'What my daughters have taught me about being truly happy.'

UPHE Content Group
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Last year I had ‘one of those years’, where I seemed to have a lot of bad stuff happening.

From close family and friends being diagnosed with cancer, my own health scare, and other personal challenges, it seemed like that saying was correct – “When it rains, it pours.”

The truth was that all of those events were compounding on top of me, pushing me further downward each and every time another one happened; until I was at the point where I didn’t think I could go much further down.

But then something happened. Someone happened, and the irony was that they’d been there the whole time, right in front of me, just being masked by my cynical adult eyes.

The other day I was reminded of this person and this ‘something’, as I watched the film H is for Happiness (based on Barry Jonsberg’s young adult novel My Life as an Alphabet). As I saw the freckle-faced, 12-year-old character of Candice Phee on screen, straight away, my own seven-year-old, freckle-faced daughter came to my mind.

Before even speaking, just with the fresh glint of positivity in her eye, I saw that sense of boundless optimism inherent within Candice that is shared by my own daughter, Addison.

Just like Candice in H is for Happiness, it was with Addison’s unique view of the world and her honest determination that brought happiness back into my life when I felt as if it had truly disappeared.

See the beautiful H is for Happiness trailer below. Post continues after video.

You see, there is something about Addison, my Addi, that not everyone has. She is wise beyond her years with a level of empathy and observation that many adults don’t even possess, yet she is filled with optimism, honesty and the determination of a child.

So, one day after hearing some devastating news about a close friend of mine, although I wasn’t crying or visibly upset, with her incredible powers of observation she noticed I wasn’t myself.

“Mumma, what’s wrong?” She asked me, her arm on my back, just as I often do with her in times when I know she needs comfort.

“I’m just a bit sad,” I replied, not wanting to tell her all the details but sharing enough that she would know that there was something wrong.

But Addi didn’t stop then and walk away. She asked me more questions, for more details, she wanted to understand what was making me feel that way. And then after succumbing to her questions (did I mention her persistence?), she looked me directly in the eye and told me something, then did something I will never, ever forget.


“I am sad about your friend too, Mum. I am sad for her and for you. But I love you, you will always have me, and you can talk to me whenever you want. I will listen.”

She then took my hand, bent over slightly as if she had a hunch in her back, clasped her hand like she was holding a walking stick and said to me with her ‘Old Granny’ voice:

“Come on love, put a smile on that dial. Old Granny wants to make you happy. Let’s play a game, my dear, I will even let you choose,” she said, smiling at me.

At that time there was probably nothing else that could have made me actually smile, let alone laugh. Her compassion and understanding of how I was feeling, her determination to not leave me feeling that way combined with that spark of childhood imagination that is just as real and important as anything else was profound.

It was probably the only thing that could’ve reminded me that in my life, bad things might be happening but so were good things. Very good things.

So Old Granny and I picked up ‘Gramps’ (my youngest daughter who took on the role of grandpa) from playing bingo (watching TV in the lounge room) and headed outside to play.

Once we had spun around in circles until we couldn’t stand up, we fell to the ground below.

“That cloud looks like a butterfly,” my youngest daughter Milla said.

“That cloud looks like a girl,” Addi replied pointing at another cloud.

“And another girl,” added Milla pointing to the one next to that.

When I looked up, I saw what they saw and then I saw something else. Next to the two cloud girls I saw a taller cloud person.

“That cloud looks like me,” I said.

“It’s us. A cloud family,” said Addi.

And that is what it took for me that day, to change how I saw the world, to see it in a more positive way, a more realistic way.

They reminded me of all the things that I actually do have and am so very lucky to have, the things that I had let become overcome by everything else.

The H for my happiness was found within two girls with an abundance of optimism who also happened to be my own daughters, who were there all along.

What is the H for your happiness? Have your kids helped bring you perspective when you needed it most? Share with us below.

H is for Happiness is in Australian cinemas from February 6.

Feature image: Supplied.

UPHE Content Group

H is for Happiness is in Australian cinemas from February 6.

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