There are few events or accomplishments in a man’s life that trump the pride and joy he feels when his child tackles him as he walks through the door, takes his face between their little chubby hands, and squeals, “I love you, Daddy!” That alone can make for a happy father.
I think Gary Allen said it best when he sang, “…When tough little boys grow up to be Dads, they turn into big babies again.” There is no holding back the tears of happiness when those three magic words are coupled with the word “Daddy.”
Those spurts of euphoric joy are often intertwined with the monotony of dull, daily tasks, and loud noises, tantrums and whining. Sometimes we look and feel like a hero, while other times it feels like we fit the villain role better. But, true happiness is not dependent upon the circumstances that surround us. True happiness is based on healthy patterns of attitude and action within us. The following are some tried and true patterns of lasting happiness and joy fro dads.
- Choose happiness
A positive attitude is not just some new age mantra. The simple choice to be happy paves the way for good things to happen. Psychologists have theorized about the idea of “self-fulfilling prophecy” for years. Whether you think “my day is going to be great” or “this is going to be the worst day of my life,” you are probably right.
Sit down a think what is most important to you. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen R. Covey, encourages people to break responsibilities into four quadrants: one, important but not urgent; two, important and urgent; three, urgent but not important; and four, neither urgent nor important. As fathers, many things battle for our attention each day. It is worth our time and energy to decide what is most important to us and pay appropriate attention to those things.
- Make time
Quality time with our spouse and/or our children is important, but just time in general is also very important. Don’t wait for the big family vacation to make time for your families. Time spent together doing everyday things (such as doing dishes, sweeping a floor, playing a game, reading, or just talking) can be some of the most enjoyable and strongest relationship building exercises we can perform.
- Work hard
Have goals at work and at home. Challenge yourself with measurable and attainable goals. Put out your best effort. The things that we do that we never thought we could do seem to give us the greatest feeling of achievement.
- Play hard
Some of you may remember Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, a children’s television series. Rogers always changed his shoes and sweater when he got home. Changing gears and entering a more playful, relaxed attitude can help to make interactions at home more pleasant and can encourage happiness from your kids and spouse. Know what you like and do it.
- Be consistent
An emotion that often feels like unhappiness is confusion. This goes for parents as well as for children. When the general atmosphere of a home is consistently positive and the discipline is predictable, parents are perceived as “good guys,” even when teaching hard lessons. The less uncertainty and confusion, the more happiness your family will experience.
As you implement these patterns of happiness, they have the ability to purge out the evil villain and strengthen the hero in us all. When this happens, happiness becomes a constant rather than an exception.
Question: What are some of your favorite patterns of happiness in your life?
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