Summer is here, and the year is winding down. This will be my last column
of the school year and I want to thank Dr. Linsey Gotanda and the principals
of each school for letting me share my thoughts with you. I also want
to thank all of you for your wonderful and insightful comments and suggestions.
I hope I have provided you with some knowledge and information of drug
and alcohol use, depression, anxiety, vaping, relationships, cutting,
suicide, marijuana, video gaming and more. I hope that some of the parenting
suggestions including communication skills, validation of feelings, modeling,
limit and boundary setting, teaching delayed gratification, prioritizing
problems and learning how not to take all the blame has been useful.
The science of psychology is relatively new, with most of the work coming
within the last 100 years. Psychology began with the understanding of,
and treatment of, mental and behavioral problems like depression, anxiety
and psychosis. Most of the work was trying to get “sick people”
well. There has, however, been a shift in the last twenty years, and psychology
has been exploring what makes “well” people achieve an even
greater sense of contentment. The study of positive psychology has led
to the psychology of Happiness, and I’d like to prepare you for
your summer vacation with some suggestions for increasing wellness and
happiness. Here are the Seven Habits of Happy People.
1. Relationships. People who have close friendships are happier. It is not about the quantity
of connections, but the quality, and the ability to share, be open and
connect with others
2. Acts of Kindness. Happiness correlates with giving of oneself to others. This can be in
volunteer work, or actively showing concern for others. Those who give
to others have much lower levels of depression.
3. Exercise and Physical Well Being. Exercise and healthy living habits (e.g., good diet, no smoking, minimal
or no alcohol) lead to improved well-being and less depression and anxiety.
Some studies show that exercise has more impact on avoiding depression
than does medication.
4. Live in the Moment. When you are engaged and involved in an activity, you lose sense of time.
Perhaps you have had the experience where you are doing something, look
up, and notice that hours have gone by. This is called Flow, and achieving
a state of Flow is connected to joyfulness. Read Flow, by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi,
for more insight.
5. Spirituality. Research indicates that when we can find a greater meaning in life, through
spirituality or religion, and when we understand the world as bigger than
our own experiences, we can often find a deeper level of happiness.
6. Use your Strengths. Martin Seligman, the father of Positive Psychology, has found that the
happiest people are those who have recognized their unique strengths and
virtues, concurrently using those for a purpose greater than their own
7. Experiencing Gratitude. There has been a great amount of research showing that those who can
feel grateful for what they have, and who can acknowledge and recognize
what they have to be grateful for, have much higher levels of positive
emotions. I often work with people on having a daily gratitude check list
and reminding themselves of all the good in their lives.
I encourage you and your children to practice these seven habits of happiness,
then watch your sense of well-being grow. Have a great summer.
Remember, if you have issues you would like to see addressed, please email me at
Moe Gelbart, Ph.D.
Executive Director, Thelma McMillen Center