I believe that part of my responsibility, as a parent, is to teach my children about happiness. The other day, I was shopping and saw this sign on the wall that said, “Happiness Is Not A Destination, It’s A Way Of Life.” Yes, YES! That is so true. I want my kids to understand that life will be hard, many times, but they have the ability to rise above their troubles and maintain their happiness. Most of the time, happiness can be found right where you are, you just have to make some attitude adjustments, and put real effort into it…because, no matter where you run to, life will never be a cake-walk.
I think I shared this with you a long time ago, but I’m bringing it up again…one of my most valued things that my wise father taught me was the importance of being well-rounded. He taught me to regularly analyze my life and see where I was falling short. Wherever I was falling short, would likely be a source of my unhappiness. He said to set goals and to see to it that I am always a well-rounded person, and then I could be happy. My dad is a major goal-setter. It always made me smile (and feel so comforted) when I would stumble on his notes with his goals scribbled down. I loved knowing that he had goals to take my mom on more dates. I loved knowing that he was going to try and exercise every day, before work. It felt good to see he wanted to try and read his scriptures daily…and many more things. As a child, it made me feel so secure, knowing that my dad was only focused on making his life even better, RIGHT WHERE HE WAS AT. He didn’t focus on what other people needed to do, just on what he could do. Happiness is his way of life.
So, when I reflect on MY life, these are the things I consider:
1. How am I doing physically? Am I exercising and eating appropriately?
2. How am I doing emotionally? Am I getting the alone time I need to sort out my thoughts? Am I communicating well with those I love?
3. How am I doing in my responsibilities? Am I giving my spouse and my children the quantity of my time and quality time? Am I giving them the best of me and showing my love for them? Am I a good sister, daughter, and friend?
4. How am I doing spiritually? Do I live the way that God wants me to? Do I set aside time to learn more of Him? Am I recognizing the many blessing that I have and am I truly thankful for them? Can I acknowledge my weaknesses and strive to improve them?
5. How am I doing educationally? Am I keeping my mind sharp and furthering my education? Am I developing my talents?
6. Am I serving others? Do I have a compassionate heart and am I setting aside time to help others?
On a side note, I recently read an interesting article in the news about how simple counting your blessings can dramatically increase your happiness…
“Research has proven the pull of an upward spiral to be just as powerful as a downward spiral. Using the “three good things” intervention, the father of positive psychology Martin Seligman helped 94 percent of his depressed participants rise from the level of severely depressed to either moderately or mildly depressed in only 15 days. Considering that this was the only intervention used in the study and that it takes only a few minutes a day, the results are nothing short of miraculous.”
Anyway, I feel most happy when I am balanced in each of those above-mentioned areas. My dad’s advice has been so valuable to me, in my life, that I want to share it with my children.
Enter…Family Night. Truth be told, my church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) asks us to have Family Night once a week. Sometimes we call it Family Night, sometimes we call it Family Home Evening (or FHE). But whether you are “LDS”, or not, I believe Family Night is beneficial for every family. It’s time, set aside, to teach your children some of the most valuable truths in the world…things they most likely won’t learn in school, in their extra-curricular activities, from their friends, or anywhere else. Some things just have to be taught in the home. So, that’s what we do…we gather the kids in the family room, have a little lesson, play some sort of game, and have treats afterwards. The kids love it, and I believe it gives them the same comforting feeling, that I mentioned earlier. Sometimes we are slackers and miss a week, but it is our goal, as a couple, to do our best.
Family Night: Being Happy
- Ask the children what they think this quote means…”Happiness is not a destination, it’s a way of life.”
- Share your personal feelings on happiness.
- Explain the method of analyzing your life, gauging how well-rounded you are, as a means to identifying your source of unhappiness.
- Teach them to set goals with themselves, to bring any shortage up to level.
I went to the Land of Marbles, and bought a big box of standard marbles. I then got a mason jar for each one of the kids and put the first letter of their name on top, nothing fancy. I told them that the empty jars represent them and the marbles represent happiness. I gave them a list of things that they can do to earn marbles, to fill up their jar. Each of the requirements is something that I believe will help them to be well-rounded, happy individuals. I’m hoping this will help develop some good habits, as well as teach them to take responsibility for their happiness, and find it where they are.
Doing a kind deed (one that took real effort)
Reading their scriptures
Writing in their journals
Reading a novel
Work on developing talents
Accomplishing their personal goal (to keep their room clean, not fight with their sister, etc.)
Eating no junk food all day
Get “caught being awesome” by Mom or Dad
Make a list of 10 things that made them happy throughout the day (or things they are thankful for)
Who knows, I may come up with a few more. But, anyway…their jar slowly starts to fill up with lots of marbles, and when it overflows, they get a *bonus* date with mom or dad. We already rotate through the kids and take them on dates, hence the *bonus* date. They’re way excited about it, and it has been a way easy program to implement. I have let them be in charge of filling their jars, and all I do is randomly encourage them. It also helps to have some cool marbles….they love digging through the big marble jar for their favorites.
Instead of a treat, this time, we just did a fun dinner. In the summer, we go up to mountains, and make tin foil dinners, pretty regularly. The kids love it…so, since the mountains are still snowy and cold right now, we just did tin foil dinners right in the oven. I now have constant requests to make them again! It’s such an easy dinner…and, way good.
All I did was get some lean ground beef, form it into a patty, and lay it on a large sheet of tinfoil. I sprinkled the patty with hamburger seasoning, and topped it with whatever veggies we liked…sliced onions, carrots, potatoes, and mushrooms. I wrapped the meal up in the tin foil, then wrapped it again with another sheet (to prevent the juices from leaking out). I baked them at 350 for maybe 50 minutes, then checked them to make sure the meat was cooked and the veggies were soft. Serve with ketchup!
Make it a good day (another great thing my dad says!),
For more Family Night ideas, check out these links: