Martin Seligman, in his book, Authentic Happiness, writes about the factors that help people stay mostly positive, despite negative circumstances, and come to define their lives as “happy.” One explanation he offers is: “The good life consists in deriving happiness by using your signature strengths every day in the main realms of living. The meaningful life adds one more component: using these same strengths to forward knowledge, power or goodness. A life that does that is pregnant with meaning.”
And in her book, Really Seeing Children, Deb Curtis offers an idea of how we might learn from children to become more authentically happy. She writes: “It’s no wonder children laugh so often – they have been in the world such a short time and to them almost everything is unexpected, unusual and unconventional. Adults can learn to laugh with children if we slow down and marvel with them at the wondrous world they see. Humor reflects children’s growing understanding of the world around them. Yet, what I notice more is the social nature of humor. Laughing brings more laughing and often children will laugh with eager anticipation of others joining in. I believe that beyond the learning reflected in humor there is a deep sense of satisfaction that comes from sharing these moments with each other.”
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Through her collection of stories and photographs, learn to suspend your adult agenda to really see children's perspectives and the amazing ways they experience the world. Taking up this practice will bring joy and deeper understanding to your work and life and allow you to engage with children in a more meaningful teaching and learning process.
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I love the sentiment of this idea of sharing laughter and happiness based upon seeing and appreciating novelty. In my own work on spiritual development of children I talk about the RECRIPRICAL BABY STARE. You know the look an infant gives to their loved person...the person who is loving them and caring for them.... the person with whom they are forming an attachment required for healthy human development. You all know what I am talking about. Well, that look helps an infant to begin the realization of a positive sense of self. In other words, that person is looking at something/someone and that someone is “ME.” And, simultaneously, if we open ourselves up, that infant can awaken in us our sense of wonder and awe - all part of our own spiritual self. Spiritual development is a powerful connecter. It puts us in touch with our inner feelings and needs, opens us up to relationships with others and the earth, and provides a healing presence through mindfulness. It should not be forgotten.