Welcome to our fourth summer book club meeting, a discussion of Raising Happiness prompted by Katy Keim of BookSnob.  We are posting Katy’s review of Raising Happiness chapter by chapter each Thursday. This book club first ran on Motherese, so you might want to check out the comments there, too, or Motherese blogger Kristen’s related posts.

Even if you aren’t reading along, we hope you’ll join the conversation.  What came to mind as you read the chapter being discussed, or Katy’s review?  You can subscribe to the comments thread for each posting and jump in.

Chapter 4: Optimism is a Choice.

By Katy Keim

In the next few weeks, Raising Happiness moves us into action. Practicing gratitude, growing your kids’ emotional intelligence, and building happiness habits are all things that resonate in my household at the moment. I liked this section of the book a lot. It seemed grounded in practical, actionable advice. The downside? There’s no excuses now…

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In Chapter 4, Carter tells us that feeling positive is a choice. She says the science suggests a full 40% of our outlook is determined by our day-to-day thinking rather than genetics or environment. That’s a lot under our control. We need to take the opportunity to replace bad feelings with good ones. This can be done with optimism, gratitude, and forgiving others.

Practicing gratitude is one of my newest habits and something that I have been trying to instill in my own family. In lieu of a religious grace before dinner, everyone around our table mentions one thing they are grateful for in their day. It can be as simple as the chocolate chip cookie or gratitude for their great education. (I am not joking. My son recently said that!)

I also bought this handy book to motivate myself and make my habit easier to practice. I am a sucker for the forced structure—it works for me. I don’t do it every day, but when one of my kids comes into my office, it is a great opportunity to share what I am thankful for. Practicing my own gratitude regularly has helped me to be a lot happier.

Chapter 4 A-ha Moment: Carter gives us an excellent description of a great apology and why forgiveness matters. “Forgiveness is something we do for ourselves.” It never really occurred to me that holding a grudge is hurting me or my kids rather than doing any damage to the other party. If we can let go sooner, we become stronger and happier. Reading this section, I realize I could use some work on my own apologizing and forgiveness before I could teach my kids effectively.


Discussion questions:

▪ What A-ha moments, if any, did you have in Chapter 4?

▪ How do you get your kids to deliver a sincere apology and practice forgiveness?

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