Where does your happiness come from? From a job well done? From a deep connection with another person? Most of us like to see a task completed. And pretty much all people feel joy when they bond deeply with another person. It is that deep bond which unites family members through all the hard times.
Completing tasks and establishing lasting connections with people are both satisfying and important, but one of these two joyful moments is clearly more important than the other. A strong, unified relationship is more valuable than any thing or task completed.
In fact, relationships are really the reason we are alive. If we existed alone, life would have no meaning. But, because of relationships life has meaning and purpose. Because of relationships we are able to look outside of ourselves and cultivate character, love, sorrow, service and selflessness.
The Yard Work Destroyer
Dad comes home from work, and announces that everyone needs to get outside to do yard work. Even though the assignment is unexpected, the family joins the activity. They are having fun. Dad starts to think that the children are being too silly and aren't dedicated enough to the project, so he starts micro managing the family. His voice becomes stern and he doesn't seek to understand the needs of each person. The family work project soon becomes a family drudgery.
Dad, had expectations when he came home. He wanted to get a certain amount of work done in order to be happy. He based his happiness upon the completion of the task. The expectation probably started with a dream of how Dad would have fun with the children after the project satisfied his expectations. But, after everyone didn't perform to his satisfaction, Dad lost sight of the fun goal and forced the task to completion.
As soon as Dad started micro managing the family a wall was created. He was not looking at the family in the eyes anymore. This meant he didn't see the hearts or goodness of anyone else. Everyone in the family felt the wall and avoided Dad. In fact, they started murmuring about Dad in their minds, and couldn't wait to be physically detached from him. The emotional and spiritual detachment had already occurred in the yard.
Not too long after this situation Dad finds himself wondering why no one appreciates him when he works so hard for the family. He feels a wedge in the family. And has no idea where it came from. The closeness at home is destroyed, and the family needs time to recover to the point of wanting to have relationships again. For some people, this takes minutes. For others, the forgiveness and unification process takes days. No task is worth this.
The Yard Work Cure
It could be very easy to think that having the children work is the real villain in this story. That assumption is wrong. Work is the antidote for a sick character, and one of the building blocks for a strong character. It is essential for children to learn to work, and working alongside parents is the most natural and enjoyable way to experience this character development.
The problem in this story is the importance the task is given. Dad's expectations for the completion of the task created an imbalance in his thinking. Soon, he forgot he was working with people and creating adults and character. Instead, he thought only about getting the task done so that he could experience the happiness which comes from completing a task.
Dad could have made a few simple adjustments to this situation, to create an opposite outcome.
Share your vision
Before beginning the project, Dad could have given the family a vision of what the family time was going to be like by explaining how much he wanted to spend time working together and talking together as a family.
Look for connection
Dad could have looked into the eyes of his family members so that he could feel their hearts and know their needs and level of connection or disconnection.
Focus on bonding
Dad could have focused more on making a memorable moment with his family and teaching his children instead of being as productive as possible. His focus was efficiency. He should focus instead on being effective in his role. The bonding that can happen while working together with a child is priceless.
Think about others feelings
He could have thought less of himself and his project, and thought more of the other people around him. Emotionally attaching to any task or thing is never a good idea.
Where does happiness come from? Happiness is a choice. To be more specific, happiness is actually a series of choices. When we constantly choose to be positive we are happy. When we choose to value people instead of things or tasks, we are happy. When we choose to understand and accept, instead of judge and control we are happy. Happiness is inside all of us. The problem is we get distracted with all the things on the to do list and forget to find it in there. A few small changes in perspective can create a lifetime of happiness.