Teaching Kids how to Create their Own Happiness

Creative independence

Article by Wendy McCance

I have had some opportunities in the last couple of years to really teach my kids about the importance of depending on yourself and not others to fulfill your own happiness.  I have been grateful to be able to show the kids from some personal examples why it’s so important to develop your own interests and find ways to enjoy your own company.

About a year and a half ago, we had a person who is close to our family stay at our home for about 5 months.  They had just divorced, and needed a place to stay while they got back on their feet.  At the time they weren’t making enough money at their job to live on their own.    We were happy to have them stay with us and excited to see them move forward in life.  It never happened.

Instead of working on their own needs, they ran from their issues.  They decided that the only thing they could endure was going out each night to hang out with friends.  They were only at the house when they needed to sleep.

My husband and I sat down with them after 3 months and laid it out there.  We asked them what their plans were and how long they thought they would be staying with us.  The answer was, “well I hope I am able to move out within a year.”  We asked how they planned on getting enough money together to move?  They had no idea.  We told them that either they had to put a plan in place to get back on their feet and pursue it, or leave.  Maybe that sounds harsh, but they were doing nothing to help themself.

This close friend of the family said something that really threw me.  They said that they couldn’t stand to spend time alone.  They felt uncomfortable unless surrounded by people.  This was why they were always out with friends.

In the end, they came up with a plan, and left our home 2 months later.  The lesson they left behind was one we saw repeated a second time by another close friend.

Friend number 2 was always in a romantic relationship.  They would end one relationship only when there was someone else in the wings ready to replace the prior person.  They had the same issue of not being able to tolerate being without someone around.

Friend number 2 has crashed and burned numerous times.  The problem has been that they have no idea who they are, and are unwilling to spend time just working on their own needs.  They look to others to make them feel happy and fulfilled.

The problem with looking to others to fulfill your happiness is that no other person can ever be everything to you.  When someone like friend number 2 doesn’t feel the complete happiness they hoped another would bring them, they become completely disillusioned and angry.  Any disappointment is more hurtful to them than your average person.  The reason is because they placed the responsibility of all of their happiness on another’s shoulders.  They didn’t understand that for real happiness to occur, you have to make the effort to make yourself happy.

I was talking with one of my children about friend number 2.  My daughter mentioned that they felt sorry to see friend number 2 so lost and depressed (they were in the middle of another relationship that was falling apart and there wasn’t anyone waiting in the wings to replace them this time).

I took the opportunity to remind my daughter why it was so important to love yourself.  People won’t always be there.  It is up to each person individually to find what makes them feel good about themselves.  Find out what hobbies you enjoy, learn what types of things interest you and above all else, pursue your dreams.  Without knowing who you really are, what makes you tick and what makes you feel good, you will end up lost, miserable and incomplete.

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Wendy McCance

Wendy McCance is a Michigan based freelance writer and social media consultant. Wendy has gained attention as the founder of the popular blog Searching for the Happiness which can be viewed in 6 local papers online, including the Oakland Press.The combination of writing skills and social media knowledge is what makes Wendy such a powerhouse to work with. Stay tuned for opportunities to advertise, guest post and as always, have your questions answered.

To contact Wendy McCance about a writing assignment, interview or speaking engagement, please email her at: [email protected]

29 thoughts on “Teaching Kids how to Create their Own Happiness

  1. Pingback: Breathe & Smile » Breathe, smile, and other simple tools to get on the road to happiness.Is Your Job Making You Miserable? » Breathe & Smile

  2. People who need to constantly be surrounded by others? Energy vampires. Sounds woo-woo, but there are indeed people who constantly need to “feed.” I’ll wager these two friends always left you feeling “drained.”

