Melissa Francis: How to Keep Happiness Front and Center

All moms and dads need to give themselves a bit of a break now and then — here's why it's so critical

We’re all searching for the secret of happiness in our lives — and some very accomplished people have made more progress on that important goal than others. From them, the rest of us can learn a great deal.

Melissa Francis, a television journalist for the Fox Business Network, has a unique approach — partially because she has such a unique background. When she was younger, she had a role on the iconic American television show “Little House on the Prairie.” And she’s taken lessons learned in that setting and from some of the people she worked with into her adult life, both in her current career and as a parent.

Her new book is called, “Lessons from the Prairie: The Surprising Secrets to Happiness, Success, and (Sometimes Just) Survival I Learned on America’s Favorite Show” (Weinstein Books).

“Happiness, joy — it’s something we try to pursue and really enjoy,” said LifeZette Editor-in-Chief Laura Ingraham on “The Laura Ingraham Show” on Monday. “The hard thing about it is life is busy, life is frantic, life gets ahead of us — and we kind of lose sight of what’s most important. So we get wrapped around the axle about silly things. It’s just human nature.”

That’s why it’s fun, she said, “to see what other people — people I respect, people who have achieved something in their professional life — [do to find happiness], especially people with varied experiences … You want people who have a different experience [to share their practical advice],” she said.

Melissa Francis, who was a guest on the show, said, “Happiness is a big ask, and it can be kind of fading. One thing I was always looking for was peace, to find that sense of contentment, to not feel stressed or anxious.”

In her book, she also shares this tip, she said: “Try not to be a lunatic, or you’ll just drive yourself crazy!”

Parents in particular are always engaged in a juggling act, whether it’s work, kids, home, friends, social obligations — or much more. And none of us wants to feel guilt, although guilt is far too prevalent. “The kids need you. Your work needs you. The kids always need to come first, but sometimes they can’t,” said Ingraham, a single parent of three children. “And that’s a difficult thing to have to admit.”

Melissa Francis of the Fox Business Network
Melissa Francis of the Fox Business Network

Francis, who has a seven-year-old son, discussed at length what every parent on the face of the earth can identify with — those endless feelings of guilt. “If you’re at work, you feel guilty that you’re not with your child. If you’re with your child, you feel guilty that you’ve left your work.”

Then she mentioned a mom she knows who feels guilty that she’s not working — and not using her college education. Another woman said she feels guilty her husband is working so hard.

Francis added that as a parent, “You just feel guilty all the time. And I just think: Let’s sit down and take a load off, maybe have a glass of wine. We need to give ourselves a break, and please let’s give the other women around us a break, too … We’re all pushing ourselves so hard.”

Related: The Secrets of Raising Happy Children

Francis said she often tells herself that she’s “doing the best I can every day.”

She added, “Let’s be honest with each other. We can be nicer to each other, more relaxed.”

Listen to the entire exchange about parenting, happiness, children and more by clicking on the audio link above.