Happiness is the sum of hundreds of small things


What are the things we can do to increase our happiness and well-being and of course our children’s?  According to Harvard psychology professor Daniel Gilbert:

“We imagine that one or two things will have profound effect on our happiness. But it looks like happiness is the sum of hundreds of small things….The small stuff matters.”

What has been found is that how good your experiences are doesn’t matter nearly as much as how many good experiences you have.  It is the dozen of mildly nice things that happen to you each day that is likely to make you happier than the single truly amazing thing.  Over time these small things help build up your happiness.

What are some of the little things we can do to increase our happiness?

According to Dan Gilbert:

“The main things are to commit to some simple behaviours – meditating, exercise, getting enough sleep, to practice altruism…and nurturing your social connections”

If Dan Gilbert wanted to predict your happiness and could know only one thing about you, he wouldn’t want to know your gender, religion, health, or income. He’d want to know about your social network—about your friends and family and the strength of your bonds with them.

That’s great news – we all want our children to be happy and it’s every day things that can make a difference. So what can we do, or more importantly what can we encourage our children to do to make themselves happier? Maybe encouraging compassion and helping them understand the value of being a good friend, helping them relax and get the sleep they need and having positive family relationships.

“The things you can do to increase your happiness are obvious and small and take just a little time. But you have to do them every day and wait for the results.”

This may be the challenge – many of us are not good at routine and often expect things to happen instantly.



Do bullied children get anxiety, or children with anxiety get bullied? Which comes first?


Today is the National Day of action against bullying and violence so we thought we’d have a look at the link between bullying and anxiety. We found an interesting study which was conducted in the Netherlands to investigate whether bullying victimisation precedes psychosomatic and psychosocial symptoms or whether these symptoms precede victimisation.

In other words, does bullying bring on anxiety, or are children who suffer anxiety and depression more vulnerable to being bullied?


Navigating stormy weather conditions


Children today are faced with all sorts of worries and stress in their lives – it’s just a natural part of living.  Children need to learn how to handle themselves under all kinds of stressful conditions, just as a sailor needs to learn to sail in stormy weather conditions, not just when the weather is sunny and the wind is blowing exactly the way they want it.

Of course, we want to shield our children from unnecessary problems and hardships. However, we need to teach our kids that if we run away from our problems, the problems just multiply.  They don’t magically go away.  When it comes right down to it, facing our fears and problems is usually the only way to get past them.


Celebrating milestones


It’s important as a family to celebrate milestones. Memories fade quickly if not marked by honouring special moments in time. Remember to celebrate the big and small moments.

In a few weeks time we will be celebrating our eldest daughter finishing primary school and the excitement of starting high school.  To mark the occasion we have bought her a nice little present; a couple of old poetry books from a beautiful second hand book store. Her school is also doing a fantastic job at marking this right of passage by organising a ‘reflection day‘ for the students.

What milestones have you celebrated recently with your family?




A love letter to my child


Our eldest child Mia is about to enter an exciting chapter in her life next year – starting high school.  Her primary school is currently organising a ‘Reflection Day’ to give the year 6 students an opportunity to pause and reflect on their lives as they enter an important rite of passage. During this day the children read a short letter from both parents to reassure them of their importance to the life of those around them. Her teacher explained it to us in a beautiful way:

“It’s a tangible expression of your love and pride, as well as ongoing hopes and dreams you have for your child’s future”.

To be honest writing this letter was a little challenging. How often do you write your child a letter of affection and encouragement like this?   Maybe writing “I love you” on a birthday card. But this was different. This was a chance for me to write a considered and warm letter to expresses my unconditional love for her.


The child’s right to speak and be heard


Today is the end of National Children’s Week in Australia which celebrates the right of children to enjoy childhood. The theme this year is ‘The child’s right to speak and be heard’.

During the week I reflected on this as a parent and what the spirit of this means to our family.  I found myself asking the following questions.

  • What is the communication like in our family and with our kids?
  • Do our kids feel safe to talk about their problems and what is important to them?
  • Are we too quick to judge them without making an effort to really understand where they are coming from, what they are thinking?
  • Are we listening to our kids and giving them the chance to get things out?
  • Are we creating a caring, supportive and encouraging environment where it is safe to be vulnerable, to be open?