While raising our two daughters my lovely bride (Moe) regularly reminded them that it was not our job, as their parents, to make them happy. She persistently taught them that their happiness was a choice, and solely their personal responsibility. She further reinforced with the girls that happiness was a psychological/emotional/spiritual state, not a function of momentary conditions.
Having been present during many of those counseling events, the message slowly sank into my skull as well. Little by little I came to a better understanding of Moe’s meaning underneath those therapy sessions. She wasn’t teaching our daughters to be naïve or self-deceptive about their emotional state. She was teaching them about moderation and contentedness, both of which are learnable skills.
Whatever circumstances or conditions life throws at us, we get to decide how we react to it.
Choosing “unhappiness” or a victimhood mentality does absolutely no good. Ever. And it generally makes other folks NOT want to be around us, which exacerbates the woe-is-me-ishness.
Choosing to be happy, on the other hand, sets us psychologically on the road to recovery, self-control, optimism, resilience. It has the added dual benefit of attracting companionship and irritating one’s enemies.
Glad I was present for those lessons.