Sunday, September 6, 2009

Don't Worry, Be Happy

I woke this morning with the song "Don't Worry, Be Happy" in my head. I'm not sure if that's good or bad, but I started thinking about happiness. I believe we are happiest when we are doing something we enjoy, when we follow our passion.

The problem is that so many people don't have a passion; they don't know what their passion is. I also believe that in order to find that passion, we must have lots of different experiences. If a child never experiences dancing, how will they ever know if they're passionate about it?

I believe that parents and teachers should help provide all kinds of experiences for their children. There should be dance and art and singing. There should be baseball and hockey and soccer and tennis. There should be math and science and Spanish and history. There should be trips to museums and parks and lakes and libraries. Children should join Little League and Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts and chess club. They may find they hate art, but love to sing. They may hate Little League, but love chess club. Only by experiencing things, do children learn what they love to do.

And this shouldn't always be what parents or teachers want them to do. I had a student in class that at an early age decided he liked ice hockey. There were no ice hockey teams in town and I can only imagine what would have happened had someone dashed his dreams by saying, "Sorry, but there are no teams here. We don't even have an ice skating rink." Instead, his parents found that there was a team about 70 miles away. They took him there and he made the team. He loved it. It was his passion clear through high school and probably still is.

It seems to me that so many parents are not around for their children. The children are left to fend for themselves. They get their own meals, choose what they want to watch on TV, choose when and if they'll do their homework, and are left unsupervised. These children lack positive experiences in their lives and instead, many times, end up in trouble with the law or with drugs. When this happens, the chances for them to have positive experiences almost disappear. They never realize their full potential or find their passion.

Of course, the best outcome for finding your passion is to have it become your lifelong calling. If your job involves your passion, life is usually good and people are usually happy. Children who find something they're passionate about, and who have parents, teachers, and counselors who can guide them into a similar career path, will, I believe, be the happiest people.

So sing and dance, play chess, visit a museum, and don't worry, you'll be happy.

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