My smile began five words into the sentence. It started small, but a few words later is was full. By the end of the sentence my smile was complete.

Reading my friend’s sentence made me happy and increased my joy. It was a deep, heartfelt joy for a good friend. It was good. It felt good. Joy is good.

I want our teens and children to know the feeling of joy and to want to experience it often. There are other feelings worth prioritizing, too.

Unfortunately, children being raised by and with technology are prioritizing happiness. There are many reasons, including our parenting styles, the entertainment of games and movies, how much easier technology makes many things, and how easy it is to x-out of things that bore them.

As I write in my book, Screens and Teens, I don’t want kids to be unhappy. I just don’t want them to think happiness is as good as it gets. It’s not. If they think it is, they may too often make decisions based on whether they’ll be happy. At times, that’s fine. At other times, it could cause them to choose unwisely.

This is why we must be the parents. We must help children by saying “no” when we must and “yes” when we should. We must be willing to handle their lack of happiness and possible complaints and anger for a while because we’re parenting with the big picture in mind.

Happiness is great. Yet, there’s so much beyond happiness. Imagine children and teens getting to know these feelings and prioritizing them.

Joy. Surprise. Contentment. Peace. Excitement. Connected. Wonder. Fulfilled. Playful. Committed. Passionate. Delighted. Enthusiastic. Secure. Confident. Free. Hopeful. Inspired. Optimistic. Purposeful. Renewed. Vital.

Do you wonder what sentence I read that caused me to smile broadly and to be filled with joy? A friend wrote:

“I am honestly more joyful and at peace than I have been in a very long time… If ever.”

I know the beauty of these feelings and want them for my friend. How much more should we want them for our kids? Let’s do what we can so they know the power and beauty of these feelings and want to live to discover and maintain them.