate, happiness is more likely obtained through the acceptance of our emotions, selfless activities, and prosocial (rather than self-focused) expenditures.
2. Exponentially Compounded Decisions
It’s easy to let ourselves believe that small decisions are insignificant, but of course it is the small decisions that lead us to our greatest accomplishments. One mom put it really well – Add 10 years to your child’s decisions and imagine what that would look like. An 8-year-old who doesn’t make his bed may become the 18-year-old who expects his college roommates to do his dishes for him.
Of course, the only decisions that we can control are the ones that we make today, but those decisions – even the small ones – pave the way for who we will become tomorrow.
3. Define Your Success
All too often our culture tells us that success is a nice car, a position or a network of other people. These things are all nice and may contribute to our quality of life, but at the end of the day, are these the keys to our ultimate well-being? If we want to be successful, and if we want to set kids up for success, we need to define what true success looks like. As Steve Markel says, “How we define success defines us, and what defines us defines our success.” Taking the time to consider the what true success looks like may make all the difference to future well-being.