In the Pirkei Avot 4:1, Ben Zoma wrote, “Who is rich? One who is happy with one’s lot.” Being satisfied with what we have is a difficult concept for most children. There is a constant need for more or what their friends have, but being “happy with one’s lot” is an essential life skill to teach children in order to ensure the overall happiness of their futures.
Teaching happiness is a constant never-ending and evolving lesson that will travel with each child into their adulthood, but for the October Chadash Jewish Value of the month, here are a few suggested pointers to get your families thinking about this very important topic.
Guided Discussion Questions
- When you blow out the candles on your birthday cake, what are the types of things you are wishing for?
- What is the difference between wanting material things and wanting non-material things? Share examples of material and non-material wishes. Perhaps have your child(ren) prioritize these items of which they think are most important.
- What toys do you have in your room that you once wanted really badly and now you never play with? Why don’t they make you happy anymore?
- Are there toys you’ve had forever that you still love as much today than they first day you got them? Why do you think they still make you happy?
- What things make you happy that are not toys that you play with? Why do those thing make you happy?
Your Happy Place Space
Ask your child to close their eyes and imagine the happiest place that they possibly can. As they are describing it, you should write down as many elements or descriptive words that they mention. Encourage them to give as many details as they can.
When they are done, share the list with them and explain to them that you are going to create a Happy Place Space somewhere in your house. Together, designate the spot and then bring as many elements from the list into that space.
For instance, if your child mentioned a blue sky, bring something “sky blue” there to allow them to think of it. If your child mentioned laughter, perhaps a funny book of jokes would be a good way to represent it.
When you have gone through the list and found ways to represent each element of the Happy Place Space, explain to your child that it’s not each of the items that bring happiness. Rather, it’s the way these items make you feel. Tell them that if they are needing to feel good, they can now come to their happy place space for a boost!