YOUR FAMILY TREASURE BOX
It’s important to acknowledge that the goal isn’t perpetual happiness – family life is a rich tapestry of all emotions. Here, Suzy Reading empowers you with simple practices that will
Ehelp shift the collective mood and lift everyone’s spirits
VERY FAMILY NEEDS A “Happiness Treasure Box” to dip into when life gets tough, tempers flare, boredom descends or just when there is time to fill. Talking about what goes into your treasure box is a joyful conversation in itself and when you have written down lots of different options you will have inspiration at your fingertips whenever you need it. Make a drawing together of all the things in your treasure box and stick it on the refrigerator for easy reference. The concept of having a treasure box is powerful because it teaches your children that happiness is not just one person, place, activity or thing, it is many. If one becomes inaccessible, you can dip into your other sources of happiness.
HAPPINESS-BOOSTING SKILLS Cultivate these skills in your children by role-modelling them, talking about them, rewarding them and building them into your rituals and core values. These skills will help you and your children see life through a fresh lens, one that promotes individual and collective well-being.
• Savouring. This is my all-time favourite self-care tip. It takes no real energy, effort or time and it is so powerful! Savouring is the ability to be really present to pleasurable experiences. I describe it as enjoying the joyful moments of life. Build your savouring muscle by noticing moments of peace and delight, don’t waste them by dividing your attention or letting your inner chatter sabotage them. You can savour the past by reminiscing about happy memories. You can savour the present by giving this moment your full attention and using all your senses to amplify the feelings of joy. You can savour the future by anticipating events to come. Teach your kids this art and they will have access to happiness in any moment. Savour with your kids and you’ll have many treasured moments bonding you together.
• Kindness and compassion. A giant dollop of kindness and compassion transforms the most challenging of times. Feeling a sense of shared humanity is a cornerstone of collective well-being. Being of service to others deepens our bonds, roots us firmly in perspective, seeing clearly those that have less than us, and boosts both mood and self-esteem. Seeking kinder attributions for the behaviour of others gives us greater flexibility in how we respond to them. Look for ways to be kind to others and see how this transforms your day. Extending those same feelings toward ourselves alleviates internal pressure and lifts negativity. To tap into compassion for older children, share with them the concept of the “inner elder”. Move over inner critic, let the inner elder have the microphone. Your inner elder is ready and waiting to offer kind words of support, empathy and encouragement. This can either be their future grey-haired self, or an internalized voice of someone trusted, such as a grandparent. In moments of struggle and self-criticism, ask them to stop and tune in to what their inner elder would have to say.
• Teach your children about the power of their words. What they say about themselves out loud and their inner dialogue is important. It’s an error to think that being hard on ourselves creates a better outcome – kindness, in my experience, always coaxes a better, more life giving result. Often our children’s inner dialogue is created by the voices of their parents. Be mindful of what you role-model as an individual here and be conscious of shaping their actions with kind words. Of course there is room for evaluation of behaviour but done with tenderness and restraint. To shape kinder inner dialogue, use the mantra: “Only talk to yourself as you would your best friend”. If it’s not right for your best buddy, it’s not right for you either. Gently reframe what you’ve said and feel the difference it makes. There
OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2019 thegreenparent.co.uk