finding happiness with small children

positivepsychology_tobehappyMarch 20th was International Day of Happiness.

Happiness and I don’t always get along. Our relationship is fickle. Like any relationship, this one requires work, and I don’t always put in the time, or prioritize it, to make it successful. For most of the winter, I would say that happiness and I are in a fight. There’s some fleeting forgiveness around the holidays, but then the bleakness of January and February scare the love away.

Springtime, as the bulbs start popping through the soil, our relationship recovers, at times. But then, the baby starts crying and it’s only 10:00 pm and that is definitely NOT sleeping through the night and why ever could she be crying and if she’s not poopy then she couldn’t possibly be hungry after only two hours and maybe she’ll stop in a minute or two but who am I kidding she never does that so should I go in and try the binkie that she just chews on and won’t suck on so it never soothes her and I just feel. So. Tired.

Happiness and I don’t always get along with small children in the picture. There are the tantrums. There are the sleepless nights. Poopy diapers. Teething. Scraped knees. Goose eggs. No more naps. Potty accidents. Disobedience. Tiredness. Crankiness.

And yet, my memories don’t cling to the above list. My memories cling to Dom’s first words: mama, dada, tape, and hola. To holding Dom on the couch in the middle of the night so he could sleep sitting up with his pneumonia. To Gabbi reaching for my face while she’s nursing. To Dom earning DumDums the first times he used the potty. To Gabbi laughing at her brother making faces in the car. To Dom cheering and running to the door when Nathan comes home from work.

In spite of my propensity towards anxiety and pessimism, I try so hard to improve my relationship with happiness. Sometimes the trying comes in researching it. I read and listen to books about improving myself, being open to vulnerability, how to improve my marriage, ways to parent better, increasing my emotional intelligence, and how to be happier.

Have you heard of Shawn Achor? He’s an expert on happiness, Harvard trained and what not. I like his stuff. I recently grabbed one of his books I wasn’t familiar with, Before Happiness: The 5 Hidden Keys to Achieving Success, Spreading Happiness, and Sustaining Positive Change , and just wanted to share a few of the great quotes I’ve highlighted while reading the book (which I’m still reading).

While the human brain receives eleven million pieces of information every second from our environment, it can process only forty bits per second, which means it has to choose what tiny percentage of this input to process… thus your reality is a choice…

This is a choice that my subconscious is making, right?

Your IQ teaches you what you need to do, emotional intelligence shows how, and social intelligence illuminates with whom… you need to [construct] a positive reality first.

If I can even pretend to be an optimist, then my kids will learn to do this, too, right?

…our ability to see positive details can indeed be heavily impaired by fatigue.

And hunger!

Turns out, being optimistic is so hard with little kids because SLEEP, and eating. I think of the times when I finally open the fridge for my own food after one child is in quiet time and the other is napping. Or, I finish up the cold mac & cheese left on the table. Mmm, nutrients.

The harder your brain has to stretch and work to scan the world for multiple realities, the greater your creativity, your problem-solving ability, and even your empathy for those who do not see the world as you do.

Here’s a serious question for you on this one. We have moved to an area with good schools, great neighbors, and a family-oriented culture. BUT, there’s not much in terms of DIFFERENT cultures around. So how do I expose my kids to it when it’s not at home, school, or church?

By the way, Dom learned to say tape early on because we were boxing up the contents of our condo in an attempt to make the 900 square feet look open, enticing, and something that somebody else would want to buy and live in. The tape gun scared Dom, though, so I would warn him before I taped another box: “I’m using the tape, Dom. Tape!”


  1. Although, not in your immediate neighborhood, Utah has a ton of cultures represented in it and you can often find cultural festivals or events around, but you do have to seek them out. Or Travel! We plan to give less gifts of things to our kid/s and gift more “experiences”. Just a thought


  2. Good stuff here Larrie! Love you and your talent with words. Our little souls we care for – keep us close to heaven.

    Your big smiles big brother.


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