From time to time, I’m responding to various ideas that I think are prime examples of sloppy thinking. Such as:
All happy families resemble one another, each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
-Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina
This is one of the most memorable opening lines in all of world literature. It’s right up there with “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” and “Call me Ishmael.”
But, memorable as it may be, it’s just not true. In fact, the opposite is true.
All unhappy families resemble each other because the few components that go into making a family unhappy — impatience, selfishness, bitterness, resentment — are all self-centered. All self-serving people look pretty much alike. Under the same roo, these people can only take their family into places of misery and more misery. And misery — however you arrive — just looks miserable.
The components that produce a happy family, such as love for each other, the desire to support each other, efforts not to offend, the willingness to forgive when offended, hoping the best for each other… are all other-oriented.
And when these are active, the individual members are free to flourish into their own unique personalities. Mix and match those flourishing personalities together and you get a family that is like no other.