There will be a moment when your child looks at you and asks, “Are you happy?” This happened to me just a while ago, when I was dressing my precocious three-year-old son. His emotional intelligence is already off the charts, and that little check in with me, his Daddy, a little rushed and irritated in that moment, was a spot-on read of my mental state.
No, I actually wasn’t happy. I was frustrated and my face showed it. No smile, no bright eyes. It may have been because of something he did or was doing, or maybe I was stuck in my head. Whatever the reason, he stopped me in my tracks, and since then I’ve had to check myself, not just when I’m with him, looking him square in the face, but when I’m with myself, or with anyone else for that matter.
There’s new evidence in the field of psychology that shows happiness itself is a fluid state of mind, with varying degrees and types. The kind of happiness you feel for your new baby, is different from the happiness you feel when you find your favorite and rare Ben & Jerry’s at the grocery store.
The true challenge is sustaining happiness, no matter the type, moment to moment. True, we are never going to be happy all the time. We are not robots. We humans ride little emotional roller coasters all day, every day. So how do we keep the happy turned on?
Do what my son did: ask yourself. Am I happy?
If the answer is yes, proceed with your joy. If the answer is no, ask yourself, “What can I do in this very moment to change my state of mind?” Try it. A child is patiently waiting to see what you’ll do.
Photo credit: Robert Couse-Baker.