“Happiness is a habit – cultivate it.”
Parenthood is a lifelong journey that demands the best from you. You wonder, “How do I stay on track and go the distance, especially during the challenging times?” Discovering the 3As of what truly happy parents practice is a crucial step, otherwise the constant façade of happiness you put on for the sake of your family will eventually burn you out!
Although you cannot eliminate all the setbacks in your life, it is how you choose to respond to them that will make the difference. The following are three practical tips – Accept, Affirm, Align (3As) – that can help you be the kind of happy parent who is well equipped to raise happy children.
Happy Parent of Happy Child Tip #1: Accept your brain’s chemistry
According to Professor Loretta G. Breuning, Ph.D., there are four neurochemicals that regulate our feelings of happiness. Endorphin is the body’s natural morphine which grants us temporary euphoria to withstand pain when we get injured lest we have to make a quick dash from danger; dopamine keeps us high in view of a perceived reward; oxytocin triggers feelings of closeness when we bond with others physically or emotionally; and serotonin gives us a boost when we are made to feel important.
Our neurochemical levels fluctuate as the situations around us change; for example, dopamine dips when one’s goal is achieved. Since the neurochemical drop dampens our feelings, we may imagine that a problem exists and unwittingly adopt a negative outlook. But if we understand that it is just how the balance of our neurochemicals works, we can assure ourselves, “Relax, it’s the chemicals; it’s not me!”
Happy Parent of Happy Child Tip #2: Affirm yourself
We tend to be our own worst critic. In our earnest bid for self-improvement, we may go overboard berating ourselves for our failures. Unfortunately, if you put yourself down often enough, you will end up with so much negative energy that it spills over to others despite your best efforts to keep it under wraps. Your precious children are innocent parties that do not deserve your pent-up negativity.
To be a happier parent, do yourself a favor: Forgive yourself more. Speak affirmative words to the person you see in the mirror every day. If you don’t treat yourself well, who will? After all, it does not cost you anything to do so – no hired coach, no professional motivator needed.
Happy Parent of Happy Child Tip #3: Align your expectations
Studies in consumer behavior have shown that once a customer is happy with a certain product or service, it will take more to please the customer the next time because the level of expectation has been raised. Likewise, you might have discovered something that makes you feel happy. But can you derive the same level of joy through that same source day after day?
To counter the happiness paradox – i.e. the happier you are, the harder it is to make you happy the next time – bestselling author and psychologist Harry Beckwith, J.D., recommends this: don’t lower your expectations but don’t raise the bar either. In other words, align your expectations in a realistic manner so that you don’t create impossible goals and cause frustration instead.
Well, it seems as if being happy comes with a caveat! Nevertheless that is a small price to pay compared with the boundless possibilities that happiness can offer you and your loved ones.
The aforementioned tips are by no means exhaustive. However, the 3As – Accept, Affirm, Align – are a good starting point in your endeavor to become a happy parent more consistently. Remember, the objective of being a happy parent is to be able to raise happy children who can reach their full potential in life.