Pathways to happiness and raising teenagers

Yale University  has released a free “Science of Well-Being for Teens” course online – Coursera. The university’s initiative involves publishing short videos on misconceptions about happiness, human behaviour and the feelings and thoughts that lead to mental well-being. The campaign is an attempt to counter the mental health crisis among teenagers.

Denmark has been voted the happiest country in the world by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) almost every year since 1973. According to Danish psychotherapist Iben Sandahl, parents should model themselves on the Danes to raise happy, well-rounded teenagers. What are the basic principles for raising young people in Denmark? These include showing them trust and closeness, empathising with their situation, being able to listen and teach young people the art of listening, communicating honestly and openly and avoiding ultimatums.

Almost 85 years ago, researchers at Harvard University set out to discover the ingredients of a good life and what makes people feel happy. The multi-year study involved 700 Harvard College students and boys from Boston’s poorest neighbourhoods, from troubled families. According to Dr Robert Waldinger, lead author of the study, the two most essential components of a happy life are taking care of one’s health and maintaining relationships with other people, which makes people happier, keeps them healthy, and allows them to live longer.

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