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The Secret to Happiness

by | Jul 5, 2017 | Children, Family, Parenting | 0 comments

The Secret to Happiness

I feel a tug on the bottom of my sweater and look up from my work at the computer to see my two-year-old. “Apple Blessing, Mom” she says. I can’t even count the number of times I have heard these words in the last month. She asks me to sing this song, one that I also learned when I was her age, at least 100 times per day. I know that she will ask until I sing it.“Oh, the Lord is good to me, and so I thank the Lord, for giving me the things I need like the sun, and the rain, and the apple seed. The Lord is good to me.” Sometimes for variety, instead of the final “me” I say all of our names.

In fact, I say the Johnny Appleseed Blessing so often it has become like a mantra. Around day 20 of singing the song about 55 times per day, I realized something. I was singing the song for my daughter, but it was me who needed to hear the words.

I think we get so used to our surroundings and the blessings that we do have, that we no longer notice them. Have you ever gotten into a hot tub in the middle of winter? At first, you dip your toe in and the glorious heat is such a shock but once your whole body is submerged, a dull warmth remains, but it is nothing like the original jolt. You get used to it. I think we operate like this in life.

When something good (or bad) happens, our happiness (or sadness) spikes for a short period of time, but then quickly we return to our normal baseline state. This coping mechanism is useful when it keeps us from being overwhelmed by sadness for too long, but too often it keeps us from being surrounded by happiness as well. We are programmed to normalize.

When we return to this “normal” state, we often seek out new possessions or want more, craving the initial spike of happiness they bring. We fail to notice what we already have and spend time thinking instead about what we lack. We look around at others and compare our insides (how we feel about ourselves) to their outsides (how they look to us). This has become even easier with social media. We forget that we are intimately familiar with our lives and just seeing a snapshot of theirs.

We convince ourselves that we would be happier if we just had more: a bigger house, a new car, or nicer clothes for example. We think that if we can acquire these things, we will someday “have it all”, and that we will achieve this if we just work hard enough. But what if we already have what we need to be happy and we are missing it?

We spend each minute planning out the next. We think about coffee when we are taking our shower, we dread our morning commute when we are drinking our coffee, and we debate whether we are really prepared for our work day when we are making our morning commute. By constantly focusing on the future and acquiring what we think we don’t have, we miss the journey and fail to appreciate the moment and the joy that is in front of us right now.

Although there is something to be said for ambition; this is its downside. Wanting more is both a blessing and a curse. It makes you a goal-oriented achiever, but it can also leave you never satisfied, if you are not careful. This made me wonder, is there a way that happiness and ambition can work together?

I think that depends on how you define happiness and how you define success. If you believe that happiness will be found by acquiring more, it will be hard to ever be happy. There will always be something new that you don’t have or someone with more. What if instead happiness is having a purpose that aligns with our values. In other words, finding meaning. This would mean that happiness could be found in the things that currently surround us. Most of us have a lot to appreciate that we never even notice on a daily basis: running water, people who love and support us, refrigeration, a car, air conditioning, or coffee, for example. What if we started enjoying what we already have, stopped to say our blessings out loud, and then wrote them down?

Working towards a purpose is also where achievement and happiness intersect. This defines happiness not by what you have (possessions) but by the difference that you make (your journey). Success becomes not about getting to a certain place but instead about making a positive impact- something that can only be acquired through a balance of enjoying the everyday and looking toward the future.

You may say, but right now I am trying to work from home while looking at a sink full of dishes and a pile of laundry that needs to be folded as my kid pulls on me and asks me to sing the same song 100 times. Believe me, I hear you. But as I sing the Appleseed blessing to my daughter for approximately the 48th time today, I watch her wave her tiny hands in the air, tipping her head back to look at me with delight, her golden curls fall almost to her shoulders. When I finish she smiles and says, “Apple Blessing! Again, Mommy.” Turning away from my computer, I actually hear the words and see the little person in front of me. One day, I will wake up, and I will be the same, but she will have moved on to something new. She won’t ask me to sing to her anymore. So, today I will enjoy these moments. I smile back at her, as I start the song again from the beginning.

 

-Nina Parrish, M.Ed.
Owner | Parrish Learning Zone, LLC

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                                       ~Nina

Nina Parrish, M. Ed.

Nina Parrish, M. Ed.

Co-Owner and Director of Education

Proud mom of two adorable girls. Teacher who has developed an education business that started at a kitchen table and has grown into a thriving small business... Click here to Learn more about Nina.

