Lesson 1 – Happiness

Boys,

One of the “goals” I have with this letter is to pass on some things I’ve learned in my lifetime….  Partly in-case I am, for some reason, no longer here to do it myself, and partly just because I need to get it down in writing as they come to me or else I’ll forget to tell you later.

Like I said before, I’m going to reference movies and music a lot….

When I was a kid, I really liked the song “Just The Two Of Us” by Will Smith, because he described exactly what I wanted Daddy-hood to be like; loving, protecting, and teaching.  Toward the end he lists off a few things he wants to teach his son, and I think it is there that I decided I wanted to document all of the lessons I learned to teach my sons:

“…But yo, ain’t nothing promised, one day I’ll be gone

Feel the strife, but trust life does go on

But just in case

It’s my place

To impart

One day some girl’s gonna break your heart

And ooh ain’t no pain like from the opposite sex

Gonna hurt bad, but don’t take it out on the next, son

Throughout life people will make you mad

Disrespect you and treat you bad

Let God deal with the things they do

Cause hate in your heart will consume you too

Always tell the truth, say your prayers

Hold doors, pull out chairs, easy on the swears

You’re living proof that dreams do come true

I love you and I’m here for you…” – Just The Two Of Us by Will Smith

 

Anyway, I had a topic that came to me the other day, so I decided to put it here, but now that I sit here writing this, my mind is being flooded with things I want to say.

There is no secret to living a happy life.  It is a choice, and a habit that can be learned.  Here are a few tips to start forming that habit.

Balloons

1.  Understand that everyone is selfish.  It is human instinct to be selfish – it’s about self-preservation.  What I mean is, don’t expect other people to be considerate, selfless, others-serving, or even understanding.  People are not here to make you happy.  I think you should expect people to be self-absorbed, self-serving, oblivious to others, and even rude. 

 

  • But you should do everything in your power to be the exact opposite.  Fight that instinct inside you.  Be aware of others, gracious, appreciative, serve others, and give the benefit of the doubt.  Don’t insist on going first.  Insist on going last.  Humble yourself to others, give of yourself, and love even your enemies.  But remember, even if you are able to accomplish this, most people haven’t, so don’t expect the same in return.

 

2.  Don’t have expectations.  Expectations only lead to disappointment, especially if those expectations are not communicated.  Nothing digs a hole in a relationship faster than expecting someone to act a certain way, say a certain thing, or do/not do a certain thing just because you think that is what they SHOULD do because “they love you” or because “they are your friend.”  There are no guarantees they have the same thoughts, values, or perspective you do.  To them, love or friendship may mean something completely different than what you associate with those feelings. 

 

  • Remove the word “should” from your vocabulary.  All it communicates is dissatisfaction with something or someone because of your own expectations. 

 

3.  Life isn’t fair.  Stop expecting it to be.  Everyone is different and everyone’s history is different.  Everyone was born into a different situation, was given different opportunities along the way, and everyone chooses differently how they respond to those opportunities and life’s obstacles. 

 

  • Stop comparing yourself to others.  You have opportunities others wish for and others will have opportunities you wish for.  Some will face more or different obstacles than you and some may face less.  You can’t do anything about that.  But you can choose how to deal with the obstacles you face.  You can choose to turn any obstacle into an opportunity to better yourself or your situation.

 

4.  Be content with and grateful for what you do have, not full of desire and envy for what you don’t have.  Right now, at the ages of 4, 2 and 0, you already have more opportunities than 99.9% of the world population (regardless of age) just because of where and when you were born.  Don’t take that for granted.  Be appreciative of it.  You had nothing to do with that, so don’t ever feel proud of it.  Don’t look at those with more and be envious.  Look at those with less and be gracious.  You are lucky.  That is all.  Hopefully as you grow, you will be able to make something out of that luck. 

 

  • Know that your situation can change at any time, so don’t waste what you have now.  People go from mansions to homelessness in the blink of an eye.   Don’t take your life for granted.  You have been given a gift.  Use it, now.

 

5.  Learn to delay gratification.  This is probably the hardest lesson here.  The best things are the most difficult to achieve.  They take time and probably blood, sweat or tears.  You will often be presented with two options; one that will give you more but will take more effort or time, and one that will give you less (but still more than you have currently).  This second option will be easy or immediate, and therefore very appealing.  DON’T DO IT!  Be patient.  Wait.  Work at it.  The “more” option will be worth it.  This will be difficult, and I will do my best to help you cope with waiting, but the sooner you learn this, the happier and more successful you will be later.

 

What do you think?  Are there any I missed?  Share any additional tips you have in the comments.

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  • Jack

    That was excellent! You asked for anything else. It would be hard to add anything but I’ll try. As a survival instinct, we have to think quickly to evaluate a situation as to whether it may pose a threat. We have to recognize danger whether it’s a dangerous person or an on-coming train. Once “danger” can be ruled out, don’t follow the traditional “first impressions”. All too often, those impressions don’t tell the whole story of the person. Your relationship with Owen is a good example. And you thought I wasn’t paying attention.

    • http://suburbamom.com Daddy

      Very true! I tend to error toward giving the benefit of the doubt, but that could backfire. Caution, is a good way to proceed with any stranger or new situation.

  • Linda R

    Love your attitude and advice. Forgiving yourself is important too. Treat the people you love better than you would treat a stranger. So much advice, so little time!

    • http://suburbamom.com Daddy

      Thanks! I agree, forgiveness is a very important part of staying happy! That goes for forgiving others AND yourself, which is often the more overlooked of the two. I feel like people always forget about that one, or maybe don’t think it is that necessary. Or maybe they are just weirded out by it, as if it implies they are two internal people. :)