Parenting: Happiness vs. Pleasure

Parenting: Happiness vs. Pleasure

Will more ‘having’ mean more happiness?

We want to give our kids everything, especially what we never had. Yet we’ve seen our kids excited with a new toy one moment, only to lose interest later. Other times, we feel they don’t appreciate what they already have. Then we hope that as adults they become monetarily successful so again they can have whatever they want. But will more ‘having’ mean more happiness?

Happiness comes from within us

One of my teachers told me that happiness comes from within us. Pleasure comes from the outside expressed through our five senses (touch, taste, sight, hearing, and smell). So when we are shopping, eating at a nice restaurant, enjoying a vacation, driving a fun car, what we are really doing is seeking pleasure. That old saying, “Money can’t buy happiness” is true but it sure can buy a lot of pleasure.

Happiness is not connected to things

We might be teaching our kids how to have pleasure, but not about happiness. The belief that pleasure equals happiness will only teach them to develop a habit of wanting more. In our society, the desire to want more has lead to ever increasing cycles of addiction (too much) and depression (lack of). Happiness is not connected to things.

The source of happiness is within us

Instead, we can help our kids understand happiness comes from intangible things – love, family, friends, helping others, living healthy etc… The source of happiness is within us. By learning to love and accept ourselves and others we develop an inner view that builds peaceful resilience. For example, we can help our kids be aware of social media and how it makes them feel. If our state of mind is grateful, then there is a good chance we will be happy.

Develop a practice of gratitude and space for inner peace

From this insight, help our kids develop a practice of gratitude and space for inner peace, free of emotional roller coasters and injections of daily drama. Through this gift, happiness doesn’t depend on doing and consuming; it is a simple decision on how to be.


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