Last week when my four children woke up in excitement for the first day of school (well, most of them woke up that way), I found myself thinking about my greatest wish for them.
I mean, seriously. What do most parents want most for their kids? Happiness, no?
But, as I watched them walk out the door and up to the bus stop, I contemplated this thought.
Is happiness the thing I want most for my kids?
Of all the things they can learn in this world, of all the things I would want to bless them with, would happiness be the top thing on my list?
And after a few moments, I answered in the negative.
No, happiness is not the thing I would want most for them.
But, being equipped with life tools would be:
Tools to learn how to be healthy in mind, body and spirit.
Tools to learn how to believe in themselves and trust “the sky’s the limit”.
Tools to learn how to express themselves, both in speech and writing, without fear and with confidence.
Tools to become self-sufficient: knowing how to plant a garden, cook a basic meal, and clean their clothes.
Tools to remember that money does not grow on trees and that money isn’t always the measure of success.
Tools to know when enough is enough.
Tools to know how to lead, but to remember that leading isn’t everything.
Tools to know right from wrong and where to access that code of moral behavior.
Tools to know they are free to make their own decisions, but consequences come with every choice they make.
Tools to know how to give love, receive love, and love one’s self.
Tools to remember we are all created in God’s image and to be comfortable walking into a House of Prayer.
“Is happiness the thing I want most for my kids?”
Tools to find purpose in every waking hour and to understand that life is a gift.
Tools to learn to witness and appreciate everyday miracles.
Tools to live a life of joyful devotion.
Tools to know where to look for inspiration, and to know that they can also be a light to others.
Tools to learn how to be a loyal, compassionate, empathic, and trustworthy friend – and to treat others as they would wish to be treated.
Tools to learn how to guard their tongues.
Tools to know how to honor and respect, both themselves and others.
Tools to learn how to protect themselves from strangers, but also to remember we were all once strangers in a foreign land.
Tools to make History interesting to learn so they can prepare for their future.
Tools to remember that everything that lives will ultimately die.
Tools to know how to mourn.
Tools to know how to go out on an adventure safely, but always to remember from where they came.
Tools to know, as challenging as family can be, there is nothing like family and living in community.
Tools to learn how to live passionate lives without getting too attached to their passions.
Tools to trust that peace is possible.
Tools to learn how to be optimistic, but to remember that feelings typically trump reason.
Tools to learn how to take responsibility.
“Of all the things they can learn in this world, of all the things I would want to bless them with, would happiness be the top thing on my list?”
Tools to learn, in this fast-paced, hi-technological world, the importance of stopping and taking pause on a regular basis.
Tools to learn to be curious with one’s self and to remember that not all thoughts that arise in one’s mind are always true.
Tools to know they can always choose another perspective.
Tools to learn how to apologize, without feeling defeated.
Tools to be grateful and compassionate to others, and grateful and compassionate to themselves.
Tools to learn how to forgive, without feeling the need to condone.
Tools to know that getting stuck is inevitable, but suffering is a choice.
Tools to learn to access their inner wisdom to achieve emotional well-being.
And tools to know how to pass all of this along to the next generation.
OK, fair enough. I didn’t name one thing. I named many.
Yet, when I look at my four children and witness the passage of time, it’s not happiness that I’m aiming for as a parent.
In fact, interestingly enough, happiness didn’t even make the list.