Happiness is a Skill

I have been reading a book by Christine Carter called Raising Happiness, and it is so interesting! Christine is a scientist who studies what makes people happy.

Right now I am reading a chapter on mindfulness--which is basically being attentive and aware of what is happening right now. It is sort of the opposite of being on autopilot. Being on autopilot is like when you drive home from somewhere, and all of a sudden you are home & you don't really remember the actual drive, where as mindfulness is when you actually experience the drive--you noticed the landscape and the houses, and thought about where you were going and how you were going to get there, etc.

I have a really hard time being mindful it turns out! I don't know when it started, or if I've always been like this, but it has definitely gotten worse since I've had kids. I have the hardest time just sitting down and playing legos for example...my mind wanders and I think about the dishes that need to be done, or a conversation that I had with someone, or what all I need to do still for a project that I am working on. So much is going on in my mind that I am not even paying attention to the legos or what the kids are talking about, or anything like that. And I think I'm missing out on a lot that way.

Christine says that, "Practicing mindfulness doesn't just lead to decreased stress and increased pleasure in parenting, it brings profound benefits to kids. Parents who practiced mindful parenting for a year were dramatically more satisfied with their parenting skills and their interactions with their children, even though no new parenting practices beyond just being mindful had been taught to them."

So...that's really neat! That is something I can work on, I think!

4 Response to "Happiness is a Skill"

  1. The Graff Fam Says:

    A friend of mine has a quote on her fb page that reminds me of this. "In family life, be completely present." Every time I read it I get a little stab of guilt because I definitely suffer from autopilot syndrome.

  2. reedsandstrings Says:

    Is the book yours? If it is, can I borrow it when you're done? If not, I'll have to try to get it out of the library, if it's ever available. I've been thinking I should read it for a while, and the fact that you're reading it is just one more reminder.

  3. Mommykendra Says:

    I'm definately guilty of autopilot, especially with the kids and Jon. It's really something I need to work on.

  4. valandshawn Says:

    Julie--it is mine! you can definitely borrow it when i'm done!

    Nikki--that is a really good quote!

    Another thing that Christine mentions is that guilt can paralyze you from making changes. Instead of beating yourself up about areas you want to change, you can try to make a nonjudgmental observation about it: "I've been on autopilot all day." It kind of frees you up to change directions.

    I think this might be a Biblical concept, though! Romans 8:1--There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (or something like that). Which is right after Paul's "I do what I do not want to do speech." I think maybe since Christ doesn't condemn us, we shouldn't condemn ourselves either.

    We don't have to feel guilty--we just need to acknowledge what we are doing, and remind ourselves what we want to be doing instead.

    Kendra--that's funny that you mention being on autopilot with Jon, because right after I read the chapter on mindfulness, Shawn was trying to tell me about his day, and i started checking my email while he was talking. lol! i heard myself saying, "yeah? uh-huh. wow." etc. And i totally wasn't listening at all! I snapped out of it after a couple minutes when I realized I was on autopilot! I think half the battle is just realizing that you are doing it.

    love ya,
    val