How to help your kids develop the happiness skill

How to help your kids develop the happiness skill

We all want our kids to be happy, that goes without saying. Healthy and happy. But did you know that happiness is a skill that can be developed? According to this CBC article, happiness isn’t something that just happens to us but rather something we can choose and cultivate.

Psychologist and author Shawn Achor says daily happiness habits will help your child (and the grown-ups who love her) be happier and even turn her into a “lifelong optimist.” He offers the following five happiness tips:

1. Practice, practice, practice

Like learning to throw a ball or play the piano, happiness takes practice. Spend a short time each day focusing on positive thoughts. Take a few minutes before bed or at a meal to focus on what was great about the day.

2. Write it down

Writing down positive thoughts and experiences over time trains your brain to be happier and more optimistic. This could mean keeping a journal, writing a note to someone thanking them for something they did, or even sending a grateful email.

3. Train your brain

Teach your kids to scan the world for the things that make them happy and that they’re grateful for. Achor says that if you don’t use the part of your brain that finds the positives, it actually atrophies so it’s important to train it to look for them. When they go into a new situation, teach them how to look for the people and things they enjoy.

4. Go orange

The colour orange has an uplifting quality that most people associate with happiness. Surrounding yourself with bright happy colours will help your mood. No need to repaint all the walls in your home bright orange but some happy orange accessories in a child’s room, for example, may help turn that frown upside down.

5. Install happiness triggers

This is a great idea for a child’s room but also a way to reframe how you look at your whole house. Displaying favourite things and memories prominently, like a letter from a grandparent, photos of friends, or a memento from a special holiday increases our happiness. Achor also makes a point of saying that he organizes his house so that things that make him happy are always within reach like his guitar (out of the case and in the middle of his room) and his books (strategically scattered so there’s always something good to reach).

Read about more happiness boosters, like a burst of cardio or keeping a gratitude log.

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