What Scientifically Makes Kids Happy, Part 1: Optimism

March 18, 2014 at 11:19 pm , by 

3 years, 4 months.

Dear Jack,

As I was driving you to school one day last week, a lady in an SUV was driving towards us in the opposing lane. I saw her smile at us, just in a friendly way as if to say “good morning” to random strangers, so I smiled back.

But as she got closer to us, I realized she was only squinting at the sun.

It didn’t make a difference though. I had already received a feeling of “the world is a good place” from her because I perceived that another human being was making an attempt to brighten my day.

I think that was around last Thursday- and it’s weird, because since then, I have been making a more conscious effort of being more of a giver and less of a jaded critic… or as Gandhi put it:

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

Yeah, I’ve seriously been trying to do that. I’m beginning to be the guy at work who is going around sincerely asking people how they are doing and asking about what’s new in their lives- with no intention to tell them anything about myself.

I’m remembering to smile even when no one is looking, but especially when people are looking. I’m reminding myself that “being nice” is more than just not being rude; it’s going out of my way to positively affect other people by actions and attitude.

What if I’m the best news that happens to them all day?

Before, I basically just said hi and kept walking.

It just so happens that a few days ago I came across this infographic (featured below) called “The Science Of Raising Happy Kids,” which explains a lot of cool things, some of which I’ll be talking about soon.

As for today, though; one of those things is the importance of a parent being an example of optimism to their kids.

Whether or not you end up having a sunny outlook in life is actually determined in part by how you see me, your parent, react to things beyond my control.


You live with me. In theory, you may even know me better than I know myself.

So you have been a witness to my streaks of pessimism, which can have an effect on you. This is me beginning to make a deliberate effort from here on out to be more optimistic.

Because I’m seeing now it actually matters scientifically, according to the studies this infographic is based on.

I needed to be reminded of that. Perfect timing.

This is me trying to be the change I wish to see in the world. I am more likely to be an example of optimism to you if I’m already that way to everyone else in my life anyway.

So much for the glass being half full. I say, “Hey, it’s totally full.”

It’s full of chocolate almond milk, just the kind you like. Even when you’re being a slightly sneaky little rascal!





To be continued… See Part 2: Less TV Time.


Infographic featured courtesy of Happify:


Read the entire What Makes Kids Scientifically Happy series:

 Part 1: Optimism

 Part 2: Less TV Time

Part 3: Love From Dad


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