We talked recently about the fleetingness of happiness. The way that happiness changes and evolves, the way that it tends to ensue rather than exist as something to pursue. A happy family is not one where everyone is happy all the time, Ursula Le Quin said. No, it’s closer to something we cycle through.
But as it happens, the Stoics did believe there was a way to seize happiness quite readily. It is something we busy parents ought to do ourselves, and also teach our children. “True happiness,” Seneca said, “is to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future.” No parent is happy when they worry, when they stress, when they focus on what may or may not happen down the road.
Happiness only exists in the present moment. It only exists in the here and now. We work so hard as parents to plan quality time–big trips, important educational experiences–but too often this comes at the expense of what is here in front of us right now. Or we focus on expressive gestures, statements of our affection…instead of just actually being together.
If you want to be happy, just be. If you want to be a happy family, just be together. It’s that simple. It’s that attainable. It’s that wonderful. The trick is holding onto it, because just as you seem to get the hang of it, you get distracted and the feeling escapes you.
But you don’t have to worry. Because the present moment is a chance to be happy once again.
Thank you to everyone who contributed to the GiveDirectly fundraiser last year to raise money for families in poverty! Between Daily Dad and Daily Stoic readers, we were able to raise $32,316 for families living in the Giterama village in Rwanda.
Marcus said the fruit of this life were those acts, the kind we do for the common good: being unselfish, caring for your fellow humans, embracing your good fortune only as a means to lighten the difficulties for those less fortunate. Marcus would be proud.
To see more details on our fundraising results, or to donate to families in need, visit givedirectly.org/stoic.