Teach Them This To Give Them That

We want happy kids, obviously. But as we talked about recently, you can’t make your kids happy. Certainly, you can’t always keep them happy.

So what do you do?

There’s a great exchange between Epictetus (we recommend his Discourses) and one of his students. The student is asking Epictetus to show him what to do so ​he can be wise​ and successful. This is the wrong request, Epictetus says. It would be better to ask how to be adaptable to circumstances.

In a sense, this is also the secret to happiness, and it’s what we have to show our kids. We can’t give them happiness–we can’t even give them step-by-step instructions for achieving happiness. But we can show them ​how to be resilient​, ​how to manage frustration​, ​how to do hard things​, ​how to focus on process vs outcomes​, ​teach them to try to be useful​, ​to be empathetic​, and ​how to love​. And then, with these tools, they will be able to experience happiness.

They won’t be happy all the time—because that’s impossible—but they will be set up better than most people.

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