Tuesday, November 25, 2008

For My Seven Year-Old Daughter

Dear Miss M,
I noticed an article today that happy people don't watch much television. That although happy people enjoy television, unhappy people seem to watch more of it. Now, I know you think I'm going to scold you for wasting your fine brain on shows like, "America's Funniest Home Videos," or "Dirty Jobs," or the truly dreadful "Andy Griffith Show," but I'm not. I actually have a bigger point to make, and you'll be relieved to know it has little to do with how much TV you watch.

Something I’ve learned--that took me practically 40 years to learn and that I'm absolutely determined you'll get right earlier than I did--is that making yourself happy is the single most important job you'll ever have. And although I would dearly love it to be otherwise, happiness in life will not just come to you. Finding happiness will require inquiry, diligence, and work. Yes, yes, there may be those occasional magic moments when all is right in your world—your favorite friends are fun, your clothes make you feel pretty, your teachers are especially kind, no one's guarding the Halloween candy jar, and your mom inexplicably lets you watch all the Saturday morning TV you can stand--and that’s great, those moments when you feel as if you didn’t have to work for happiness, but you're happy anyway.

But the rest of the time, it will be a job to find what makes you content. You'll need to spend time considering what you want and what is good for you, then seek that out. And never stop.

I'm making this sound hard, aren't I? Happiness should be easier, right? I'm going to let you in on a big secret, something that even some adults don't know: Making yourself happy isn't easy at all. Most people--your mom included--struggle with negativity, sadness, and anger. Our happiness isn’t easy to come by, and without work, we slip into a funk.

Miss M, you can accept these funks as unavoidable and part of who you are. And under certain sad circumstances, being blue may be completely appropriate. But as a counteractive measure, I challenge you to find the things that make you happy. Think of a situation where you'd like to be (Paris? President of the United States? Candy factory owner?) and work toward that goal. Along the way, do the things that bring you joy. Every single day. Some people get happiness from the art they make or the songs they write. Some people love games or sports. Others love animals or being of service to others. Some simply love a good piece of candy.

What will you do to make yourself happy?

Set your fine brain to it. Yes, make sure you eat and sleep enough because it's hard to be happy or healthy when you're tired and hungry. Strive for balance and moderation, of course (that means don't eat everything in the Halloween candy jar at once). But always, always make time for the activities that make you laugh and enjoy yourself. Believe me, finding happiness is as important for you as fresh air, sleep, and good food.
Love to you always,

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

good mama-ing(-: Betsy