3 Essential Truths Taught by my 7-Year Old Happiness Guru


“Wisdom is usually deepened with age. But not always. Some older people have not acquired much of it. And sometimes much younger people have acquired a depth of wisdom far beyond their age.” ~KW

My favorite Life Coach, Zen Master and Guru of Happiness has never written a book, never meditated atop a snow capped mountain and has never spoken to an audience gathered at his feet to absorb his wisdom.

That’s because he is only seven. His name is Jacob. And he’s my son.

It’s not that he’s a child prodigy in spouting off quotable homilies and insightfully delving into the complexities of the human condition, unveiling new secrets to the old quest for a happier life. It’s just that I’ve learned so much from his direct second-grade philosophy that I think is worth sharing.

Here’s what I mean …

3 Lessons My 7-Year Old Taught me in 2013 that will Make 2014 a Happier Year

1. Not everything parents get upset about are worthy of getting upset about

Jacob has a way with words. He’s direct and outspoken and if he feels he has been wronged, he’s not shy about expressing it. So sometimes when I’ve come down on him for some misdeed, he has stood his ground and challenged me on the justice of the punishment to the crime.

“You’re getting me in trouble for no reason!” he’s said more than a few times. And you know what? Sometimes he’s right and I’ve had to rethink and readjust my response. I’ve gotten fairly quick at it too: Something happens. I react. He questions. I recognize my error (usually a lack of information or too quick to judge motive and intent), apologize and course correct, allowing life to go gently and merrily down the stream.

Rigidity has never been good (in parenting, politics, business or life). Stiff, inflexible people break easily. They snap and fall apart … and they raise resentful children.

2. Get it all out!

Jacob is a tough little dude. He regularly gets knocked off his feet at soccer games only to jump back up and charge right back into the fray. But every now and then (usually in the safety of his own home), the little guy explodes in a weeping meltdown over some frustration or bump to the forehead. It lasts quite a while (in kid time, anyway). But once his sob reaches bottom, he abruptly stops, sniffs once or twice and jumps down to go play again as though nothing happened.

Sometimes we tend to keep things locked up inside too until it explodes into the open. Jacob has taught me that it doesn’t do any good to keep things bottled up like that.

Life is supposed to be lived on the outside. Thoughts and opinions are meant to be expressed. Ideas should be free to rise or fall of their own weight. Dreams were meant to grow roots and branch out and enrich lives. Our feelings also help us identify problems we need to be aware of, like flare guns sending us warning signals that something needs to be addressed.

Thoughts, opinions, goals, aspirations, dreams, hopes, and emotions should be given the chance to see the light of day, not get shoved under covers, swept under carpets, ignored behind closed doors or buried inside hardened hearts.

3. It’s okay to hate peas

My son is not a pea-eater. I am. I love the little roly packages of jolly green goodness! We’ve tried and tried and failed and failed to introduce the things into his diet.

But you know what? I hate mushrooms. I don’t eat them. Period. Why not? Because they are rubbery sponge-like fungi that grow in dark and dank places and taste a little too much like the dirt they grow in (sorry mushroom lovers of the world!).

And that’s okay! I will live a perfectly normal and beautiful mushroom-free existence. I have so far, anyway. And so will Jacob without peas.

Life’s Gag Reflex

The gag reflex helps keep us safe from noxious and toxic foods (like peas and mushrooms?), expelling what shouldn’t be inside of us. Life also has its own set of gag reflexes called discernment, priority, passion and preference that help expel useless, time-wasters from our lives, limiting distraction to keep us focused on making our goals and dreams come to life.

What are the distractions on your plate that prevent you from enjoying your food or reaching your goals?

The problem is that when we get too distracted doing too many different things, never focusing on our favorite “foods” in life, we never acquire enough expertise on one to take it very far down the road. A Jack-of-all-trades is a well-rounded mediocrity; fair-to-decent at most things, great at nothing.  So go find the key that impassions you most and pound that thing until it starts blending with the rest of life to make beautiful music.

Final Thoughts

Happiness is the great quest. We all want more of it. And life is full of little lessons that shed light on the road we so often travel in dim circumstances is search of it. So when we can get some solid insight and inspiration on traveling the road with fewer bruised shins and twisted ankles, it’s a good thing. My son has been that for me and I hope to be that for you.

What life lessons have your little ones taught you?

Come back next week for 3 more life lessons taught by my 7-year old happiness guru!

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