It is essential that we give our kids space to try a wide range of things and learn through their failures. They don’t have to be awesome at everything. In fact, learning to deal with being mediocre or not so good at something, is going to serve them so much more in the long run. Never failing at anything doesn’t allow for our kids to learn the necessary skills to lead a fulfilling life. Life is going to be challenging. It’s how we respond to these challenges that determines our level of satisfaction with life.
In an excellent essay recently posted on her Facebook page, Elizabeth Gilbert describes that there are two types of happiness. Innocent happiness vs. weathered happiness and how to tell the difference:
“Innocent happiness is the sunshine happiness that comes (usually in youth) when nothing bad has ever happened to you. This is the easiest happiness there is. It’s the gift of not knowing better. It’s sweet and naïve and blessed. It’s lovely and sugary…and guaranteed — eventually the world will beat it out of you.
After that, you have a choice. You can turn bitter, or you can embrace what I call “weathered happiness.” There is nothing naïve about weathered happiness. It is fought for. (It is often even fought AGAINST.)
Here is how you earn weathered happiness — by fighting for the light, even when all signs points to darkness. You dig through your history with tweezers and you pull up every single scrap of evidence of goodness that has ever happened to you, and build a lifeboat for yourself out of that goodness.”
At a certain point, we all come to a point of choosing to be happy or not. If you are of an age that you have children, chances are, you’ve lived through some stuff. Of course there are the joys like marriage, career achievements and starting a family, but also there is loss and struggle. Looking back, I can honestly say, the losses and struggle have made me stronger and more resilient. They have honed my empathy and made me try harder at everything I do. They brought me closer to knowing we are all more alike than we are different and that asking for help is not only okay, but necessary. Ultimately, I learned that I have all I need inside of me to get through anything.
As hard as it is to imagine, it is quite possible that letting my kids know heartbreak and failure firsthand could be the best gift of resilient success I could ever give them. The question is, do I have the courage to let them?
Written by Diana DeVaul, MSW and Parent
I highly recommend ‘liking’ Elizabeth Gilbert’s FB page. She is encouraging, compassionate and thoughtful. To learn more, go directly to her website elizabethgilbert.com