5 Actions to Be a Happier Parent with Happier Children TodayJun 04, 2014
The tag line of Exercising Values has always been happy, healthy, well-behaved children in fifteen minutes a day. There is a balance to these three goals.
Happiness that is gained through permissive and self-centered behavior is fleeting and produces no long-lasting ability to stay joyful and serene through varied circumstances.
Healthy behaviors that are coerced are also unlikely tot last even when they are self-imposed. Just ask any dieter who has regained the weight after forcing themselves to comply to a set of rules and restrictions for a time.
I hesitated to even associate the term well-behaved with EV because it could lead to focus on outward behaviors that may or may not come from inner conviction. EV takes the approach that if you teach and model good character, that the desired behavior will follow. In this way, happiness and social and emotional health are likely to follow.
We’ll look at these three promised results one at a time,over several blog posts. We will be focusing on happiness to begin with because recent research in positive psychology is showing how influencing your children to be happy may be one of the best advantages you give them in life.
If you are unfamiliar with Nicholas Christakis’s book Connected, I’d invite you to view his TED talk and get acquainted with his finding that our moods, attitudes and encouragement has the power to not only effect those that come into contact with it but three circles beyond. In other words, send your child off to piano lessons with an encouraging word and the smile he consequently gives his piano teacher may be felt by the piano teacher’s aunt who happens to call her later that day. Christakis estimates that most of us exert this much influence on at least 1,000 people.
So our first lesson for today on the subject of happiness is that it matters. Shaun Achor who wrote another book I’d recommend to you, The Happiness Advantage, reports that our brains can discern the mood of another person within a fraction of a second and that within minutes we will be adopting the same mood, good or bad. Ask anyone who has shared an office of moody people and they will confirm this truth. We influence each other.
So as a mom or dad, you have the power to set the mood of the family each and every day. How you wake up is important. When you awake, habitually turning your mind to a memorized verse of Scripture, a motivational quote, a happy song, or a few aspects of your life that you are grateful for may have the power to touch 1,000 lives today beginning with your own.
Next post, we’ll focus more on what you individually stand to gain by pursuing happiness. Later, we’ll look at the benefits your children will inherit as a result. But as we start this discussion, take a moment to realize that each of us has far reaching power to make this day better for someone we may never even meet. Your life matters.
I imagine you are able to realize that the opposite is also sadly true. If you speak words of complaint and criticism to others or even ignore them (like not looking up from the computer screen or setting the phone down) that many others may be harmed as a result. You will have missed an opportunity to begin a chain reaction of good will.
In the EV program, we always have a suggested action to take to make what we’ve learned profitable and not just another good idea laying dormant, tucked away in our brains. So let’s do the same with these ideas. Here’s a few suggestions of actions you can take today to spread happiness in the world. Don’t underestimate their power to help you, your children and maybe 1,000 others.
1. Smile and make eye contact in your interactions today.
2. Notice what someone else has done well and tell them so.
3. Develop a morning ritual where you intentionally focus on words of wisdom and encouragement.
4. Exercise and teach character to your children today utilizing the EV tools.
5. Find one person who seems down and utilize your listening skills, empathy and encouragement to raise their mood a notch or two.
Now smile, take action and then please share your comments below on what you notice as a result of this experiment.
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