You know, I recently had a moment where my calendar had something every day of the week after work. I was exhausted from the previous week, and even though I see my daughter every day, I felt like I hadn’t seen her in a while. When I get tired, I turn on autopilot and “zombie” through my days. She did something that, honestly, was not that big of a deal, but I had to “walk it off” because I knew that if I didn’t, I would say something that I would regret. When I came back, I told her I needed some space, and she made a statement that shook my world. She said, “I understand. Whatever will make you happy.”
I always knew she was smart and wise beyond her years, but it’s like I had not seen it. In that moment, I was shocked because I thought I was hiding it. I had attributed my thoughts and mood to be related to tiredness. I realized that not only was I tired, but I was unhappy. She knew what it was before I even acknowledged it within myself. Kids are very perceptive. Though we think we are protecting them, they know things—even the things we wish they didn’t. I realize that in this season of my life, I will teach her something about happiness, and what I do next is crucial to her future happiness. I had to think about what I want her to learn from my life. I realized that no one had ever told me these things, and I am sharing because maybe no one ever told you either. Some of this maybe controversial, but it’s my truth as I know it right now. Here are five things no one told me that I will work to teach my daughter:
1) Happiness is a choice…and you deserve it.
Every day, you are presented the choice to be happy or unhappy, to be at peace or stressed. I never want to teach my daughter that she is not in control of her own happiness. I make an effort to say (in front of her) once a day, “Okay. I choose to be happy right now.” When she asks me what she should do, I ask, “What will make you happiest?” Knowing this and putting this into practice will change the trajectory of her life, and hopefully, lead to the fullest one possible.
2) You can’t make everyone happy, so start with yourself.
Let me preface this by saying selfish people are never happy people. I am not encouraging or suggesting that you be selfish. Selfishness is an action that warrants discipline in my house when it comes to issues of the heart. What I am saying is that you cannot live your life to please others. When I make a choice, the first thing I consider is who is affected and how they will feel. Being considerate is a great thing, but it should not serve as the sole filter for your decision-making. My considerations should only be “What is God’s will? How does this affect my child? How does this affect me?” Everything else is irrelevant and not my business. Are the people who affect your decision-making considering you in theirs? I want to teach my daughter not to allow people’s feelings to dictate her life. I have spent so much of my life that way and made so many life decisions because it was what was favorable among people. It wasn’t for attention but instead to make people happy. I now take inventory of my life and realize that there is only one person making decisions solely on the basis of making me happy. I never want that for anyone.
3) If you keep yourself happy, you have more to give to others.
In my happiest times, I have gotten so much more accomplished in serving others. When you are unhappy, you cannot serve with joy. I want my daughter to serve the world but with happiness and a joyful heart. I want her to be a giver—but a cheerful giver.
4) You are always doing the best that you can in every moment with what you know.
Any time I do anything that can be perceived negatively or that is not exactly right, I spend so much time beating myself up about it. We all need to teach ourselves to extend grace to ourselves. We know what we know in every moment of our lives, and it takes a mishap or mistake for us to know better. Once we know better, we will do better. That’s it. I believe this leads to self-acceptance, which leads to a happier life.
5) Be unapologetically you.
Nothing leads to more frustration in life than trying to be someone else. I am generally a pretty serious person–though it has been brought to my attention that I am hilarious. I like to be serious. It does not mean I am in a bad mood or mean; I am just serious. People have tried to convince me that I am “too serious.” What I have come to realize is that being serious is my right and joking is theirs. I shouldn’t force my seriousness on them any more than they should push their joking on me. But, I should not compromise myself either. In situations where that is the expectation, I should remove myself. Why? Because I don’t apologize for being serious. It is my personality and the way I am. In the past, I have unintentionally taught my daughter to apologize for who she was by apologizing for things she did. For example, my daughter does not speak to very many people. It may take years for her to even greet you. People would walk up to her and speak, and I would apologize if she did not. Two years ago, I felt convicted about that. I stopped apologizing. I stopped forcing her into conformity. Occasionally, you will see her bouncing into a place or, if you’re lucky, she will wave to you from across the room or gesture you to do something. Hahaha.
These are all things that I was failing myself by not doing. Now that I know that my daughter is aware of this issue, I cannot fail her by not taking the necessary actions that would teach her these things. I have some big decisions to make and I am at peace knowing that by changing my life, I am changing the way she will view and live hers in the future. Parenting and living are both journeys, and I am always learning. I look forward to continuing to share these lessons with you guys.
Please share your thoughts below in the comment section.