We hope you have enjoyed this series on Kids & The Happiness Advantage. We have used the book, The Happiness Advantage, by Shawn Achor to explore how to apply The Happiness Advantage in our own lives and in those of our children. So far, we have explored:
Changing your performance by changing your mindset
Training your brain to look for positive opportunities
Using failure to build momentum to move up
Starting with small manageable goals to build on your success
Turn bad habits into good by removing barriers
All of these principles and ideas make a tremendous difference in our lives whether you are 0 or 99 years old. However, the most important principle (and the one that is saved for last) is social investment. According to Achor, social support is our single greatest asset. We are actually biologically wired for social connection. So much so that one study found that people who had emotional support during six months after a heart attack were three times more likely to survive. Achor even found that researchers have determined that social support has as much effect on life expectancy as smoking, high blood pressure, obesity, and physical activity.
Our culture seems to pride itself in individualism, while the contrary is actually more beneficial to us. A Harvard study, that followed men for over 70 years, found that social bonds not only helped with overall happiness but career achievement, occupational success, and income as well!
Since social bonds are the most important part of having the happiness advantage in our lives, how do we help our kids create these bonds?
Model positive interactions: Start at home with thoughtful questions and active listening. Have a smile on your face when your children leave home and when they come home.
Volunteer: In the book, Achor mentions that when companies have a volunteer program, their employees exhibit signs of feeling happier and more connected. Even for those who do not participate, just knowing that the program is available brings about more connections. Encourage your kids to volunteer at school, at your local community shelter, or place of worship. Better yet, make it a family affair! I know many families who volunteer their time by being of service to others during holidays as a way to give back to others.
Invest in relationships: Model how you spend time with your friends and/or family and how much you care for their well-being too. Allowing your kids to see you making an investment in your relationships (and the happiness that comes with it) will serve as an example for them to follow. Monkey see...monkey do!
Have fun: Come up with simple ways to have your child spend quality time with other children. Of course, they probably go to school and get to interact there, but summer is approaching. Explore new places and try new things that might introduce them to new activities, new people, and new friends. Provide opportunities for social interaction with the only goal being to have fun!
How do you help develop positive social bonds with the kids in your life? What would you add? Were you surprised to find out that our social bonds are the most important piece of the happiness puzzle?