Tag Archives: Science of Happiness

Five Ways to Make Your Teen Happier (Mike Ferry)

As author Mike Ferry points out, adolescents today experience alarming rates of depression and stress. He shares five ways parents can help their teen be happier. We present, “Five Ways to Make Your Teen Happier.”

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Five Ways to Make Your Teen Happier (Mike Ferry)Pimples. Hormonal changes. Emotional extremes. Argumentativeness. Romantic relationships. If you have an adolescent son or daughter, you may be living through these and other aspects of the teen years. It’s a period of great upheaval, for kids and parents (not to mention the teachers who never escape the drama of middle and high school).

Stress, anxiety and depression

Adolescence has always been hard, but today’s teens are having an especially difficult time. For a variety of reasons, teens are suffering from higher rates of stress, anxiety, and depression than ever before. Consider this statistic:

17% of high school students seriously consider suicide (22.4% of girls)

That’s unbelievable! Unfortunately, the trend continues into the college years:

54% of college students have extreme anxiety
30% of college students suffer from severe depression

As parents, there are some strategies we can employ to help our teenage children endure this rough patch and emerge stronger in young adulthood. We can practice these “protective factors” at home to boost our kids’ emotional immune systems.

Five Things Parents Can Do

Here are five ways to make teens happier and to promote long-term positive mental health.

Teaching Happiness and Innovation, Mike Ferry(1) Have a consistent home or family routine. I know how tough this can be. My wife and I have four kids; managing their sports schedules and social calendars seems harder than running a federal agency. If possible, try to have at least one family meal per week. You could also plan a family game night once a month and make it clear that nothing will take priority over it.

(2) Promote healthy habits. Our physical health impacts our emotional health. Encourage plenty of exercise and a healthy diet. Sleep is often sacrificed due to homework and hanging out with friends, but it is an essential aspect of sound mental health. Do all you can to help your teen get at least eight or nine hours of sleep every night.

(3) Practice spirituality. Teens are trying to figure out who they are and how they fit into the world. Spirituality offers emotional support and guidance, in addition to a sense of purpose. If your family actively practices religion, help your teen grow in the faith by attending services on a regular basis. Getting involved with your religious community’s youth group strengthens social bonds and creates shared experiences that can sustain your teen in difficult times.

(4) Boost confidence. Many teens suffer from negative self-esteem. This may result from poor body image, stressful social interactions, or feeling inadequate in some way. You can help your teen feel more confident by celebrating his or her victories, large and small. Show your teen that effort leads to results, and that he or she has the power to achieve success in a variety of areas. For more ideas, you can check out my blog post on ways to develop a growth mindset in your child.

(5) Know what’s going on. Monitor your teen’s activities, both in the “real world” and online. Take a peek every now and then at your son or daughter’s social media profiles. Invite your teen’s friends to your house to hang out. Stay in touch with how your child is doing at school and beyond. Often, troubling emotional situations can be avoided by proactive and positive parenting.

Hang in there, parents of teens! It’s a wild and unpredictable ride, but it will be over before you know it. Your child will grow up and leave the nest (hopefully) with the tools needed for academic and personal success. With a great deal of patience and care, we can get our teens on track for stronger mental health in the present and down the road. If you’re interested in learning more ways to guide your teenage child through this tumultuous time, you may want to check out my online course, “The Parent’s Guide To Surviving Adolescence.”

Mike Ferry is the author of Teaching Happiness and Innovation. A middle school history teacher in Richmond, VA, Mike is raising four (mostly happy) children with his wife, Jenny. For more information about teaching happiness to children, visit www.happinessandinnovation.com. Twitter @MikeFerry7

 

Seven Ways of Teaching Happiness to Your Kids (Mike Ferry)

Happiness is the “Holy Grail” of parenting. While all of us want our kids to be happy and successful in life, we may not know exactly how to achieve this goal. Fortunately, the “science of happiness” can show us the way to teaching happiness.

teaching happiness, science of happinessYears of research have revealed certain habits and beliefs that make us happier, more creative, and more effective in everything we do. Rather than waiting and hoping that emotional well-being will descend from the heavens, we can show our children how to forge happy lives.

Since learning about this branch of psychology, I have been on a mission to share this knowledge with parents. I wrote a book, Teaching Happiness and Innovation, to help parents identify the habits of happiness and teach them to their kids. We are all thirsting for guidance in this department, and I hope that my efforts make a difference.

teaching happiness, science of happinessI’d like to give you seven ways to point your children towards lives of joy and meaning. These ideas come from my free 21-day “Happy Family” challenge. As is the case in other areas of life, practice makes perfect if you want to form the habits of happiness!

1. Write down the names of three people, places, or things you are grateful for. If you want to learn more about the importance of gratitude, please sign up for my email list. As a thank-you gift, you can download the “Gratitude” chapter from my book for free.

2. Spend some time in quiet prayer or meditation. Nurturing our spirituality is an important aspect of happiness.

3. We feel better when we are creative and thoughtful. Create and send a homemade card to Grandma, Grandpa, or another special person in your family’s life.

