What If My Entire Thesis About Joy Was Wrong?

For those who have read my blog since January when I first instituted “The Year of Living Joyfully”, you may have noticed that I have moved away from writing explicitly about seeking Joy. I am reading a couple of books about Happiness, given to me by Stumbling Gracefully. But I really have gravitated towards writing, creating “The Pomegranate Society” and finishing my mystery. Writing: the very occupation which I have resisted pursuing from a young age.

“The Year of Living Joyfully” came from my effort to snap out of a depression caused by a domino effect of tragic events, quite frankly. Back then, I thought there was some magical formula for being happy. What I am gathering from Buddhist monks, Deepak Chopra, Leo Tolstoy is the following: maybe focusing on Joy is the wrong move.

Then, this article, which is food for thought whether you are a parent, thinking about the parent you want to be or reflecting on your own parents’ style. My parents were very supportive and reassuring, and sheltered me from harm as much as they could. They intervened with teachers who graded me too harshly and also stood up to the Vice Principal the time I was suspected of telling the captain of our cheer squad that she was being a b****. (It was my friend who said it, actually, and I didn’t want to rat her out.) I had the seventh grade experience of being “Shunned”. That was about it. My childhood was mercifully blessed. Or maybe that wasn’t so merciful.

There appears to be a backlash on the current style of parenting: child-centric with a focus on boosting self-esteem. People in their 20s and 30s are feeling anxious and depressed, even though they had happy childhoods and good relationships with their parents.

I mean, jeez. How in the world are people supposed to EVER be happy if even the parenting style MOST focused on producing happy children fails?

Here is a possible answer, from The Atlantic: Maybe we shouldn’t be focused on being happy. “…research shows that much better predictors of life fulfillment and success are perseverance, resiliency, and reality-testing—qualities that people need so they can navigate the day-to-day.”

Do we really live in a world where the Stoics were right?



Filed under Discovering joy, writing

4 responses to “What If My Entire Thesis About Joy Was Wrong?

  1. I don’t know how I missed this … but yes, the problem with the kids I saw as college students was that they were so praised that they never had to face, or deal with, reality, which sometimes just plain sucks. I don’t think it’s wrong to seek joy. I just think we can’t define it as a life free from pain or disappointment.

  2. Fascinating article – really thought provoking. Thanks!

  3. Pingback: Working Mama Mondays: Do we want too much? « Stumbling Gracefully

  4. connie

    Unfortunately, I see my two kids all over that article. Talking about hitting home. I guess the old adage, “their mama screwed them up” is true only in ways we never imagined. If you had asked me at the time, I would have said “yes, I’m doing everything right.” While we didn’t give them the elitist education/lifestyle mentioned here, looking back, (you know hindsight being 20/20 and all) I can see where I did too much for them, tried to make their life easy, and mostly wanted to make them feel better than I did when I was growing up. Yes, like the article says, I projected my needs onto their childhood. Yes, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. I just wish I could find the “do-over” button.

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