Tuesday, February 5, 2008

One Way to Feel Good

When you're recovering from two surgeries in one week, reading is a good thing to do. Right now I'm enjoying Eric Weiner's The Geography of Bliss---

Weiner talks about an experiment in Japan that you could use at home to help your kids be more helpful and happy. Here is what he wrote in his chapter about a visit to one of the unhappiest countries in the world, the former Soviet Republic of Moldova:

What the Moldovans fail to recognize is the power of selfish altruism. It may sound a bit Sunday school-ish, but helping others makes us feel good. Psychologists at Kobe College in Japan proved this. They divided a group of college students into two groups. One group did nothing differently for a week. The other group was asked to count the number of kind acts they performed during that week. They weren't asked to perform any kind acts, merely to take note of them. After a week, this second group reported a marked jump in happiness levels compared to the control group. "Simply by counting the acts of kindness of one week, people become happier and more grateful," concluded the researchers.

So, how to do this at home? Give your kid a 3 by 5 index card, a golf pencil and something to carry these things around in. A pocket would do. No need to make this complicated.

Ask them to tally their acts of kindness. Maybe jot a word about what the act of kindness was: "MTDWStBsct" Review the card each day. Translate. (They emptied the wastebasket.)

If you try this idea, I think you'd find that it's better than a chore list with money paid for each chore done. It'll be less record keeping for you. Cheaper, for sure. And your kids gets things money never bought: inner self worth, satisfaction, occasions to connect deeply with mom and dad, and, yes, happiness.

And practice writing. Your VISA card can't give your kid practice writing.


culmom37 said...

I would like to first say that you are truly missed at school and I am wishing you the best.

What a super article. As I am reading your post I can't help but think how much sense it makes to consciously keep track of acts of kindness. Even for those not writing the moments down on paper, the fact that they make a mental note I believe could have an amazing affect as well. So simple yet so effective...I love it! I know I always feel better when I help people or can bring a smile to their face.

I can appreciate this article for the perspective it gives on how easy it is to be happy...Thank you.

Dan Gurney, Mr. Kindergarten said...

Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed reading this. I'm hoping there are a lot of kindergartners carrying around 3 by 5 cards and noting their acts of kindness.

As for me, I'm still mostly resting and reading and waiting.

I appreciate your wishes very much.