TimothyTiah.com

What my 5 year old son just taught me about true happiness

I was taking a morning walk with Fighter this morning when I turned to ask him:

Me: Fighter… are you happy with your life? Like are you happy every day?

Fighter: Yes.

Me: Are you ever sad?

Fighter: No.

Moments passed as we took a few more steps and then Fighter turned to ask
“Daddy… why are people not happy with their lives?”.

It struck me then that this was a foreign concept to my 5 year old son. That people could be unhappy with their lives when every day is awesome for him. As I thought deeper, it hit me that the lives we live as adults are incredibly stressful. We live in a world where we’re told that nothing is good enough, that we have to always strive harder. Get better results, more pay, more money, more recognition, more everything.

At the same time we’re surrounded by a small group of people who support us but by a bigger group of people out there who compete to best us at work or people who try to bring us down in life for whatever many reasons of their own.  We’re also told that we’re unique, but to conform. Try to be too different and people call you “weird”. Try to fit in with everyone and we’re not standing out in life.

How did we come to live a life like that? It’s as if modern life was designed to make us unhappy. But we weren’t always like that. As 5 year olds we were probably as happy as my son is. What’s the secret to happiness that our children have?

I was talking to my sister when she pointed out one thing. She said that the thing about our kids is that they don’t worry about the past, nor the future. They just live in the present. So when they’re happy, they’re happy. Nothing gets in the way of their happiness.

Ever felt that you were enjoying yourself on a holiday only to have the moment destroyed by thoughts of worries of the backlog work you’d have to go back to when you get back to the office. Or get a good bonus only to think that you’d have even more money if you didn’t lose money on that one investment you made some months ago. We’re constantly living our present, in the context of our past and our futures.

Why can’t we be more like our kids? Worse…. at what point do our children lose the ability to live in the present as they do now? Can we protect them for that or is that an inevitable future?

My sister ended up with a quote she said she got from a TV show but when I googled I couldn’t find the exact quote.

She said “True happiness is when we can live in the present without recollection of the past or fear of the future”.

If that’s what true happiness is… then it’s not something that can be bought. How do we get there?

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How do we become as happy as my 5 year old son?


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