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Pam Cantrell Burton
Pam Cantrell Burton
2020-10-14T16:15:51+0000
Parrish Learning Zone helped my daughter with on-line SAT and college essay preparation. She not only scored in the top 90 percentile on the SAT after working with Lauren Cannavo, she especially benefited from the tutoring she received for her admission essays. My daughter was accepted at Notre Dame, UVA, William and Mary, and received scholarships to George Washington University and the University of Alabama. She was initially deferred at the University of Chicago and waitlisted at University of Michigan and Emory University. She eventually chose not to remain on the waitlists and committed to UVA.Lauren also advised our daughter regarding her submission of a 20 page essay on community service for DECA, a high school business club. Our daughter, along with her partner, won second place in her category at the DECA state competitions in 2019 and 2020, and received second place at the DECA international competition in 2019.Lauren was not only a top-notch professional, she really cared about our daughter and was so pleased about her accomplishments. We are so very grateful to her and Parrish Learning Zone.
Marijayne Kruus
Marijayne Kruus
2020-05-11T21:51:37+0000
My daughter has a math learning disability and hated math. We started working with Nina Parrish and stuck with it for several months. Her grades have improved, but more importantly, so has her self confidence. She now loves going to work on math and will even work on it at home by herself. We are grateful for Parrish Learning Zone!
Laura Ellis
Laura Ellis
2018-12-14T14:36:43+0000
Mr. Chaves is an extremely gifted chemistry teacher. It's such a difficult subject--my son was drowning by the time we found PLZ. This was truly a last ditch effort on our part. Mr. Chaves was able to turn that ship around after only 4 lessons and my son passed the SOL! He was able to distill difficult concepts in a way that made them comprehensible and he was patient and kind and gave my son the confidence to succeed. His actual eacher expressed surprise and made a point of telling him he didn't know how he did it but he was impressed. It takes a gifted teacher to get results like that.I only wish we'd found PLZ and Mr. Chaves in the beginning of the school year.
Wendy Zelazny
Wendy Zelazny
2018-06-08T02:05:15+0000
Highly Recommend
Anne Kater Reeves
Anne Kater Reeves
2018-06-07T22:46:05+0000
I highly recommend Parrish Learning Zone. My daughter was able to achieve the SAT score she was aiming for with the help of her Math (Mr. James Slane) and English (Mrs. Lauren Cannavo) tutors. Not only did they help her with practice tests but they also boosted her confidence in taking the SAT. The owners (Nina and Jay) were always prompt in answering my emails. They are very accommodating and worked around my daughter’s schedule (thank you Shiela for all your help in finding available dates for my daughter to meet with her tutors). Thank you Parrish Learning Zone for helping my daughter achieve her goal!
Beth Yankovich
Beth Yankovich
2018-03-23T20:29:18+0000
I can't say enough good things about Parrish Learning Zone. My son has historically suffered from low reading comprehension. I felt he needed a little extra help so I contacted Parrish Learning Zone. The owners at Parrish matched my son with the perfect tutor for him, they developed a rapport almost immediately. He is now in 8th grade and doing well in all his classes. My son is very active in school sports and the staff at Parrish are always very accommodating. They always reschedule with no problems. My son even likes to go early to chat with Sheila.
Beth Kent
Beth Kent
2017-11-08T18:59:11+0000
Awesome! Very structured and student focused - they identified the areas of weakness and turned those into areas of strength in a very short amount of time. I loved the communication from the tutor and the company. I received a specific report of my child's tutoring session including improvements and areas that needed continued work. I received reminders of upcoming tutor sessions - which I needed!! I felt the individual attention and service was worth every penny AND found the prices to be much more reasonable that other tutors in the area. I would HIGHLY recommend Parrish Learning Zone to any parent that needs to find highly competent tutoring help for their child. Parrish is simply the best!
Michele Hiltbrunner Freemyers
Michele Hiltbrunner Freemyers
2017-03-14T15:53:50+0000
An excellent place to take your kids for any tutoring needs! PLZ is a very personalized and hands on service! Both of my teenage boys have been through here for various reasons and I know we will continue to make use of them!
Tammy Elms Mosco
Tammy Elms Mosco
2016-06-02T12:20:59+0000
SAT Prep Course with Parish Learning is definitely a worthwhile invest !!...My son's scores improved over 200 plus points!!
Janice Boles
Janice Boles
2014-12-02T22:34:32+0000
I am extremely thankful to Parrish Learning Zone. I have a son that is a freshman in college majoring in mechanical engineering. I am so glad that we found out about the Parrish Learning Zone because they were very caring and really worked hard around my sons high school football schedule to ensure that he received all of the needed instruction in order to do well on the SAT testing. It was a great investment for his future. I believe this experience prepared my son for the transition to college life. He was able to attend a top engineering college and to play football there. My daughter is a senior in high school now and was admitted into two of the top ranked public schools in Virginia. She will be a freshman at one of these schools next year. She also was enrolled in the Parrish Learning Zone for preparation for the SAT. I am again thankful to the Parrish Learning Zone and feel that this was a great long term investment into their futures. I would strongly recommend the Parrish Learning Zone to anyone looking for an environment that offers a caring and knowledgeable approach to educating students. They are the best.
Angela Jackson
Angela Jackson
2014-05-15T00:39:39+0000
Andrew Powers
Andrew Powers
2014-02-09T12:32:29+0000

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