If we interviewed 100 happy people, I think the most prominent common denominator would be good relationships. Despite the widespread promotion of materialism and vanity in our culture, wealth and beauty are not enough to produce happiness. In fact, they’re not even necessary. What’s more, bad relationships — at work, at home, or among friends — are a surefire source of anguish and heartache.
For most of us, the connections that most strongly influence our level of happiness are family bonds. And the most powerful of all are at the inner core of family, especially parent-child relationships.
No matter what your age, your kinship with your parents will always have a unique capacity to generate comfort or pain. Many children have ambivalent feelings about their folks. Yet most crave their approval, respect, and love. Parents have a similar need.
If you’re a parent, resolve to make more consistent and conscientious efforts to make your children feel appreciated. If you want to make their lives and yours happier, be careful not to demean or diminish their achievements, and avoid expressions of disappointment. Tell your child you’re proud to have him or her as a son or daughter.
And if you still can, give your parents pleasure by showing them you love them, not only for what they did for you as a child but for who they are now. Talk to them frequently and talk of meaningful things. Ask their advice, and don’t roll your eyes in disdain if you disagree with it. One of the best ways to express your love is through respect.
This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.