Csikszentmihalyi’s very scientific article Happiness in Everyday Life was totally eye-opening for me. Every parent should read this piece. Who knew the Experience Sampling Method (ESM) could be so inspiring and useful. Following his research and recommendations, it might just be possible for me to chase – and achieve – my teenage daughter’s happiness. How awesome!
I’ll make sure we maintain a working class lifestyle, be sure she doesn’t read for pleasure and spends most of her time with her friends or doing homework. I’ll help safeguard her self esteem to ensure that she feels good about herself, proud, excited and active! I’ll be prepared for her happiness levels to tank at age 16, and thank my lucky stars that she inherited the trait of extroversion from me – after all, this trait is at least partly determined genetically – and has been linked to happiness.
I won’t worry about my income as much because of Csikszentmihalyi’s suggestion at the end of his study that “material well-being is in fact an obstacle to happiness”. Being a graduate student and single mother, I have modeled how to build “psychological capital” by studying all the time and working towards more freedom that should result from all the hard work put in now. Following Csikszentmihalyi’s recommendations, I will give her freedom to express herself, and spend a lot of time with her friends (when she’s not doing homework).
I can’t tell you what relief I feel after reading this research. I feel happier already! Particularly because a miserable teenager has a high positive correlation with a miserable mother. I’m only half joking about all this. I think I’ll try this experiment, however, and report back to Csikszentmihalyi on my own personal findings with a sample of one and see what he makes of it. It makes me happy to have a road map of sorts – finally!