Happiness is just one of the many emotions that we have within our very complex spectrum and the importance of gaining, preserving and knowing when we can expect the next dollop of happiness keeps us running towards this fleeting feeling.
As adults we should really be wiser to the allures of happiness and the unquenchable thirst that we have for it but with every passing fashion that comes and goes we are continually fooled into thinking that the next thing will make us happy and keep us happy.
In reference to how we like our happiness, it needs to quick to obtain and lasting in its effects but essentially that is not always its route and biologically there are those who are just more likely to be happier than you. So we all understand consumerism and that the we are all programmed to want, whether that’s something relatively easy to obtain like the new t-shirt that you have seen in your favorite shop or things that are likely to take longer and require a lot of commitment such as the owning of a home and we all have this feeling that whatever that it is we are striving will make us happy. This is something that we cannot in a capitalist, consumer driven society we cannot avoid.
But let’s get to parenting and consider that impact that our parenting techniques have upon the adults that our children grow into (obviously without piling all the blame upon us). When someone asks what I want for the future of my children (like many other parents) my answer is a simple and (believed to be) humble ‘I would like them to be happy’ because I strive to have happy children. I am always trying to keep them happy, I settled them as babies when they cried, I placate them with distractions when they are grumpy, I recharge them with helping them nap when they are tired, and the list could go on! Take for an example when your toddler wants a toy that someone else has you try two things, first you may try to give them a different toy and attempt to keep them happy with that toy until the occupied one becomes available (normally they have forgotten about their want) or you try to convince the other child to share the toy and encourage them to play together. Now whilst I do not have an alternative suggestion we complete this task until there is no longer a need to do so. We follow around our children trying to given them instant gratification every time they experience something that is an emotion like unhappiness. How does this translate into our adult years? How does the initial upbringing of children and the foundations we have set for them affect them in later life when we are not their to try and convince the person who got the promotion above your son or daughter to share it, because that is only fair.
I do not know how we would go about changing this instinctive feeling we have towards our rights to be happy because we don’t want to accept the inevitability that we will indeed spend much of our lives experience all other emotions more frequently than that of happiness. It doesn’t mean that when we are not happy we are unhappy, there are a whole host of other feelings and not all are negative but it really is happiness that we are all chasing, and fuck it is exhausting. So one person to another how can we help our children accept the reality that what we want for them can be tiresome, hard, fleeting and ultimately something they cannot harness for as long as they will want it?