A Lesson to Increase You & Your Kids' Happiness

(Inside: A simple lesson with big results.)

“Mom, I hid in the bathroom because I was scared my teacher would make me read my paragraph in front of the whole class,” my son whispered in the safety of the dimly lit room as I tucked him into bed. He’s confident – where’s this terror-so-I-must-hide coming from?

{Deep breath.}

There are so many issues “out there” that seem to find us and stick, no matter who we are. For example, your daughter is consistently anxious, paralyzed by the thought of making a wrong move that will cause unhappiness – you’re not putting this pressure on her, what’s going on? Or you son brushes off his girlfriend’s birthday – way to make your best girl feel important, son. Ugh, you’ve raised him better.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Between the issues and/or poor choices I see made by my students at the high school where I teach and my own elementary/middle-school-age kids, I wonder – If our kids could better understand what’s really important, would that eliminate some of their challenges? (Or at least take the edge off.) If my son realized failure to speak eloquently in front of his peers is not the end of the world, would he have shown up to class? If the daughter rocked by decision-paralysis realized perfect choices don’t guarantee happiness, could she more confidently move forward? If the boyfriend understood the importance of encouragement in building a relationship, would he have chosen a more thoughtful path?


I know struggle is normal. And God can shape us in beautiful ways through pain. (A fact I love…and hate.) I also know perfectionism is a cruel illusion that always disappoints. So, I’m not trying to skirt around the realities of life.

Instead, I’m simply wondering how often kids make decisions based on a limited understanding of what makes them happy. And are adults deliberate enough in talking about real happiness with the next generation? My heart nudged me to put on my Mom Psychologist Hat and research what makes people happy. (I had some time between Taxi-Driver Hat and Dinner Cook Hat.)


Family Games are also a GREAT WAY to build connection. 
Here are a few favorites:


I kept coming back to a TED Talk I’d seen. Listening to all the good insight Emily Esfahani Smith shares, my brain started stirring. I decided, my kids need to see this Ted Talk too. I’m making a lesson out of this for family time. (One to two times a month, we deliberately teach a life-lesson to our kids. I’m going to start including the lessons on my blog because this is totally my thing. Sign up for my emails so you don’t miss any. Also, to be noted – if our month is slammed and we don’t get to the family lesson, totally fine. This WILL NOT stress me out and you shouldn’t let it either. Because we resolved our mind to think this way. La-te-da. But, I digress…)

The best part of teaching our kids this kind of life lessons (especially when we throw in research) is…

…beware, selfish thought coming...

As we teach our kids these concepts – we’re strengthened in empowering ways we don’t expect. “It’s cold,” as my high school students say. (Which means, that’s great/awesome/amazing for those like me who grew up wearing tube socks, home perms and bangs shaped like a tidal wave.)

Here’s also what’s enlightening about studying the words of psychologists, researchers and other experts – their findings most often supports what God already told us in scripture. Based on this idea, I came up with a lesson for my family to help us better understand ourselves, figure out this world and grow in faith. Through these discussions, families get to know each other better and build connection.

With the holiday break coming, there will be hopefully some down time to connect through this lesson as a family...I mean, after all the "hosting" is done. And we all recover for a day... 


There is More to Life than Being Happy
(A Secret to Happiness)


Favorite little people, I’ve got a lesson for you. Before we start, let’s talk about things you think make you happy. Tell me what pops into your head.

{Allow some conversation around this.}

We’re going to learn about one expert's findings on what makes people happy. (Let’s see how high video games and new toys are on that list. I mean seriously, it could be number one and two...you never know.) Let’s watch Emily Esfahani Smith’s insightful TED Talk. Emily studied in grad school positive psychology to learn what truly makes people happy. She spent five years researching and interviewing hundreds of people to come to the conclusion she shares. She knows her stuff.

(Note to parents: Before you watch the clip as a family know, in the intro she talks about suicide. Not a topic I am discussing with my 7-year-old. 
I always recommend parents watch any videos before they show them to their children. We’ll skip the intro and only watched the middle - concise and effective.)

Watch seconds 2:16 to 9:02 of this video: There's More to Life Than Being Happy | Emily Esfahani Smith

If you enjoyed this article, check out: One Way to Learn How Your Kids Feel Loved

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Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Photo by Lotte Meijer on Unsplash

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