“That Makes Me Happy!” has really done just that. It has made me happy. Many of you have been asking how things are going with my children’s book. After the book launch, opportunities for volunteering to share my book and teach the lesson it holds fell into place. Volunteering and focusing on my family filled my time and this blog took a back seat. Now it is time to catch up.
My enthusiasm for the science of happiness resulted in writing “That Makes Me Happy!” a story that teaches children they can cultivate their own happiness. At the end of the story children can make a “Happy Ring” to practice the strategies which are deep breaths, smiling, and thinking a happy thought. By reading the story to children, adults can show children we value well-being as much as academics and achievements.
This past school year I volunteered to teach the lesson from my story at my oldest son’s school. As I had read the story in my youngest children’s class the previous school year. His school had a set time every week to bring health and wellness education to their students. Awesome, right? The science behind happiness lesson fit right in. Not ever having taught more than a classroom size of 31 students it was a new experience for me. I was asked to teach the lesson to each grade. There were 100 students in each grade. Keeping a group that size engaged and interested definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone. I wished that I could simply read my story and make “Happy Rings” but that wouldn’t fly with these older students (4th, 5th, and 6th graders).
While creating the lesson, I thought back to what really amazed me in the research. Richard Davidson’s research with His Holiness, the Dalai Lama was top on the list. Richard Davidson’s research focuses on the brain-emotion connection. When the Dalai Lama heard of his research he urged Richard Davidson to study kindness and compassion. “He said: ‘You’ve been using the tools of modern neuroscience to study depression, and anxiety, and fear. Why can’t you use those same tools to study kindness and compassion?’ Data from brain scans of Tibetan monks were studied. The monks observed had a regime of meditating 8 hours a day, some had done so for 20 years. The findings led to the understanding that meditative practices and practicing kindness and compassion result in a brain that is more capable of change, in theory becoming more resilient.
“Rather than think of the brain as a static organ, or one that just degenerates with age, it’s better understood as an organ that is constantly reshaping itself, is being continuously influenced, wittingly or not, by the forces around us.” Richard Davidson
My cousin, Helen, a third-grade teacher was very excited about my story. I offered to read it to her class. In April Saint Joseph’s school welcomed me to share my story with 4 classes, kindergarten, first, second, and third grade! Reading my story, sharing author secrets, and creating “Happy Rings” together created my happy! Seeing the smiles, the interest, receiving inquisitive questions, the excitement about using “Happy Rings” is truly priceless! Thank you to Mrs. Fitzgerald, all the staff and children at Saint Joseph’s school.
My more recent news for “That Makes Me Happy!” is it has traveled overseas! “That Makes Me Happy!” will be read in classrooms in France, India, and possibly Germany!
“That Makes Me Happy!” is doing just that, making me happy. I hope it is making many people happy. In fact if you have read the story and made “Happy Rings” please e-mail me how many children made the “Happy Rings” at: firstname.lastname@example.org. I will be keeping track of how many are made. So far, there have been a little over 100 Happy Rings made. I look forward to seeing that number grow. I am also happy to have taught over 400 children that they can cultivate their own happiness and a few strategies to begin with: deep breaths, smiling often, and thinking happy thoughts.
Did I imagine all this when I took my first “baby step” which was starting this blog? No, I did not. I knew I wanted to share this wonderful information with friends, family, and especially children. I am glad I found a way using many of the strategies I have been writing about!
Thank you all for reading My Happy, you are a big part of this!