The Blog

As a newspaper columnist, Nancy Devlin, Ph.D. has written over 700 articles on subjects related to education and parenting. Welcome to her Classroom!

Are You Happy?

How would you reply if  your child asked you, “Are  you
happy?”   One  parent  said  he was not  able   to   answer   the
question.   He  knew   that he  was  committed  to  the  idea  of
achieving personal dignity by acquiring material success and that
he  was determined to be the  consummate provider.   He was  more
than successful in achieving these goals.  As   he  put it, “I’ve
experienced   two  midlife  Porsches.”  He  could not answer  his
child’s question, however, because  he felt it was unanswerable.

The   responsibility   of   parenthood   has   become   very complicated.   Parents want and love their children but also feel that  they   have   a commitment to their  careers.    They  feel guilty  no matter what their choice.   If they go to work and put their  baby  in a good day care placement, they  feel  tremendous guilt  and loss if  they  are not present when the baby says  his  first   word   or takes  his  first step.   If  they  stay  home,
they  feel they  are missing  out  on  the power and   excitement
generated  by  their jobs.  It is a no win situation.

Some  men  solve the problem by not making a commitment  and remaining  bachelors.   There is even a name for this  phenomena.  It is called the Peter Pan Syndrome.  Even this name has  negative connotations.   Such men are characterized as  being   interested only in career, profession, and materialism.

      No   wonder  young people are under such  stress.   The fun   is  taken  out  of  life because people  feel   forced   to make  seemingly  irrevocable  choices.   One researcher even said that   people do  not use their free time well.  They fritter  it away  or are too rushed to enjoy  it .   Young, upwardly   mobile professionals  ask  themselves “Am I  doing  this  right?   Am  I enjoying myself?”

     One  of  the  problems seems to be that people  seek happiness   as   if  it were something that is lost  and  can  be found.   Happiness is a state of being and comes in  many  shapes and  sizes in many different life styles and conditions of  life.  It  is  not  something that is earned or denied.   There  is  one saying: Life is what happens while you are planning ahead.    The same  can be said of happiness:   Happiness is what you  feel  as you are making your life’s  choices.   Decisions  are  made based on   peoples’s   best  knowledge   and   understandings   at  a particular  time.    While mistakes may be made, it does not mean that  people have failed or should feel guilty or feel  they  can never change.  Life should be more joyful than that.

It  is  time to bring some humor back  to  our  lives.    We seem  to be losing our sense of fun in our search  for  happiness and  the  good life.   When was the last time your family  had  a good laugh or found something uproariously funny?  Humor and laughter are therapeutic.  There does not seem to be enough of it around.   We cannot find it in the movies or TV.  I encourage you to actively  stimulate it and to nourish it in your family  and in your life.  Be good to yourself.  Enjoy every day.

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