  3. Pingback: Is Your Job Making You Miserable? | Breathe and Smile

  4. Hi Wendy,

    Great article - I think this really applies throughout life. I work with teens helping them figure out what to do post-college and what you talk about here is truly an essential part of the process. For me, it is not just figuring out what classes one is good at or what friends/tv/parents think is cool, but building in the unique personality, hobbies, definition of self that the teen has. I think your article applies at any time in life — thanks!
    Crystal Kadakia

  5. Great examples! I agree that It is up to each one of us to discover what makes us feel worthy inside. It can take time and much effort, but it is possible to find out what we like about ourselves and to affirm those things.

  6. What a wonderful post!
    This should be read by everyone, not just children. I have come across many people like this in my lifetime and it saddens me that they base all or most of their happiness on another human being. When I was younger I too depended on others for my happiness but over time and with life experiences I’ve learnt to love my own company because I know that eventually people will let us down. And it’s ok, It’s human nature, no one is perfect. However, if we are happy within ourselves then nothing outside of us can really affect us. I’ve also met people like your ‘friend no.2′ who go from one relationship to another without first forging a strong loving relationship with themselves. Sadly, It always ends in disaster. I am in the midst of trying to help a couple of people experiencing these issues you write about so this post has come at the perfect time !
    P.S. I’m printing this article and sticking it on the fridge, maybe my kiddies will stop and read it on their way to grab a bite ! :)

    You’re an inspiration.
    Thanks for sharing !

  7. Pingback: Favorite posts for this Friday | livingsimplyfree

  8. This might sound old fashioned. However, my wife and I discovered that if you give a small child an empty cardboard box, big enough to get inside, they would play for hours in a world of their own. Also. Pots and pans were another enjoyment to them. Perhaps it was because we were both both born in the mid 1920′s and toy’s did not abound as they do today. We were lucky to be given the chance to learn the MAGIC of imagination when were children. Of course, every generation has it’s own variations - that is what makes the world go around

    • When my daughter was 4, she was fascinated with scotch tape. She loved it so much that she asked for scotch tape from Santa. She would spend hours creating projects with that tape. :)

  9. Excellent post. Two great lessons there and not just for your kids, for everybody, (1) don’t depend on other people to live your life for you and (2) don’t let other people cling to you and let you live their lives for them.

  10. Sadly I have known people like this. soem learned how to help themselves others not at all. It’s hard lesson to learn when you aren’t involved with your own self improvement. The good news is your kids had an opportunity to see it first hand and that will hopefully help in the future. :-)

  11. I think we all know people like this. It’s sad that they haven’t learned to enjoy their own company. In some ways I was like this. I was strong enough to enjoy my own company, or maybe I was just too uncomfortable in large crowds, but I felt I needed a man to feel complete. I am fortunate in that I learned the lesson early on to know that no one can complete me, fix me, or always be there.

    You are a wonderful friend to have taken in your friend in a moment of need, not everyone would do that with their own family to think of as well.

    • Taking in the friend turned out horribly. At the time we were in a financial pinch (my husband and I had lost our jobs when our plant closed). We didn’t ask for money from the friend while they were there. There were hurt feelings because we felt taken advantage of and the friend thought it was wrong of us to sit them down and give them an ultimatum. They ended up choosing not to continue a friendship.

      • I’m so sorry it turned out that way for you. In the end though I think your children learned valuable lessons from what you did. Compassion is lacking in so many areas of the world today, but you showed compassion in trying times and they will remember that.

        • Looking back, I’m glad we didn’t turn the friend away. They really had few options on where to go. We used to live in a 5 bedroom home. More than enough room for extra people. The 5th room was vacant and for awhile was used by my husband’s brother for 2 years while he finished college. That was a wonderful experience. So, yeah the kids have seen and learned a lot. :)

  12. Excellent post! I completely agree with you 100%. We cannot depend on someone else to provide our happiness for us. That is unfair to the other person because they should not be made to feel like they are responsible for our else’s well being/happiness. We must learn to love ourselves and find our own source of inner happiness within ourselves &/or within our Faith. (Just my opinion) :D

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