Most parents say they just want their children to be happy. Although it seems like a worthy goal, our happiness-focused culture is actually having the opposite effect on our children. They feel that something is wrong with them if they are unhappy.
For the younger generation, much of their world revolves around social media posts. These tend to present a distorted picture of real-life by only showing perpetual happiness and seemingly perfect people. Zoom even added an application to enhance the looks of participants. This leads to unrealistic comparisons as well as the devaluing of the full range of human emotions and exacerbates feelings of unhappiness.
No one is happy all the time and life’s unpredictability makes sustaining that emotion impossible. Events will occur such as death, natural disasters, financial stress, pandemics, and even personal disappointments, which are out of our control.
The goal of happiness is unattainable.
According to Viktor E. Frankl, psychiatrist and author of Man’s Search for Meaning, “It is the very pursuit of happiness that thwarts happiness. Happiness cannot be pursued. It must ensue.”
Our children need a reason to be happy.
Happiness is a by-product of having found meaning in life. Meaning is specific to the individual. It cannot be given, it must be discovered.
This discovery process–the journey of life–requires freedom of choice and responsibility. It involves making choices moment to moment based on the circumstances of an individual’s life in pursuit of goals and dreams that matter to them.
My wish for my children, and for yours, is that they find meaning in their lives and that this meaning brings them happiness.