I know what many of you are probably saying under your breath or to the screen: "There's only so much of this I can take. We all have a breaking point!" It's true, you might have seen or read news stories lately about how some parents are "hitting bottom" or "reaching new lows" at this stage of the COVID-19 pandemic. We all have a reason, no matter who you are or where you live, to be experiencing this right now.
So, why talk about happiness? Right now?!? Turns out, happiness is not an achievement and isn't totally dependent upon on your situation or current life circumstances. The science of happiness has come a long way in the past few decades, so let's talk about why happiness is so important and how we can teach our kids, and ourselves, ways to cultivate happiness (yes, even now during the pandemic!).
My favorite definition of happiness is "the experience of joy, contentment or positive well-being, combined with a sense that one’s life is good, meaningful and worthwhile.” This definition, by Sonja Lyubomirsky, captures both the experience in the moment and a long-term sense of life as a whole. What we're learning is that happiness is not the outcome of a process or success in a task. In fact, many people who study happiness now think that we have it backward, that greater success and achievement in life is a result of happiness instead of the cause.
So, how can we help ourselves (and teach our kids) to cultivate positive emotions during tough times? Here are five strategies to try out at home:
This a guest post authored by Dr. Parker Huston, formerly the director of the Nationwide Children's Hospital On Our Sleeves campaign and now owner of Central Ohio Pediatric Behavioral Health. Check out his recent appearance on The Dadass Podcast.
CBUS Dads is a community of central Ohio area dads balancing an active lifestyle with being an involved parent. A Saturday for us may involve enjoying morning t-ball, lunch at a new local spot and an evening at a summer festival with our families. We may live downtown, in the suburbs or somewhere between, but our common thread is that we continue to experience the community we love - now as parents.