4 Things to Learn about Happiness from Children

What is happiness? One can simply think of it as a state of mind which is beyond the momentary joys and pleasures that one feels upon accomplishment of goals. While pleasure and ecstasy are more worldly and fleeting, happiness is supposed to be more ethereal. However, despite the seemingly easy definition, why is it so difficult to understand and achieve happiness? And what is it that one can do to be happy?

These are some perplexing questions, answers to which we all seek. While some find solace in religious readings, others seek blessings from learned people and Gurus. Whatever the means be, I believe that start of this quest to understand happiness is also the beginning of one’s spiritual journey as it is only with great deal of effort, patience, gratitude, and humility that one can appreciate and adopt the learnings and bring changes in our lives.

While religious books and spiritual leaders do guide us and their role cannot and should not be undermined, I believe that we also have the greatest teachers in our children who, with their innocence and purity,

are able to give some amazing life lessons. My two beautiful daughters are a constant source of inspiration to become a better version of myself and I could not help but put all those learnings down to remind myself how incredibly simple life actually is and how one can try to be happy by following these steps:

1) Practise forgiveness: Children are the most innocent being. You scold them, and they become sad, but that ‘sadness’ is short lived as all is forgotten and forgiven after a good nap while they get back to being their happy self. Isn’t it so simple? Why and when do we, as adults, start keeping grudges? Maybe if we start forgiving people and forgetting unhappy experiences which we know cannot be changed, we will be able to appreciate the present in a more holistic manner and will have more space in our minds to receive all the positive energy. This also helps us calm our mind thus enabling us to focus on things that are important and make us happy. Having said that, while forgiveness is important to achieve happiness, it is a virtue which follows acceptance. Which means that it is only when we start accepting people for who they are, and not for what we want them to be, that we would be more empathetic, understanding and, hence forgiving. Thus, one should give our love irrespective of how the person is and all that love will find a way to come back to you.

2) Care less about what others think about you-: Children till a certain age are oblivious to others’ opinions about them. They cry, laugh, jump, play, sing and dance without a care in the world. But as adults, we become part of the society which expects us to follow social norms and customs which might not sync with our beliefs and philosophies in life. With these expectations comes the ‘fear of being judged’ which is one of the biggest hurdles in our path towards happiness. Others will always have an opinion, and seldom will that be in tune with our beliefs. The day we would acknowledge this and overcome the fear, we would be at peace, and will be able to enjoy life just like a kid.

3) Appreciate life: It amazes me how my daughter almost always gets excited about wearing her favourite dress first thing in the morning, cleaning the house with pretend toys, smelling the flowers (…and wishing them goodnight… yes to each one of them!), reading her favourite book a thousand times over, and looking at the stars and the moon. This reaffirms my belief that our ultimate source of happiness is always within us and should not be limited by external factors. This essentially means that our happiness should not wait till “the day I will find my soulmate”, or “the day I will buy a house” or “the day I will go on a world tour”.  These can be sources of momentary pleasures but to be truly happy, one must pause and appreciate this beauty called life. See, smell, hear, touch and feel! You will not regret it.

4) Love yourself: Last but not the least, being able to love oneself is one of the most important, but the least practised characteristics which brings happiness in our lives. We, especially women, in the tedious process of taking care of our families, raising kids and in simply ‘being adults’, tend to forget that our well-being is equally important. Our heart, soul and mind needs constant nurturing, and a happy soul spreads happiness. And here I am not even talking about loving oneself in the spiritual sense, but simply making time for oneself, be it to read a book, watch television, taking a walk in the park, going out with friends, or just sleeping! Yes, sleeping without a guilt is a rarity these days. We again have our children to learn from when it comes to loving oneself. My 2.5 years old daughter does not forget to admire herself in the mirror every day, watches her cartoons religiously despite the ultimatums and sleeps without a guilt.  No wonder that we all are the happiest around children, the happy souls!

So next time you are around children, take that opportunity to immerse yourself in their innocence and purity to realise how simple it is to achieve happiness!

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Saumya Mathur

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