Letting Children Guide Us to Happiness
School’s open and some of us parents are back in the patterns of having sleep deprivation and anxiety attacks from having to juggle work, family, the household and life, while maintaining some semblance of sanity to face the everyday life.
In this interesting article, we decided to ask kids to teach us a thing or two about happiness, because clearly, they’re the ones who seem to be happier than us adults! So, what’s their secret? (Read until the end for our first-ever interview with a little friend.)
But first, what is happiness?
Trying to define happiness is almost like trying to taste the colour red – it’s tough. We wouldn’t attempt to explain happiness, but according to Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, an organization devoted to the scientific understanding of happiness, and positive psychology researcher, Sonja Lyubomirsky, happiness is described as “the experience of joy, contentment, or positive well-being, combined with a sense that one’s life is good, meaningful, and worthwhile.”
HAPPINESS IS DESCRIBED AS “THE EXPERIENCE OF JOY, CONTENTMENT, OR POSITIVE WELL-BEING, COMBINED WITH A SENSE THAT ONE’S LIFE IS GOOD, MEANINGFUL, AND WORTHWHILE.
That can mean a lot of things, and we’ve looked around at what people make of happiness. Out of about 20 accounts of people between the ages of 20 and 50 years old from various countries around the world, these were the recurring themes—
- Wealth and possessions
- Fitting in
- A stable job
- Being content
As much as we try to understand happiness as being content about the little things, oftentimes we neglect to follow what we believe, and instead fall into the pattern of seeking for more. And MORE. AND MORE!
What can children teach us about happiness?
So we have a vague idea of what happiness could be, and how people try to make sense of it. Now, how do children define happiness? A day out with mum and dad, cuddling with the pet dog, flowers and hearts and happy faces… These are some of the things that make children happy. Now, take a moment to think about whether these are the same things that make you happy.
According to scientists, here are some of the things that make a child happy. Maybe we have some lessons to learn from that.
When a child makes a connection, whether with their parents or when making new friends, they create bonds that induce feelings of being loved and a sense of security. These are essential for a child’s happiness, and it need not be any different for us adults.
As we grow older, we retreat into the comfort of “catching up” on social media instead of bonding physically with our friends and family, because we are “too busy.” Yes, a child does not have to work and so their time can be dedicated to making these bonds and having fun. However, as adults, we have the abilities to schedule and make plans. If you can schedule a trip to the gym after a busy day at work, then making plans to have dinner with your family should not be too hard. Make time to make connections – that’s number one from a child’s secret to happiness.
LAUGH A LOT
When asked to choose between laughing and smiling, children will always choose laughing. If there is another option, they would choose to belly laugh. The old saying goes Laughing is the Best Medicine and the people who came up with that are never more right.
Here are 3 benefits of laughing—
- It releases feel-good endorphins in the brain – the prime chemical for our happiness!
- It is important to maintain relationships – both inducing laughter and laughing can tighten bonds between people, and as of the first point of connection, laughing can really be a catalyst for making these important connections!
- It reduces stress and increases energy to help you feel more focused – take that ‘laughing break’ at work and feel the effects of happiness shine down on you
So, start adding more comedies to your Netflix list! Or sharing more jokes!
JUST LET IT GO
This is our favourite response to stress, and anything that kills happiness. What do you do when you’re feeling stressed, or have too much work, or you’re just feeling unhappy about something? JUST LET IT GO.
We can blame it on our highly complex and comparatively developed brains, but as adults, we tend to think too much about stress and our work, the meaning of happiness, our duties and responsibilities, blah blah blah. Take a deep breath, stop the thoughts, and just let it go. Constantly eradicate those thoughts and the feelings of dissatisfaction, even if just for a moment, that instant of clarity and clear-mindedness can go a long way in creating happiness. (Try doing this consciously every hour, then every 30 minutes, then, every 10 minutes, until you’re catching yourself doing this habitually every single moment, every single day. Trust us, this works.)
When we learn not to take everything so seriously, we are taking happiness into our own hands. Children choose to be happy. They get unhappy sometimes, but they can easily choose to let go of their ego and emotional baggage and choose happiness.
There are many more lessons about happiness that we can learn from children. So, we’ll try to sum things up with a short interview with our little friend, Kate, a sprightly girl who loves reading, crafting and having picnics by the beach.
"What is Happiness" Interview with Kate, 9, student at CHIJ St Nicholas Girls’ School
(She's requested for this interview to be coloured 'Unicorn Purple')
Super Farmers (SF): What does being happy feel like?
Kate (K): Being happy is living your life to the fullest and thinking and saying good things to someone.
SF: Can you associate some words with this feeling? (it can be anything, eg. rainbows, love, cheeseburgers, etc)
K: Gratefulness, glee, laughter, tears of joy, love, enjoyment
SF: What was your happiest day like? Do you remember?
K: My happiest day was with lots of laughter and enjoyment.
SF: Do you think adults are happier than children? Or are children happier than adults? And why?
K: I feel that both have equal amounts of happiness because kids are happy by playing with friends and adults are happy having alone time to chillax.
SF: Can you advise our readers how they can remain happy everyday?
K: Keep yourself satisfied and live your life to the fullest. :-)
SF: In your opinion, what is a successful person?
K: A successful person is someone who has achieved their goals or have been loved by loved ones. That means even if you are poor or not!
Written by Ange Chua
Edited by Cynthea Lam
Ange Chua is an aspiring bird-watcher trying to fix her black thumbs. When she is not writing, you'd find her drinking tea out of teacups or reading in bed with her dog. She thinks her spirit animal is an alpaca.