A survey of children and adults
(names are changed to protect privacy).
Helen has a special interest in helping young people – especially children – to access the keys to their happiness. She believes it is vitally important for children, to begin to identify the things that contribute to their happiness, at a young age, to enable them to develop strategies for a more positive life.
This can begin with children as young as toddlers, telling a parent about their happy moments. Once the children can write, they should be encouraged to record these happy memories in a Happy notebook, so they have something to help them through the “blue days”, we all occasionally experience.
This strategy is especially important for children, caught up in a partnership break-up, or the loss of a parent, or special friend. To help combat the confusion and deep sense of loss, they feel, it is important to refocus them on the good things that are happening in their lives; right now. Writing down their happy moments, is one way to redirect their minds, into a more positive direction. This strategy has proven successful, by Helen and her friend, Berice, especially when working with young members of their own and their friends’ families.
At a barbecue, on a recent holiday visit, Helen was discussing the merits of her book, ‘Links to Your Happiness’ and, in particular, the ‘Happy Book strategy’, with friends. She asked a number of people present, “Do you know what it is that makes you Happy?” She was shocked to find how many people present, had no idea of what made them happy. They’d never given it much thought.
When asked, “What makes you sad,” they all, instantly, knew all the negative things that made them miserable, sad and angry, but had no idea of the positive aspects of their lives, which are so important to their happiness and wellbeing.
So, one night at a party, she asked a range of people from different ages, to tell her what made them happy. Interesting point: the children were instantly able to identify a large number of those items that contributed to their happiness, while the adults struggled to identify one or more.
Here is a list Helen took from a variety of age groups. She timed the responses at 2 minutes for each person, both male and female.
Wayne, male, 4 years
Bob the Builder, play-stations, waterslides, riding bikes, swimming, painting, helping Grandad, visiting Nana, having cuddles.
Jacqueline, girl – 7 years
Having fun with friends, red roses, TV programs, Christmas, Birthday parties, all sorts of games with other people, gardening, using cameras, going to school, playing with friends at school, after school activities, painting, learning new things, the beach, music, food, cold drinks. (Her time ran out before she finished)
Jake, teenage boy. - 13 years
Birthday parties and presents, fishing at the beach, Christmas presents, TV programs, exercise with Mum, photographing things with my camera, cooking, collecting minerals.
Rebecca, young woman – 21 years
Sunshine, friends, summertime, reading, learning, driving my car, snail mail, emails, relaxing, music. Suzanne, young woman – 28 years
Winning money on Lotto (small wins), coming home to a clean house, finding the perfect dress, shopping (other than groceries), having friends visit, having dinner made for me, being able to leave work early, finding more money than expected in my bank account, someone else mowing the lawn, flowers in pots, harvesting vegetables to eat (from my vegetable garden), making afghans (biscuits).( Suzanne writes up a happy book)
Jennifer, mother – 30 years
Shopping around, chatting with girlfriends, cooking special meals, movies, singing, exercise, going to the beach, hugging my kids, getting emails.
Ross (Rossco), young father – 35 years
Working with information technology, computers, and electronics – fixing things, spending time with my family, music, talking with young people, meeting new people, travel.
Maureen, grandmother – 49 years
Music, sleeping, the company of children, being with friends, grandchildren, ice cream, chocolate, swimming, being creative.
Mary, grandmother – 60 years
Time with family, being creative, walking on the beach, sewing special costumes for performers.
Sam, grandfather – 66 years
Sex, money, telling stories to children
Dave – 60++ years
Gardening, DIY activities, grandchildren, enjoying a beer, watching sport, cooking barbeques.
Looking at these responses, Helen couldn’t help notice, how much more aware children are, of the things that make them happy.
Regardless of age, we are all quite alike in our happiness. So many things seem to overlap – right through from childhood to adulthood.
Being creative is one that stands out – we love making things, whether it is a two or three-dimensional activity, such as painting or craft-work, dressmaking or gardening.
Cooking and creating special meals, is another common love. We all love eating nice food and creating tasty and interesting food for others, makes us all very happy.
Exercise: outdoor sporting or recreational activities, such as dancing, skating and like interests, cross age barriers and make people of all ages; from toddlers to elderly people, happy through their participation.
Being able to help one another without expecting payment, is a major contributor to our happiness. To be able to help someone in need, creates a sense of spiritual abundance and brings joy to those who give their time others.
Do you know what makes you happy? List ten things that made you happy today.
Helen McKay ©