The secret to happiness

Reading Time: 3 minutesFact: 99.99 per cent of parents spend at least 99.99 per cent of their time worrying about the same thing – their child’s happiness. Well, at least I think those percentages are correct. OK, OK, so I made them up. But they feel about right. Right?

In truth, it’s probably even closer to 100 per cent. If you’re a new mum (and if so, I offer you a huge welcome to the fold!), you should know that in the not-too-distant future you, too, will be joining the rest of us in pondering the big Happiness question. How can we know for sure that our child is truly happy? And if we suspect that they’re not, how can we change that? It’s one of the biggies we parents have to face.

As luck wouldn’t have it, you can’t just walk into a store and pick up the latest Happiness Measuring tool. Despite the speed at which our planet is using and abusing technology, nobody has quite managed to come up with one. Or probably even tried. Which, unfortunately, means we’ve been left to our own devices. (And, no, I don’t mean tablets, phones and laptops.)

But with so many other parenting duties vying for our attention, we often end up looking for the quickest solutions. Maybe if we just buy them more things, they’ll be happy. Or maybe if we buy them that one thing their best friend seems to really enjoy. Or maybe if we take them to more places. Or get them more friends. Or move their bedtime a little earlier. Or possibly later. Or maybe not. Searching for the solution to their happiness can often mean the end of ours. And that, my parenting friends, simply ain’t good.

But what if there was a measuring tool that was guaranteed to work? And was completely free? Yes, you heard right. I wouldn’t even charge a cent for it. And although I’d like to pretend that it’s because I’m such a super-generous person, it’s actually because you already own it. You see, the thing is (drum roll, please)…

The measure of a child’s happiness is a child’s happiness.
It really is as simple as that. As parents, we know the difference between our child being happy whilst also having a good moan from time to time and our child being unhappy. They’re two completely different states. But if your child is happy in their own skin and daily life – despite your fretting that they don’t have enough friends or things, or even that they have too many of them – then they’re happy. And there’s absolutely nothing you need to do. Nothing. Well, except maybe nurture that happiness.

So how do we nurture happiness, I hear you ask. Simple: By encouraging them in the things they enjoy – the things that really engage them in a joyous, happy state. If spending an entire day playing in mud is the thing that makes your child smile and laugh, then give them more mud. If reading books is their one true love, then take them to a library. If it’s creating towers of blocks, then challenge them to see how high they can build them. Giving more happiness to an already happy child sustains it, and surrounding an unhappy child with their own personal idea of happiness can create it. It’s one of the joys of being human.

And of course, one of the greatest joys of happiness is that it’s infectious. The more you nurture and sustain theirs, the more you nurture and sustain your own. Which makes for one big, happy family!

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Orla Breeze
Orla was born in Dublin, one of several children in a large Irish family. Yes, it was chaotic at times, but there was always someone to play Monopoly with! At 23, she moved to the UK to live a glamorous life in media. (Well, if you call living in Manchester glamorous.) Three years later, she was transferred to Hong Kong, where the glamour really began. (Well, if you call living on Lamma glamorous.) Fast-forward three years and, after a brief stint back in Ireland, she triumphantly returned to Hong Kong, where she wasted no time getting engaged, married and pregnant. After deciding it was time for a career change, she launched an online parenting magazine whilst training in Emotional Freedom Techniques. Two more kids, a move to the UK, and yet another triumphant return to Hong Kong later, Orla now runs a variety of parenting workshops, which you can learn about at www.orlabreeze.com.

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