I really enjoyed my work as a Behaviour Consultant for London Borough of Redbridge some years ago. For part of our own professional development and the annual appraisal we could choose a topic to research that interested us and benefitted the team. I chose ‘Happiness,’ considering my other projects in past years were based on Well-Being, Relaxation, Resilience and Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP). During my research I learnt many things which helped to shape the workshop that I have now written as a book.
Firstly, happiness is a choice, and it is a skill. In the same way as you go to the gym to train your muscles, you have to train your brain and do daily activities towards happiness and create a new habit.
What Is Happiness To You?
Everyone wants to be happy – you ask people what they want in their lives and a lot of people say, “I just want to be happy.” Parents say “I just want my child to be happy,” but what does that really mean?
It means different things to different people. As adults it may mean a happy relationship, being able to travel or enjoying work. But for children it could be different – they may want a best friend, their favourite sweets or to be able to fight all the monsters. To me, happiness is spending quality time with my family.
Here are 5 steps you can take to be happier, whether this is for your child, for yourself or both of you together.
5 Ways To Help You & Your Children Be Happier
#1 Sit and eat together
Many of us have busy lives and different schedules and do not always have time to sit and eat together as a family. But studies show that families that eat together are happier. It gives us a time to talk and catch up on what is going on in others lives. It gives our children a chance to tell us about their day and what has gone well and who they have fallen out with that day. No matter what meal of the day it is – breakfast, lunch or dinner – sharing food and conversation will help strengthen the family relationship and everyone will be happier.
#2 Do creative activities together
Lots of children love to do creative activities – I know my own daughter loved to get messy with painting, creative with play dough and build with Lego. All these activities allow children to explore their emotions and relax. Sit with your children while they play and get involved too. Maybe try an adult colouring book when the kids have gone to bed to help you unwind and relax. The more relaxed you and your children are, the happier you will be.
#3 Choose something to be in awe of
If you watch a child, you will see they are in awe of lots of things – things we take for granted. The first time they see a rainbow, a puddle or a dog – they are fascinated. They are always learning and discovering – this sense of awe inspires happiness. As adults we can learn from this and take time to find things in our every day world that leave us in awe.
#4 Model and practice gratitude
The more we are grateful for what we have, the happier we will be. Talk to your child each day about what they are grateful for – you could take it in turns to name one thing you are grateful for that day until you get to at least 5 each. Doing this every day will encourage a culture of gratitude and will uplift your whole family.
#5 Teach and live your values
We all have values – many are taught to us by our parents and some we learn as we go through life and have different experiences. Develop a value for yourself, if you do not already have it, of happiness. Reinforce this whenever you do an activity together to cultivate happiness – comment on what a lovely time you are having together or pause the treasure a specific moment or feeling.
Try at least one of these five tips in the next week and see if you feel happier and notice any change in your children.
Video: 3 Strategies To Happiness
What’s Up Next?
Next up I will be continuing the theme of emotions. The next emotion I will focus on is anger. If you have anything specific you would like answered please get in touch before next week and I will include it in the next blog.