Happiness January 2021
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Middle- January 2021
The Science of happiness
The holidays looked different for many this year as we continued to navigate the challenges of COVID-19 while trying to maintain the happiness and well-being of our families.  

This month’s snapshot focusses on the science of happiness and strategies we can practice to support ourselves and each other.
For decades, the field of psychology has largely focused on addressing the negative—investigating what was "wrong" with us, or relieving suffering from depression, trauma, and addictions. But over the last decade, we've seen a significant shift: Scientists are now turning their attention to what makes people thrive.

That is the focus of the field of positive psychology, or most commonly known as the science of happiness. Its goal is to investigate what makes us flourish, in spite of daily challenges.
The science of happiness doesn't turn a blind eye to suffering or psychological illness, but it does encourage individuals and even communities to adopt practices that can boost optimism, increase resilience, and live happy, engaged lives.
happiness and culture
While happiness exists in all cultures, its meaning and the way it's experienced vary enormously: what makes people happy in one country can be different in another. 

Studies suggest that there are two ways of understanding and experiencing well-being and happiness: the Western and the non-Western way. 

As you read further it is important to remember that neither the concept of happiness nor the factors that contribute to it are absolute or universal. 
the surprising science of happiness
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Dan Gilbert, author of Stumbling on Happiness, challenges the idea that we'll be miserable if we don't get what we want. Our "psychological immune system" lets us feel truly happy even when things don't go as planned.
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What is happiness?
The research suggests that happiness is a combination of how satisfied you are with your life (for example, finding meaning in your work) and how good you feel on a day-to-day basis. Both of these are relatively stable—that is, our life changes, and our mood fluctuates, but our general happiness is more genetically determined than anything else. The good news is, with consistent effort, this can be offset.
So, can we really train ourselves to become happier? The science says yes. Our happiness level is a result of a complex interaction of genes, behaviors, and what's going on in our lives at a specific moment in time. And while each of us has a genetic set point for happiness in the way we do for weight, we have the ability to offset it. 

This brings us to the most important takeaway from the scientific research: You have the power to take control of your happiness by choosing your thoughts, behaviors, and actions. Over time, we can build lasting habits that increase our resilience and improve our happiness levels.

What contributes to Adolescent's happiness
Discovering their strengths
Look for the strengths in your child and nurture them. Their strengths may lie in 
the things they are interested in —music, art, science, building things, cooking, reading;
or any skills they have — painting, playing an instrument, playing a sport
or good qualities — such as kindness, humor, or leadership.

Happiness increases when we discover a strength and practice it. The more we practice a strength, the better we get until we really master it.

When we get really good at doing something we enjoy, we can get lost in it. That's called flow. Experiencing flow helps boost happiness. Supporting your teen to use their strengths is a key ingredient to increase their happiness. 

praise and positive attention
Give your child praise when they behave in ways you want to encourage, like helping out, doing chores or getting homework done. For example, ’I really appreciate it when you put your dirty clothes in the laundry bin‘.

Give your child attention. For example, go to watch them playing sport, send them a friendly text message or just give them a special smile.

healthy lifestyle
Help your child aim for at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day. Physical activity increases endorphins, dopamine, adrenaline and endocannabinoid -- these are all brain chemicals associated with feeling happy, feeling confident, feeling capable, feeling less anxiety and stress and even less physical pain.
Encourage healthy sleep habits. According to studies the strongest correlation with happiness is sleep!! Teenagers need about 8-10 hours of sleep each night. Teens who say they get more than seven hours of sleep on most nights report being happier. This makes sense as sleep deprivation is a major risk factor for both physical and mental health issues. Unfortunately, today's teens sleep less than teens once did, possibly due to spending more time on their phones and other devices. 
Encourage your child to make healthy food choices to fuel their growth, development and happiness. Researchers found that people who switched from eating almost no fruit and vegetables in their daily diets to eating eight portions of fruit and vegetables a day experienced an increase in life satisfaction (with all other factors accounted for).

Studies have suggested that an increased intake of vitamin B12, present in fruits and vegetables, may boost a neurotransmitter in the brain called serotonin, which plays a role in regulating mood.
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balance is the new happy
Help your child keep a healthy balance between study, work and play. This might mean looking at how many nights your child is out doing things, how much down time they have, how much they can contribute to family life through chores or how many family meals you have together. 

Happiness comes from the sum of everyday experiences as well as a balance between our physical and mental states. Keep in mind that both influence each other continuously. In other words our health conditions influence our everyday thoughts, feelings, and behaviours and vice versa.
Life Balance Challenge - In the next 7 days, take notice how many hours your teen dedicates to sleeping, healthy eating, exercising, meaningful hobbies and enjoying the company of people they care about. Then, take a few minutes to reflect on it and you may be surprised!




Connection with real people
A self reported survey for grade 8 and grade 10 students  found activities that involve being with other people were the most strongly correlated with happiness, and those that involve being alone were the most strongly correlated with unhappiness. They also determined that every screen activity was correlated with less happiness, and every non-screen activity was correlated with more happiness. 
Monitoring for the Future Survey
Family relationships
Studies show that the link between family and happiness extends beyond money or possessions. Researchers followed hundreds of families for a decade and found that the quality of family bonds mattered more to overall happiness than income.

According to psychologists, belonging is a primal need, and meeting this need through family relationships helps teens to be more resilient and happier.
Share and make memories together. For example, take photos or videos on special family days or at school events and look over them with your child, or talk about and remember things you’ve enjoyed as a family.

Make time to talk about individual and family successes. For example, you could try going around the table at family meals and giving everyone a turn at sharing something that went well for them during the day.

Establish and maintain family rituals. For example, cook pancakes on Saturday morning, watch special movies together, go for milkshakes on Friday night. 




being kind
Studies show that adolescents who identify their primary motive as helping others are three times happier than those who lack such altruistic motivation. 

It's proven that kindness and giving act like a natural anti-depressant because they release serotonin in the brain. Serotonin plays an important part in learning, memory, mood, sleep, health and digestion. It provides individuals with a heightened sense of well-being, increases energy and gives wonderful feelings of positivity and self worth and happiness.




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Poster Contest
The poster contest below has been distributed to all of our schools. However if your child's school/class is not participating in the contest they may produce a poster at home and submit to win the same prizes! Posters will be chosen from elementary, middle and secondary.
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January middle school posters
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Several copies of this poster have been delivered to all middle schools for student learning. 

The goal is to remind students that we all have the capacity to be kind and that kindness has the ability to make both the giver and receiver happier!




child And Youth Mental Health during a Pandemic
Calling parents and youth in BC!  The MyHEARTSMAP team needs your help to measure how much and in what ways the changes in our lives during the pandemic have affected the social and psychological wellness of our children and youth.  Learning about our children's needs will help guide our provincial mental health resource planning. CLICK HERE to read more or participate in the study.
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most read snapshot of 2020
What do you think was the most popular Snapshot of 2020?

A. We Stand United Against Racism
B. Mental Health and COVID-19
C. Fostering Positive Family Communication
D. Returning to School

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sources and resources
Read previous Snapshots here!
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