Parenting • Jan 03, 2011

It’s a New Year – Make Every Day Count!

            It is a New Year. Time for New Year’s resolutions. I’m looking at all aspects of my life: kids, home, career, self.  I’m happy with my accomplishments for 2010 and about life in general. But, there are still a few things on the list that didn’t get accomplished. And, I want to create a list that at year’s end makes me feel great about what I’ve achieved for myself and my family.
            I’ve been reading two very good books. The first, Make Today Count, by John Maxwell is about, well, making everyday count. The second, The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin, is about a woman like many moms, who is content with her life but doesn’t find great joy in each day, doesn’t feel as truly “happy” as she would like. So, she sets out to answer the question, “What makes people happy?” Ms. Rubin didn’t have the option of moving and completely overhauling her life; instead she focused on “improving her life as it was.” Each month she tackled a new set of resolutions in pursuit of adding more “happiness” to her life.
            Recently, I attended a parenting seminar and the speaker said something that really stuck with me, “If you are okay, they will be okay.” Research on children looking at school performance, emotional stability, overall health and success as an adult, completely supports this very simple, very important statement.
            So, I’ve let all of these ideas tumble around in my head as I prepared this article.
            For our children to be happy, well-adjusted children and to grow into happy, well-adjusted adults, they need happy, well-adjusted parents. Not rocket science, I know. But the Holy Grail is how to achieve that goal. We get so caught up in the daily demands of being parents and our busy lives that days, months, years go by without having active, purposeful thoughts and plans on how to achieve “happiness” for ourselves.
            So, in the interest of helping more parents achieve this goal of being happier, and thus creating more well-adjusted, happy children in the world, I’ve taken Mr. Maxwell’s and Ms. Rubin’s thoughts and combined them into some ideas to help you think about putting your resolutions into place and accomplishing them. What does happiness look like for you?  What steps are necessary to achieve those goals? What resolutions do you want to make for 2011? Tomorrow I will post those ideas based on their books. For tonight, a bit of homework to get you is started.
     Think about what changes you would like to make in all aspects of life and list them on a piece of paper. Put down anything and everything that comes to mind. Happiness means very different things to different people, so defining it for yourself and your family is the most important first step. Read, try new things, and talk to others to define what this truly looks like for you. Envision a life where you are completely happy. What does it look like and what is within your control to change in order to get to that place?
     From a different perspective, what are the things that cause stress or unhappiness for you? What things would you like to change or improve? Look at all aspects of your life: your children, your home, your job, yourself. For yourself, look at physical, emotional and intellectual aspects. Are you doing things that address success in all of those areas? Do you exercise? Do you eat well? Are you spending enough time cultivating friendships or reading things that nurture you and not just the things that relate to parenting or Hollywood gossip? Tomorrow we will put your list to the test and into motion!