Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Hector and the Search for Happiness

We all want our children to be happy. Francois Lelord, a leading French psychiatrist is now the foremost happiness guru, thanks to the success of his book "Hector and the Search for Happiness". I haven't read the book yet but there's an interesting interview over at the Times where he talks about happiness and how to achieve it. Here's an excerpt where he mentions children:

“Some people are gifted for happiness, you can see it even in babies. But your upbringing, life events and education are influences, too. It is like being good at maths, music or sport — you are born with happiness abilities but after that your family has to encourage it; you need to practise it.”

So it’s all your parents’ fault if you don’t reach your happiness potential? “It’s not about trying to do everything to ensure that your child is happy. It’s much more important to teach your child how to be happy even in adverse circumstances. This isn’t about buying children computers, clothes or holidays but about showing them how to make the best of it, how to manage to be happy.”

But in the West parents are convinced that their children will be happy only if they are at the top of their class. “It’s not just the West. In Asia, too, parents push their children very hard. After 40 years of seeing clients I must stress that you shouldn’t have unrealistic expectations of your child — think of their positive psychology, not yours. It’s more important for them to learn how to adapt to situations, how to relate to people and take responsibility for their lives, than how to pass their maths exam."

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