The Keys to Happiness, By Guest Blogger Deborah Bohling
I just want my kids to be happy. I’ve said that so many times over the years without really giving any thought to what I mean by it. What do I mean? Do I want them to never be unhappy? Do I want them to never experience any emotion other than elation?
There are so many self-help books on how to live a happy life. Trust me, I know, I’ve read them all. And yet, I’m not happy all the time. How can I possibly be happy watching the nightly news? To maintain that that is possible suggests that I must be immune to others pain.
So do I want my kids to be happy?
My daughter has been diagnosed with clinical depression. She wasn’t always depressed. As a young toddler she was “happy”. My little blond haired, blue eyed flower child, I used to call her. But her demons took over. She was first diagnosed with emetophobia which is a fear of vomiting. This morphed into a fear of germs, which in turn became full blown Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Living with mental illness led to depression. At her worst, she wrote a note to me, a cry for help saying that she didn’t want to live anymore. She was tired of the struggle and she felt like a burden to me.
A burden? Where did she get that idea? I loved her, I loved taking care of her, and yet, hadn’t she always heard me say I just want my kids to be happy? And isn’t it possible she had that same wish for me?
I’m sure she saw that I was often saddened by her struggles. And in her mentally unhealthy mind, it’s possible she drew the conclusion that I wasn’t happy because of her. After three boys, my daughter was a special gift. She has opened up a world for me that didn’t exist when it was just me, my husband and my boys. A tomboy growing up, I never cared about jewelry and handbags, makeup or manicures. Rachael taught me about all of those things. And now I regularly treat myself to all things girly.
But that’s just one of the ways she has been such a gift. She has taught me that every day is precious. That we never know what tomorrow will bring and that love wins, even in the darkest of places.
I’m not always happy, it’s true. But for my daughter to think that she might be a burden because sometimes I’m sad, or frustrated or even angry, is not something I want her to believe. Life brings a myriad of emotions. So to focus on one as the be all and end all is to miss out on the richness of being human.
I no longer wish for my children to be happy. I no longer read self-help books on the keys to happiness. Happiness is one-sided and definitely overrated. Now, I wish for them what they have given me. Purpose, meaning and most of all, love. And that makes me happy.
If you or someone you know needs help, visit the Jordan Porco Foundation’s resources page.
The opinions expressed in this blog are personal, and not those of the Jordan Porco Foundation. The information in this blog post is provided for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as mental health advice from the individual author or the Jordan Porco Foundation. You should consult a mental health professional for advice regarding your individual situation.