I am excited to be participating in the blog carnival for Multicultural Kid Bloggers group. August carnival will be hosted by Giselle @ Kids Yoga Stories and the topic is really fascinating for me – Happiness Around the World. I decided to start by asking my 6 year old daughter her opinion:
- Me: What does “happiness” mean to you?
- Anna: Happiness is being happy.
- Me: OK. When are you happy?
- Anna: Well, when I don’t have any bad thoughts in my head. When I read and get lost in the book, or when I watch an awesome movie, or when we play games together as a family, or when I eat something yummy.
One of the latest issues of Times magazine had a special section on happiness. The main article can be found online here and it makes a lot of interesting points about how happiness is perceived in America and why the United States lag many countries, including countries significantly poorer than us, in measures of happiness and well being. I found one thought especially poignant – People who dwell on the past and future are less likely to be happy than people who concentrate on the present. Children are much better than us in focusing on the present, but we, parents, teach them at earlier and earlier ages to think about their future, set goals and measure their own happiness by what others think about their achievements.
My husband and I both come from cultures not known for their sunny outlook on life. Both Russian and German classic literature is full of stories of mental illness, suffering and sacrifice. However, there is also a message of acceptance and gratitude, of treasuring the present as something that is a gift to be savored. This is why we try not to overschedule our time leaving stretches of time to spend as a family – going places, playing games or simply reading together. Happiness for us doesn’t come from non-stop experiences or ability to buy more and more things (even though I am grateful that we can afford non-essential luxuries of life), but from being with people who we love most.
Your turn: Why do you think so many people are depressed? What are you doing to raise optimistic and resilient children? I promise to return to this topic shortly in a different post.