6 skills of happiness help teens live a more positive life


(BPT) - How would you describe happiness? You may have trouble putting it into words, but you know you want it for yourself and your loved ones. One thing that's harder than describing it for many people is knowing how to achieve it.

Researchers studying social emotional well-being define happiness as a balance: the combination of how frequent and robust your positive emotional experiences are, how gracefully you recover from difficult experiences, and how meaningful and worthwhile you feel your life is overall.

"Happiness is the ability to consistently recognize that life is good, even if it's difficult," says Dr. Emiliana Simon-Thomas, Ph.D., science director of the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California Berkeley. "It's being able to identify and enjoy the positive times but also have resiliency to bounce back from the hard times."

This is particularly important for youth. Research shows two out of three American teens are stressed and many don't know how to cope. When school is in session, teens are the most stressed group in the country. The inability to reduce and cope with stress and anxiety can negatively impact different facets of a teen's life including their health, friendships, relationships with parents and academic performance.

To help further the idea that happiness skills must be learned, Simon-Thomas identified six Sustainable Happiness Skills which provide the foundation for a new initiative called Life's Good: Experience Happiness, which helps bring scientific, evidence-based tools and sustainable happiness skills directly to young people across America. Backed by 70 years of scientific research showing that happy people are healthier, live longer, earn more and do better in school and life, the platform aims to reach, teach and increase sustainable happiness.

Happiness is associated with several positive health effects, according to the Journal of Happiness Studies, including less insulin resistance, better sleep, higher HDL cholesterol levels and less reactivity to stress. Additionally, teens who identify as happy are more creative, helpful and sociable.

Research has also shown that happy kids do better in school. Happy learners remember information better and happiness is positively associated with GPA. The research also shows that schools that teach happiness skills outperform schools that don't, and typically experience dramatic drops in bullying, absenteeism and discipline issues. They also see impressive gains in student engagement, optimism, test scores and executive functioning skills that are key to future success.

When practiced, the six sustainable happiness skills can sustain a person's ability to recognize that life's good, even if it's hard sometimes, according to the research from Simon-Thomas. These are the foundation of Life's Good: Experience Happiness, the new corporate social responsibility initiative led by LG Electronics USA.

Mindfulness: Being aware of your thoughts and feelings in the present moment, without judging those thoughts or feelings as admirable, shameful or anything in between.

Human connection: Building and sustaining relationships with significant others, friendships and social engagement with peers, which is the most reliable, enduring predictor of happiness in life.

Positive outlook: Harnessing the ability to imagine a fruitful outcome and maintain a readiness to pursue and experience the opportunity in any circumstance.

Purpose: Understanding your ability to make a difference in the world, at work, school or for a team leads to a refined sense of purpose and increases your sense of happiness.

Generosity: Helping and giving to others can increase one's own happiness. According to a study overseen by Harvard University, people who donated time or money were 42 percent more likely to be happy when compared to those who didn’t.

Gratitude: The simple act of appreciating and thanking others for the goodness they contribute to your life helps foster happiness.

To learn more about these six skills, find tools you can use to teach happiness skills to your children and start your own journey to sustainable happiness, visit www.LGExperienceHappiness.com. A primary focus of the Life's Good: Experience Happiness platform is driving positive change in lives across America with the goal of equipping 5.5 million youth with happiness skills over five years.