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What makes children happy?

Researchers at the University of British Columbia have found that spirituality plays a role in childhood happiness. Previous research has shown that spirituality accounts for 4 or 5% of happiness in adults. This study found that spirituality accounts for 6.5-16.5% of children?s happiness. The researchers thought that young peoples? spirituality would be too immature to account for their well-being and say that the findings have implications for happiness being built into children?s experiences.

Professor Mark Holder, the lead researcher, says that spirituality is not religiosity, which is often more organised, and may be church based. He says that spirituality is easiest to describe as having an inner belief system.

The study tested 315 children aged 9 to 12, measuring spirituality and other factors such as temperament and social relations that can affect an individuals sense of happiness. Parents rated children?s spirituality and happiness levels and teachers also rated the child?s apparent happiness levels.

Holder has identified several possible reasons why spirituality and happiness are linked.  Spirituality increases a sense of meaning, it stimulates hope, it reinforces social norms, and can provide a social support network ? all things which improve a persons well-being.

The researchers hope that one day activities which improve happiness will be built into the school environment. They suggest that there are things which can help people to increase happiness such as, children making lists of things which contribute to the community, or teachers looking at what they do that makes a difference, or giving students cameras to capture things which give them meaning in life or which are beautiful. To read more click here

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