Excitement undermines happiness...
(listen here!)Read the entire column, or listen to him discuss the subject on his radio show.
If you want your children to be happy adults and even happy children - and what parent does not? - minimize the excitement in their lives. The more excitement, the less happy they are likely to be.
In both adults and children, one can either pursue excitement or pursue happiness, but one cannot do both. If you pursue excitement, you will not attain happiness. If you pursue happiness, you will still experience some moments of excitement, but you will attain happiness only if happiness, not excitement, is your goal.
The solutions are as simple to offer as they may be difficult to enforce. Limit the amount of excitement in your children's lives: the amount of video games, the amount of non-serious television, the amount of music whose only aim is to excite. If they are bored, they will have to remedy that boredom by playing with friends, finding a hobby, talking to a family member, walking the dog, doing chores, reading a book or magazine, learning a musical instrument or foreign language, memorizing state capitals, writing a story or just their thoughts, exercising or playing a sport, or just thinking.
The younger the age from which children are deprived of superficial excitement, the longer they will remain innocent - i.e., not jaded - and capable of real happiness. For as long as they live under your roof, and therefore (hopefully) under your control, you can implement excitement detox. If you do, they may hate you now, but they will thank you later, which is far superior to liking you now and hating you later. And in parenting, that is often the choice we must make.
If you want to check out more of Dennis, listen to any/all of Dennis' podcasts of his radio show... he's truly fantastic.