One of the most standard conventions of parenthood is to say that the only thing that matters is if their child is happy. “I just want my child to be happy.” I get that sentiment. I’m not a parent, but I, too, would like my future kids to be happy. But, I also think this puts an unfair standard onto a child, teaching them that the only important thing is to be happy and if you’re not happy, you’re apparently not okay or even doing life “correctly.” I know that, in the past, I have felt ashamed of times when I haven’t been able to make myself happy, feeling like that was the only task that matters. As long as I’m happy, everyone else will be happy, right?
Well, I started to think about what I would like my future kids to be or know, without even thinking about happiness. These are the things I’d wish for my future kids (along with being happy, of course):
1. Learn how to think for yourself, learn to take the opinions of others into consideration, allow yourself to change your mind based on new information, and respect that others may not agree with you and vice versa.
2. Define what joy and success and love means to you, but more importantly, what it looks like to you. I hope you can understand that your version of success may be different from the world’s version of success and that you can be free to pursue your version, and I hope you are brave enough to do so.
3. Keep the intention in your heart that life is worth savoring and living and that the more love you add, the more at peace you’ll be.
4. Love openly and wildly because coming back from the depths of heartbreak will make you powerful in a way that nothing else compares to.
5. Expand your heart to contain more love and smile at strangers and know that the most important thing you can do for a person is make them feel like they matter.
6. Don’t cave in from pain and disappointment and loss because these experiences will show you who you really are and will unveil more of who you think you are than any long stint of happiness you may have.
7. Leave someone’s heart in a better condition than it was before you met, then you will have loved and loved truly.
8. Your softness, gentleness, sensitivity, and empathy should never be tamed or pushed down or hidden. Hardening against the world will be easy, but it will break you.
9. Have respect, kindness, compassion, and care for yourself above all, then watch as that same respect, kindness, compassion, and care gets radiated onto everyone you come into contact with.
10. Have the courage to change directions, pick up and leave, take a new path, quit, start up again, reinvent, change, grow. It’s never too late to begin again.
11. Remember that love is not just romantic love, that, even if you’re single, love is around you and you are loved and that you have love to give. Remember that whatever you lack, you can give, so if you lack love, give love; if you lack inspiration, be inspiring.
12. But, above all else, and maybe more importantly than anything else: Get into some trouble, sow your wild oats, laugh out loud, and have as much fun as you possibly can in the time you have here.