4. Challenge yourself to learn something new. Do you know the countries of Europe? If not, start learning them here.

5. Combine these five words to form a short story. If your story is hilarious and unrealistic, that’s just fine.

Miami
Santa
Banana
Anteater
Wagon

6. Think about a time when someone was kind to you. Give yourself a quiet space to reflect on this happy memory.

7. Bake cookies for a neighbor. When you deliver them, talk about the fun you’ve been having with the “Happy Family” challenge! Maybe your neighbor will enjoy the experience as well.###

Mike Ferry is the author of Teaching Happiness and Innovation. A middle school history teacher in Richmond, VA, Mike is raising four (mostly happy) children with his wife, Jenny. For more information about teaching happiness to children, visit www.happinessandinnovation.com. Twitter @MikeFerry7

The Science of Happiness and Our Kids (Mike Ferry)

BTSpotlightMike Ferry, author of Teaching Happiness and Innovation, was interviewed on The Changing Behavior Network (posted on July 12, 2015). We caught up with Mike to see if we could learn a bit more him and his work.

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Tell us a bit about your background, Mike.

Mike Ferry photo 3This school year (2015-2016) is my thirteenth year as a middle school history teacher at Collegiate School in Richmond, Virginia. My college sweetheart and I have four kids, three boys and a girl. We drive a very loud minivan! I’m also a musician and songwriter.

A few years ago, I learned about the Science of Happiness at an education conference. It had a powerful effect on my perspectives related to teaching and parenting. The experience led me to write my book, Teaching Happiness and Innovation.

Why did you write this book?

THAIBookCoverAs a teacher and parent, I want to help kids design the best possible future, one that is safer, more prosperous, and more sustainable than our current world. If we teach kids the habits of happiness and innovation, we’ll help them get there.

Research has shown that happy people tend to be successful in all walks of life. We can help our kids learn and practice the habits of happiness. As a result, they will be more successful in school, at work, and in other domains. Also, our country and planet need big ideas. After learning the skills of innovation, our kids will create the new businesses, works of art, technologies, and public policy solutions that will increase employment and improve our quality of life.

What habits of happiness should we be teaching our kids?

Well, it’s important to realize that our brains become most adept at doing whatever tasks we perform most often. In other words, practice makes perfect. If we want our kids to become happier, then we should help them identify and repeat behaviors that are associated with happiness.

These three habits comprise a good starting point: gratitude, kindness, and creativity. In our homes and classrooms, we will make great strides toward a happier future if we encourage children to practice these behaviors as often as possible.

How can we learn more ideas related to teaching happiness and innovation?

I have many helpful articles and insights on my blog and on the Teaching Happiness and Innovation Podcast. You can find these on my website, www.happinessandinnovation.com. Also, if you sign up for my monthly email list, you can download a free chapter from my book.

If you go to the “Mike’s Tunes” page on my website, you’ll find many of my original musical compositions. You can download my songs for free. In exchange, all I ask is that you perform an act of kindness for someone. ###

Mike Ferry is a teacher, father, author, and musician based in Richmond, Virginia. He can be reached at mike@happinessandinnovation.com. (website)

The Science of Happiness & Positive Family Psychotherapy (An Interview with Dr. Daniel Trussell)

BTSpotlight

The Changing Behavior Network caught up with Dr. Daniel Trussell to ask him about his very successful approach to family therapy. Here is what he shared with us.

Daniel, you practice positive psychotherapy and positive family psychotherapy. How is that different from traditional forms of psychotherapy?

Rather than looking at the pathology of the family and treating symptoms like behavior or attitude problems, the focus in on teaching the activities and behaviors that flourishing families exhibit. This changes the family dynamic and reduces the likelihood of future mental health problems.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo, is positive family therapy your invention?

Not at all. All the work I do is scientifically based on leading academic research found in the discipline of Positive Psychology – the Science of Happiness.

You practiced within a CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) model before shifting to Positive Psychology. Why did that happen?

I still find a lot of value in using interventions embedded in cognitive behavioral therapy and DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) as well. But over time I saw the limitations of CBT. A lot of my work has to do with attachment, family system dynamics and increasing family life satisfaction. I understood the importance of including a richer therapeutic experience than just diagnosis, symptom management and support to maintain treatment compliance if I wanted to help a family acquire the skill set to build resiliency, improve well-being, support self-determination and reduce tension.

What is the focus of positive family psychotherapy?

The Science of Happiness demonstrates that those who report optimal well-being and highest life satisfaction share common characteristics. Seligman found that optimal well-being only occurs when there are an abundance of positive emotions, engagement, positive relationships, meaning and purpose and accomplishment. Langer determined that people with highest life satisfaction share the traits of being generous, loving, authentic, direct and open to new experience. Emmons et al show the health benefits from expressing gratitude. Altogether there are eight primary themes in positive psychotherapy.

What is a typical course of treatment in positive family psychotherapy?

First I help the family identify the activities that support optimal family functioning and those that cause the family to flounder. Next, we explore parental expectations and family attitudes along multiple dimensions and push aside barriers that keep the family from functioning well. This requires careful negotiation from each family member. Typically this includes an analysis of family rules, consequences for not following the rules, tasks that each member routinely performs to maintain household harmony and a reward system for successful outcomes. We look at how each individual’s unique strengths contribute to healthy family functioning and insure that activities are set up so each family member thrives.

How can our readership learn more about the Science of Happiness and positive family psychotherapy?

UC – Berkeley provides a fantastic free online course on the Science of happiness. You can go to www.EdX.org to register for this self-paced course. You might also want to pick of a copy of the How Families Flourish Workbook by Daniel Trussell for step-by-step instructions on optimizing family functioning.

Dr. Daniel Trussell can be reached at drdanieltrussell@gmail.com for more information on positive family psychotherapy. [website]
To access Dr. Trussell’s radio-style interviews and articles on The Changing Behavior Network, use the search box on the right, typing in “Dr. Daniel Trussell.”