It is often said that every cloud has a silver lining. Being able to see that silver lining can give us strength and help us weather the most difficult situations. But it may do even more for us than that. Happiness may also bring us good health. A 2006 study by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University found that people who described themselves as lively, happy, and calm were more likely to resist colds and the flu after being exposed to viruses. But the benefits may not stop there—a 2007 Norwegian study found that people with a good sense of humor are more likely to live longer than their grim counterparts. Helping our children find the joy in life’s everyday struggles is a skill that will benefit them for years to come.
River otters were once found throughout much of North America, from Canada through the United States. They live near rivers, lakes, and swamps. Otters have long, streamlined bodies with tapering tails and short legs with webbed feet. They can close their nostrils underwater, allowing them to swim longer, up to four minutes underwater. Otters often take part in playful activity and even appear joyful as they slide through the snow, do belly flops and somersaults, and wrestle together. You can get an up-close look at river otters at the Oklahoma City Zoo’s Oklahoma Trails exhibit.
I Will Statements
- Look for good in all things.
- Smile at adversity.
- Not give in to discouragement.
- No allow my emotions to rule my mind.
- Take time out of every day to laugh and to sing.
Make a gratitude journal. Taking time to list the things that make our life worth living is a sure way to brighten even the worst day. Depending on the skill level of your child, this project can be very simple or extremely complex. Start by talking about the things that make your child happy or bring them joy. If your child is old enough to write, encourage them to list these things, maybe on special paper that suits their personality. If your child is not old enough to write, they could draw pictures representing the things that bring them joy. Some children might want to make a collage of images, either cut from magazines or pictures they have taken themselves. The form of this gratitude journal can be as unique and individual as your child.
Start a dinner table discussion. As a way to spark conversations with your child, ask them, “what was the best thing that happened to you today?” By asking this question, you will help them focus on the positive events of their day. This may make it easier to realize that we all have something to be joyful about, every day.
Read about Joyfulness
- Taking a Bath With the Dog and Other Things that Make Me Happy by Scott Menchin is a lighthearted look at turning a frown upside down. Sweet Pea asks those around her what makes them happy and by the end of the book, she has a long list of things that make her happy too.
- The Joy Diet: 10 Daily Practices for a Happier Life by Martha Beck is a guidebook for adults looking to add more optimism. Beck walks readers through daily steps aimed at making us more thoughtful and appreciative of what we have.