6 Ways to Boost Your Happiness and Be a Positive Role Model for Your Kids

Family Matters on 11.07.12
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I’ve noticed that as we all get older and we naturally experience more hardships over time, it’s easy to slip from a mindset of openness and optimism into a state of fatalistic negativity. We might think that, with all we’ve learned over time, we’re doing our kids a favor by drilling into them that life is difficult. These sorts of messages, however, can make kids needlessly fearful -- or disrespectful of your attempts at being a wet blanket.

It’s much more helpful to your kids to teach resilience by expanding your horizons as you age. Check out these six tips to keep negativity in check, to teach your children confidence in the face of adversity, and to spread genuine happiness to your whole family.

1. Accept that you are responsible for your own happiness.


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Many of us know conceptually that we’re responsible for our own happiness, but it doesn’t always work that way in practice. We think: if only my kids would help out more, or if my friends understood me better, or if I were in better shape, or if my mate would bring me flowers, or if we could take better vacations…the list goes on. We all think if we can just get a few aspects of our lives cleaned up, we’ll be happier.

The fact is, we all have plenty to be happy about right now, every moment of our lives. Start creating your own happiness by being present to all these gifts you have: your kids, the food in your pantry, the roof over your head, your friends and your mate, your ability to smile. While you look for happiness in what you’ve already got and what you have the potential to become, help your children follow your example. You’ll all be happier for it.  

2. Develop a kind and respectful inner voice.


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We all have the tendency to speak more sharply to our family members than we would to our acquaintances. This sets a sad standard in our lives: the ones we love must bear the brunt of our bad behavior. Remember that you are developing your child’s inner voice as you go. If you are impatient, terse and inattentive to your child, then your child will learn that this is the kind of treatment she’s worth. Conversely, when you treat your child with kindness and respect, your child will go on to see herself as someone who has great value and potential in the world.

If you had a friend who spoke to you like you sometimes speak to yourself, you wouldn’t stay friends. Soften your own inner voice. Be kind, polite and generous with yourself, and at the same time you will learn to be kinder and more polite to those who are near and dear to you. Remember, when it comes to your kids, what you give is what you get. Be nice.

3. Choose your friends wisely.


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It’s easy to fall into friendships out of convenience when you’re a tired and busy adult. Do you have any friendships that really light you up on the inside and make you strive to become a bigger and better version of yourself? If you don’t have as many fun-tastic friendships as you’d like, then figure out what it takes to make more.

You might have to move out of your comfort zone and attend workshops and events in search of people who inspire you to do better and be greater. Make friends with people who reflect the person you want to be and who help you fulfill your destiny. When you choose friends you admire and who show you love and respect, you are not only held to a higher standard of behavior, you get the chance to model an elevated level of kindness and dedication to your kids.

4. Stop being a Judgy McJudge Pants and become a cheerleader.


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When we hear about somebody striving to accomplish something – whether it’s to start a new business, to lose weight (even for the 100th time), or to tackle a DIY project – it might be tempting to think, “Ugh, please. Spare me the details.” Sometimes we secretly hope others will stay small, stay on our level, and not be such a threat to the status quo. This sets a subtle yet horrible example for our kids. If you act like a grumpy buzzkill, you are teaching your kids to do the same. As Parentables blogger Sami Grover wrote:

Allowing your kids to enjoy the wonder of youth, and even letting yourself get carried away with their enthusiasm, is one of the primary rewards of being a parent.

Be an encouragement machine. Cheer for other peoples’ efforts and celebrate their victories with them. Compliments are free; throw them around willy nilly. Appreciate how amazing people are and the good deeds they are capable of. Be happy for those who are taking a risk, trying something new, or making progress. Become a cheerleader, and be thankful for other peoples’ blessings. Bonus: you reap what you sow.

5. Pick big goals and be persistent.


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While many people get an inkling of what their calling might be, very few actually take the time and energy to parse it out and make it happen. When you muster the courage to pick big goals and steadily work toward them, you are rewarded with an insurmountable level of calm and inner peace. When you know that you’ll look back on your life and feel confident that you really went for it, all of the effort and upheaval it takes to do big things becomes worth it.

Consistently taking the steps to make big dreams happen shows your kids what it takes to form goals, to act towards their end, and adjust your sails when necessary. By following your example, your kids will learn that large goals may require vast effort, but living towards great dreams and intentions will make you seem “lucky” in the long run.

6. Emphasize the possibility of positive results.


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The short way of putting it is this: be an optimist. Even those of us who consider ourselves relentless optimists still have the niggling tendency to imagine failure in order to soften the blow in case of disaster. Here’s a cool fact: your mind needs to envision success in order to realize triumph.

Rather than harboring negative fantasies of adversity and failure, focus on your desired outcome. Rehearse it in your mind’s eye as you lie in bed before you fall asleep. Then take positive action towards achieving the results you want, while keeping your mind’s eye on the prize. Teach your kids that happiness and success depend largely on where and how you focus your attention.

When we expect great things, we’re more likely to achieve great things. While we don’t have control over everything, we can control our attitudes and our expectations. That’s a lesson we can all put to good use.

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