Do you want your kids to be happy? Seems like a simple question. The answer is a resounding yes! When parents are asked, “What do you want for your child when they grow up?” The most common answer is, “I want them to be happy.” But how many conversations take place about what is happiness and how can you increase your happiness versus leaving that part up to chance. This part doesn’t have to be left up to chance or luck. You can talk about happiness and discuss ways to increase happiness levels.
We are getting better about teaching our children about their emotions and what it means to be sad or mad. But what about happiness? If you asked your child what it means to be happy, what do you think their response would be? Kids often relate happiness to accomplishing something, whether that is an ‘A’ on a test, a clean room or getting into the right school. Is that because that is how adults gauge happiness? Examine happiness as its own reward. Happy people make better leaders and teammates. They are more likely to volunteer their time and resources to help others. They are more resilient when faced with challenges to their mental health.
We are all living in a mental health crisis and worldwide kids are overwhelmingly sad with feelings of isolation and this often leads to depression. According to a recent study put out by the Center for Disease Control, “persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness” rose from 26 percent to 44 percent in the last 12 years amongst teenagers. This marks the highest levels of teenage sadness ever recorded. We have to start teaching and modeling what we can do to put the odds in our favor for living a happy and healthy life.
According to a series of five studies published in the Journal of Positive Psychology, the secret to happiness may be found in doing things for others. People report higher levels of happiness when they are giving instead of receiving. This goes back to our need for connection. When we feel connected to another person this increases our overall happiness more than when we do something for ourselves.
There is an abundant amount of research out there that talks about what you need to be happy and surprisingly it is not actually what happens to you that is the most important factor. There are two factors that stand out the most:
Having at least one good relationship with a trusted person.
Having a purpose in your life.
These are both feasible and teachable to our kids but we have to talk openly about these two things.
A large determinate in how happy we are has to do with our mental, physical and emotional well being. You can absolutely increase your odds of raising a happy child through the way you raise them and modeling the behaviors listed below.
Get enough sleep.
Be physically active.
Do things for others.
Put a spotlight on the positive things in their lives.
Spend time in nature.
These are habits that will cultivate happiness and build resiliency in ourselves and our children. You can build these habits into your daily life and then you are able to model and talk about them. Discuss why you do these things and what they can bring to your life. Happiness begins with us as parents. Our children need us more than ever to build solid relationships and promote emotional well being that leads to greater levels of happiness. Ask your children tonight what sparks joy in their lives and do the same for yourself. As this holiday season approaches there will be lots of opportunities to give more than you get and raise those happiness levels through the roof.