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Teaching Kids Happiness and Innovation (Guest: Mike Ferry)

BTRadioIntWhat is it, really, that creates and sustains happiness in ourselves and in our children? Listen in to this program from our archives as Mike Ferry, banking on his research and experience in working with young people, offers valuable insights into this important and fascinating topic.


Some define happiness as a positive by-product of success. In other words, if you are successful enough, you’ll be happy.

Teaching Kids Happiness and InnovationBut that definition doesn’t square with the fact that there are plenty of folks who have the appearance of success, yet they are NOT happy. Evidence and research at this point indicate precisely the opposite position: Happy people tend to be successful people, and they conduct their lives and relationships in a manner that is sustainable and consistent with their closest-held values.

Author and teacher, Mike Ferry, defines happiness as an optimistic, communal and disciplined perspective on life. Every part of that definition makes sense; it’s worth sharing with our children as a major lesson in life.

Happiness and Innovation Mike FerryIn this valuable and informative program, Mike discusses authentic happiness and how it can be combined with innovation and a growth mindset to give our children a strong base, a platform for managing life in a world containing more than its share of challenges. Mike’s here also to suggest how we can encourage our kids to develop and demonstrate other valuable attributes like gratitude, perseverance, mindfulness, purpose, tolerance, collaboration, faith and creativity. All of these will contribute to their happiness and a life well-lived.

Mike’s in-depth research and his years as a middle school teacher and father of four all come together in a book that’s the focus of this program. It’s entitled, Teaching Happiness and Innovation. (28:50)

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August 20, 2017 Posted by | Affirmation and Recognition, Communication, Compassion, Educators, family, Healthy living, Parents, Success Strategies | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

One Way to Kill Happiness: Chase It

I came across this quote the other day; it’s from Eric Hoffer: “The search for happiness is one of the chief sources of unhappiness.” It immediately struck me as being absolutely true. It also resonated with a book I read a number of years ago: Happiness is a Serious Problem by Dennis Prager.

I wonder how many folks would change their striving if they believed that Hoffer and Prager were on target. I’m talking about those folks who say they will be happy after they get a raise, or get a better job, or get married, or get divorced, and on and on. It just doesn’t work like that. How many people have pretty much everything … and are miserable with it?

In their book, The Second Force, Gary and Pat Emery say this: “Learning to be happy is like training a bird to sit on your shoulder. You have to let the happiness come to you rather than chase after it.” They also add, “Happiness is a discovery without a search.”

I LIKE that!

James D. Sutton, EdD, CSP

Consulting Psychologist/Certified Speaking Professional
PO Box 672, Pleasanton, TX 78064

September 29, 2011 Posted by | Healthy living, Inspirational, Self-esteem | , , , , | Leave a comment

There’s No Repairing Some Folks’ Misery

The greatest joy of being a person is the unselfish capacity to interact with others. Still, there are some who seem to want no part of it.

A friend’s newsletter got me to thinking. He told a brief story of a man who complained to his doctor that he was so unhappy. (Interesting, huh, how doctors are supposed to have a pill that will fix ANYTHING.)

“Go out and make three new friends, then come back and tell me about it” the doctor advised. The man left the doctor’s office not too pleased with the “prescription.”

He was back in a couple of weeks.

“Did you go out and make three new friends,” the doctor asked?

“I did,” the man replied. “But it didn’t help. Now I’m STUCK with these three new friends!”

It’s interesting, isn’t it, how folks who are depressed and down often get that way when they shut themselves off from others. They “sour” and soak in self-pity until they are all but paralyzed. At that point, any action at all is a major effort.  

You can see it in children as well as adults. They might not be content in their misery, but they are COMFORTABLE with it. 

It’s not the making of friends that brings the most joy in one’s life. It’s the BEING a friend, the magical capacity to make another person (or even an animal), not myself, the object of my kindness and effort. It’s the stepping down from center stage and putting someone else up there for awhile. And it’s getting BEHIND the spotlight instead of in front of it.

Kids today are no better or worse than they were a century ago. They are simply the results of the cultures that rear them. The day they truly learn the world doesn’t revolve around them is the day the best of life gets going.

James Sutton, Psychologist 

October 27, 2007 Posted by | Counselors, Difficult Child, Educators, family, Inspirational, Parents, Self-esteem | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Will to Carry On

My 33-year-old son got a troubling phone call last week. His best friend in high school had wrapped himself in plastic in the cab of his pickup … then ended his life with a shotgun.

It was interesting to hear how the funeral of a person who felt so hopeless was so largely attended that it took an hour and a half for the attendees to file by the casket.

What would have to happen for a person to feel so bad that not living another day, another hour, another minute would sound like the best plan? The emotional pain would have to be unbearable. Such a person would not be in their rational mind. 

And consider the pain of his parents. These are GOOD and decent people; I know them. How would you EVER get past grief like this? 

It’s hard to imagine, isn’t it? Even under the worst of it, the vast majority of us would find a way to keep on keeping on. 

But that in no way means it wouldn’t be difficult … incredibly difficult. 

This all stood in contrast to me when I stepped into a convenience store near my hotel here in Knoxville. The lady behind the counter was white-headed, bent and stooped. She was 75 if she was a day. But she had an infectuous spirit and a smile and a way with customers that had to make her boss KNOW she could never be compensated for the value she brought.

I don’t know why she was still working; there might have been a good reason.  And there might even be some folks who would resent her filling a job that could go to a young worker. But, frankly, she was doing it ten times BETTER than most folks young enough to be her grandkids.

Joy oozed from this woman. I managed to even get a little of it on me.

And I was better for it.

James Sutton, Psychologist

October 15, 2007 Posted by | adversity, Counselors, Educators, family, Inspirational, Self-esteem | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment