Parent Education Speaker Dr. Zelana Montminy Advises Audience to Forget Happiness and Master Resilience

On October 4, Viewpoint hosted Dr. Zelana Montminy, the first SSALA (School Speaker Alliance of Los Angeles) speaker of the 2019-20 school year. Speaking to a large audience of engaged parents in the School’s Carlson Family Theater, Dr. Montminy urged them to resist the idea that happiness is the ultimate goal, and instead help their children to “master resilience instead.”
Dr. Montminy is a prominent figure in the area of Positive Psychology and one of Maria Shriver's Architects of Change. She is the author of the bestselling book 21 Days to Resilience (Harper Collins), and has been a regular on The Dr. Oz Show, The Today Show, The Doctors, Good Moring America, and Access Live. Dr. Montminy also contributes regularly to various publications including Psychology Today, Health Magazine, MindBodyGreen, Huffington Post, Parents Magazine, and Redbook. 

Based on the latest research in behavioral science, Dr. Montminy made the case that Americans’ pursuit of the elusive feeling or idea of happiness is actually a mental health crisis in this country. Since 1972 when it was first measured, happiness has plummeted. Instead of being the goal, she offers, happiness should be seen as a byproduct of growing through adversity, and developing the mental agility to deal with life’s inevitable stressors. Lasting contentment and success comes from resilience.

She made the following suggestions of ways parents can help their children to become more resilient:

  • Commit to quality (and electronic-free) time as a family.
  • Show warmth and affection – even if your adolescent child is a bit resistant.
  • Ask open ended questions to avoid one-word answers.
  • Check your own relationships and how you model them to your children.
  • Help them build independence by doing things their own way.
  • When it comes to problem solving, be a guide not the solution.
  • Let them be bored.
  • Help your children regulate their emotions by talking through them. Don’t try to “fix” how they feel.
  • Remind them that “difficult times are a part of life and don’t last” to help them to reframe their thinking patterns.
  • Allow your child to experience everyday adversity and fail.
  • Encourage positive self-talk and model it, especially when it comes to challenging social situations.
  • Don’t let them be your “life’s purpose.” It puts too much pressure on them to be your everything.
  • Do less, not more. That is what will really help them.
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