Smiles are fun to do

I just want my kids to be happy. Don’t we all? Every parent shares this sentiment and I think every parent utters this phrase eventually, “I just want my kids to be happy.” As if happiness was the consolation prize. As if happiness was some microwavable sandwich one could just pick up at the gas station for two bucks.

Happiness is hard. It slips through your fingers the moment you finally grasp it. It brightens with time and casts a shadow from your memories upon your waking life as if taunting you from the past while teasing you in the future. Happiness sucks.

Or could it be that we just suck at happiness? If anything, kids are much better at happiness than we are.

The other day my three year old came up to me and said, “Dad! Smiles are fun to do. See!” and then he cocked his head and smiled as big as he could before running off in the other direction, giggling. He gets it.

Smiles are fun to do. It’s possibly the best advice that anyone has ever given to me, and it was delivered by a person who’s only been pooping in a toilette for a month.

My kids are already happy. I just want to prepare them for a word that will try and take that happiness from them. I want them to be useful. From usefulness comes pride and integrity and fulfillment. From usefulness comes a marketable skill that they can derive an income to support their life. From usefulness comes selflessness which is the shortcut to happiness.

I want my kids to be useful right now. My three year old recently became responsible for filling up the dog food. It’s a big deal because he has to take the bowl downstairs and fill it up from the bin without spilling and then bring it back up for the dogs. Then the dogs get to eat and he understands that he made that possible. He’s proud of his own usefulness.

The pursuit of raising happy kids is no simple task because happiness is not so easily achieved. I’m going to really meditate on this concept for a while because I think the question of “how can one instill a lasting¬†sense of happiness in their children?” is exactly the right approach to parenting, all the time. Actually I think the question of “How can I achieve happiness?” is exactly the right question to be asking, all the time.

For now, I’m going to follow some advice which was given to me by someone who’s wisdom greatly surpasses their age. I’m going to smile because smiles are fun to do.