Blog post #1 Aug 2020
Happiness hunting for children (and an alien)
I was a parent with primary school aged children when I began learning about happiness, but I wish I’d not left it so long. Just like any parent I wanted my children to be happy, but did I actually know what that meant and how to make it happen? I needed to lift the lid on happiness.
Is being happy a bit like having a superpower?
I was surprised to discover there was a scientific approach to the study of happiness and plenty of books available on the subject reporting findings of evidence-based happiness or wellbeing studies (a version of happiness associated with health or flourishing).
And an amazing range of positive findings were highlighted including better health, improved relationships, academic achievement, more creativity, success, optimism and perhaps even longer life.
A search for ‘happiness clues’
There were skills, attitudes and behaviours identified in the findings too, like acting kindly, being in nature and having a positive mind set and suggestions that skills can improve with practice. Could these be ‘happiness clues’ – small, every day things that perhaps made a big difference to life?
I started including some of these ‘happiness behaviours’ into my routine, adding regular ‘happy activities’ into plans for the week ahead whenever possible. I tried consciously to shift my attitude to talk about the positive parts of my day when familiar negative patterns started to kick in. Over weeks and months, I began to feel more energised, purposeful and optimistic, and noticed the childrens’ attitude start to shift too as we tried to reflect more on the positive moments from our days.
So many happiness ideas so little time…
But there were many happiness ideas that we just didn’t find the time to talk about during the busy days of work, school, homework and after school activities and there was definitely a ‘disconnect’ between what my children thought would make them happy and the happiness ‘clues’ I’d read about.
Some of the clues had the potential to make others happier too and overlapped with friendship skills like kindness, empathy and compassion. I wanted to help my children be empowered in the knowledge of happy, healthier choices and with so much concerning news coverage about children’s mental health, I didn’t think I was alone.
What do we know about levels of child happiness in the UK?
Child happiness is declining. The Good Childhood Report (a study by The Children’s Society that compares children’s happiness, by examining year-on-year figures), has identified a downward trend in happiness with children’s ‘life as a whole’.
Happiness and busy families
Understanding more about happiness had been helpful in my life and I thought it might be so for other families too. I wondered how I could share happiness ideas with busy families in a way that didn’t add to the hectic schedules.
Exploring happiness at reading time
Reading at bedtime was part of our daily routine. My children regularly picked preferred books – often interactive ones with puzzles, items to spot or choices to make. And whilst they enjoyed being involved in directing the story, I enjoyed the opportunity for conversation, connection and fun whilst reading together.
As books about happiness had had such a positive impact on my life and knowing that literacy also supports happiness and wellbeing I decided that a book for children was the perfect format to help children in their happiness journey.
So, I imagined an interactive picture story book packed with empowering happiness ideas to explore, beautiful images, fun and playful pages with questions to support family connection whilst sparking conversations and reflection on positive moments from the day.
Like most ideas, this one turned up when I was least expecting it, on this occasion whilst out dog walking(!), but it’s now been a ‘passion project’ for the past few years. I’ve been fortunate to work with and seek the advice of amazing professionals and parents who have steered, advised and sense checked. And as we near completion in these unprecedented and difficult times happiness, optimism and resilience (for both now and the future) have possibly never been more needed or more relevant.
I hope readers (young and old!) enjoy finding the many happiness-inspired clues in this hide-and-seek style activity book, and that as they grow, so will their own personal (and their families’) happiness.
For more information on the rhyming picture book please go to the home page: https://www.funfairbooks.com