Every morning I leave my child a to-do list. A short list of chores to occupy her during the day, really it is just reminders. She probably doesn't even need the list.
One thing I have left off her list this summer:
To Be Happy
It should be a simple concept, except it is not simple at all. I leave the house not happy at all to be going to work. I go to work not happy at all my office isn't located next to the sand dune. I pay bills and I'm not happy when I see where the money is actually being spent. I'm definitely not happy when I'm doing dishes (why, oh why can they not reuse a cup!) or folding laundry. And not one person I know is happy when cleaning the bathroom.
Like most parents, I struggle with wanting my child to be happy but wanting them to understand they won't always feel that way. And it's okay. It is okay not to be happy at every moment. What is important is that the happy moments outnumber the unhappy ones. That she understands happiness starts within herself. She must learn to be responsible for her own happiness (without turning into a brat). That happiness does not come from material things but from moments.
I want her to learn (and me to remember) that it is a choice to be happy. That she must decide each day to start it on the positive note and not the negative. How she starts her day will predetermine how it will end. I want her to learn that happiness can be a state of being if only she will learn to let go of the little things (like someone not reusing a glass). There are times she will be sad, scared and unhappy. Those moments, I hope are balanced with feelings of pride, peace and happiness. We both need to refocus on what is good in our lives.
Does she need the reminder to be happy? Probably not. But just like reminding her to practice her guitar, I am going to begin adding another reminder: