Monday, 8 May 2017

Thoughts on our happiness

David enjoying the grass

I tend to consider the realities of headlines. 'Pushy-parents' and 'Super-parents' both headlined in the news in the last year around special educational needs.  Both terms are prime examples of how carefully I consider what's really being reported.  So when I saw a recent set of headlines about how our children are now to have 'happiness classes', I naturally raised an eyebrow before reading.

Of course, it was actually an article about offering mental health training to children in schools. Perhaps this is a good thing. There are an estimated 10% of children that have a diagnosed mental health condition in the U.K. The Children's Society say that girls are particularly affected, citing peer pressure and, rather worryingly, a dissatisfaction with their own looks as key issues.

Lord Layard, who is a government adviser for this current mental health training in schools (a four-year trial of weekly mindfulness classes in 26 schools) said there was an obsession with measuring only academic achievement in schools.  A thought in some ways echoed by Dr Brian Cox in the news too.  The famous TV science presenter recently suggested that science should be a joy, an exploration and back to the idea of learning through play, often a way of experimentation. Not simply about passing tests.

The pressure of raising both happy and successful kids feels truly enormous.  I think much of the time the two terms are used interchangeably or considered a prerequisite for the other.  You can't be a success if you're not happy, and you can't be happy unless you are successful?   Do I teach my kids this?

I myself fall into the trap of connecting success, and possibly happiness, with financial value.

I'm a busy person.  Our home, and our three children with their different needs and different schools keep me busy.  I fit in some charity work and of course there's the blog.. but I also still do a small amount of part-time teaching. Partly this is because I enjoy it and I feel more like ' just me' but there's a small part that's linked to the fact that it's one thing I do that brings in actual money.  It brings my negative financial contribution to the household up a bit.  The truth is my contribution to the home and the children has very little to do with my part time earnings.

My value and indeed my happiness should not just be tied to my earnings.

Just as a young girls happiness should not be directly tied to her looks or a child's directly related to their test results.  Of course everyone wants to accepted and do well but these are effectively self or society determined criteria for happiness.

Sometimes the happiest person in our home is David, our autistic son, who without wanting to limit my aspirations for his future, arguably is most challenged in terms of his acceptance and learning.

And that's because he takes infinite joy from his current situation.  I'm in the car - yay! I'm on the trampoline - yay! I'm on really warm grass - yay! I'm collecting tokens at school so I can play with the iPad - yay! In a way his outlook is quite inspiring.  I think it's possible he's a pretty good example of a happiness class all by himself and one I should adopt more often, if not for me, then for the example it sets for my kids.

As Tolstoy said "If you want to be happy, be"

What do you think?  What makes you happy?


Linked on:
Real Mum Reviews . Absolutely Prabulous

31 comments:

  1. I think you are right. I often look at the delight my youngest finds in the simplest of things - the flight of a bird, the bark of a dog, the feel of watermelon in his fingers - and wonder at which point does that stop. At which point does our happiness become about long term unattainable goals rather than about the moment. As adults I often think we have a lot to learn #PostsFromTheHeart

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  2. It's an interesting subject - the pursuit of happiness! I often think that the innocence of children can teach us so much, whether they're autistic or not. How often have I dragged the girls off out to a group because I think it's best for them, when actually, they are just as happy, if not more, at home with their toys, each other and a bit of TV! As parents we put so much pressure on ourselves to do the right thing all the time, it's easy to forget that kids love a bit of stability, time to rest, and their home comforts.
    #MarvMondays

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  3. I've learnt over the years that happiness is the goal. It doesn't matter what you do for a living or how much money you earn as long as you're happy. I teach my kids exactly this...they should aim for the stars but if they achieve their dream and it doesn't make them happy then they need to find something that does.

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  4. Love this - that your worth is so much more than the hard cash. So true for most of us, in fact. Happiness is a state of mind, some struggle more to find it and need a little extra help x

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  5. I don't think money makes you completely happy, I mean it helps, but it is not everything. My family is what really makes me happy.
    #TriumphantTales

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  6. we have a Minister of Happiness here in Dubai and the government departments for customer care have renamed themselves as Happiness Centres, the trouble is, if you're not happy there's little much anyone can do

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  7. Little ones are great teachers. #MarvMondays

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  8. Yes, I think David has it right. It's a tricky balance when I talk about school with my daughter, as of course I want her to do well, but actually I want her to be happy there far more, without in anyway being dismissive of her academic achievements - as I say, it's tricky! Thanks for sharing with #WotW

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  9. David sounds like he practises mindfulness effortlessly and effectively. Yes, we can learn a lot from that. We changed secondary school after year 7, and I cannot begin to tell you what a difference in the two school's approaches had on my eldest. She went from being a grade to a name. From being rewarded for attainment to being rewarding for effort. It's funny how such a seemingly small difference can have such a huge effect. I'd say she is happier and her grades are high. #wotw

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  10. I'm at my happiest when my little man is happy. The look on his face when he is excited about something just makes my day. Thanks so much for linking up to #TriumphantTales, we'd love to have you back next week :)

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  11. what makes me happy is knowing i don't have to sort anything out, meaning that none of my family are coming to me to ask for help (they ALL do) it means everyone is happy and means i relax which makes me happy. In Dubai they have renamed customer service centres as happiness centres and it makes me smile every time i have to go in. #spectrumsunday

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  12. aww David's attitude is one we really should all adopt. There is so much emphasise on success but success should be taught to be in the eye of the beholder. For me I feel successful. Yes I have debt, yes i have PND. But i have a loving husband, a child and two cats who adore me. For me that is a successful life and anymore is an added bonus!
    Thank you for sharing this with us at #TriumphantTales. I hope to see you back on Tuesday

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  13. I could easily start a rant here about how the current government has convinced everyone that a person's only worth comes from their salary (if an adult) or their grades (if a child). Kindness, happiness...they don't matter.

    Anyway, what I'm trying to say is I completely agree with you. I'd rather my kids were happy than 'successful' in monetary terms.

    #SpectrumSunday

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  14. I love mindfulness, I do practice it, but sometimes I still do really struggle. This post is a lovely reminder to accept ourselves and see the joy in each moment x #candidcuddles

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  15. I think David has the right idea. Happiness for me is often about being in the moment and appreciating it. I like the sound of mindfulness classes in schools. I've heard from other heart parents that they've helped with their children's anxiety. I have tried mindfulness a couple of times and have found it helpful but it's not something I remember to do very often! #WotW

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  16. The happiest person BY FAR in our house is our autistic son. I'm autistic too but I'm a miserable sod lol. I'm learning so much from him. X

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  17. This is a really thought-provoking post. It;s so hard to get success and happiness mixed up or money and happiness. I love the thought of your son being happy wherever he is and being totally present - a great motivation to stop overthinking and just start enjoying #brillblogposts

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  18. I choose HAPPINESS as the core measure for my autistic 11 yo daughter. All of my home education centers around this principal. For the simple reason that I have seen too many people push or be pushed for success all their lives to be unhappy even once they attained all their goals in life. I believe that it is impossible to unsuccessful if you are happy. Now how you define success may not correspond to someone else's definition but I believe you will find it for you.

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  19. Fab post. I'm most happy when people surprise me with unexpected gestures of kindness. Also watching my little boy, grow and develop into a fab little person. He amazes me and makes me smile with happiness every day. Love your quote.

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  20. I would love it if we had mindfulness training in our school. My kids really need it, but it's so hard to get them to sit still for it at home. At least in school, they're already focusing on the lesson. Great post! #coolmumclub

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  21. There are so many external influences on our kids as to what drives happiness...Tigs was asking me yesterday what things I would like if I could have anything in the whole world. She couldn't seem to understand when I said I just wanted time with her, her sister and her Daddy someplace nice and all together. It's an important lesson to teach them, I think?
    At parents evening last night I spoke to the teacher about how heavy the homework seemed to be for reception...maybe they need a little happiness based project ;-)
    Thanks so much for sharing with #coolmumclub

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  22. Yep as the quote goes, happiness is a choice. It may sound simplistic because obviously there are those who've had such a hideous life that happiness is almost impossible. But I do believe it comes - well should come - from within rather being determined by society etc Easier said than done! Thanks for joining #candidcuddles

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  23. I think in the western world we've lost site of what makes you happy, so we're chasing an elusive happiness because were chasing fools gold. I've written about happiness a bit on my blog and on http://myinspiredlife.com.au. I think if we really look at the moment we're in, rather than thinking where we need to be, and if we help others, instead of focusing on our own needs, extend kindness and so on, our natural state of happiness is easier to achieve #KCACOLS

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  24. An interesting observation - the one living each individual moment, without worry about whats next, is the happiest. Probably a good lesson here for all of us #brilliantblogposts

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  25. What an interesting read. I absolutely agree that if you want to be happy, then you have to just be. It's all about the little and often very simple things. #DreamTeam

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  26. An interesting perspective. I'm starting to realise that happiness is a lot more complex than I ever though before.
    Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back again next time.

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  27. I love this post! You're son has it right - finding joy in the moment you're in is what happiness is all about. I think mindfulness or meditation in schools is a fantastic idea and helps kids in all sorts of ways. All the focus on academic or economic success is meaningless without emotional success or wellbeing. #KCACOLS

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  28. Yay to mindfulness being taught at schools! Overall wellbeing is just as important as academic success. For me happiness is about enjoying the small things in life and my little family. #KCACOLS

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  29. What an interesting post. I think we could take a leaf out of your son's book. there is happiness and joy to be found everywhere but somehow we confuse it with other things and believe we can't be happy without those things #kcacols

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