Welcome to our eighth 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 8: Mom? Mom? Mom? Mom? Are you listening Mom?

By Katy Keim

If Chapter 3 about perfectionism really spoke to me, so did Chapter 8 about mindfulness. How often can I hear my kids in a seemingly distant voice saying, “Mom? Mom? Mom? Mom?” trying to bring me back to the current moment. “Sorry, honey, I was worrying about tomorrow’s field trip or agonizing over yesterday’s meeting.” In this chapter, Christine gives us tips on being present through mindfulness, play, and savoring.

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Drink this chapter in.
 Lots of great stuff in here.

While I myself have tried some beginning meditation, trying it with my kids sounds slightly torturous. But my daughter’s first grade teacher starts school every day with a mindful meditation. They love it because they pay attention to their mood, calm themselves and prepare themselves for their day. Wow, sounds reasonable.

But Carter also talks about living in the moment with our kids in a less new agey way by simply calling out the moment and naming it. “Wow, this baseball game is so exciting, I am loving it” or “I wish this ice cream cone would last all afternoon.” These are ways we can say to our kids that we are fully present in the moment.

In fact, Carter takes this a step further in talking about “savoring” a moment—such as when we recall jokes in a movie or look at photos or retell stories about our vacation. We are extending the presence of a happy moment by making its effect more lasting.

This weekend, I sat on a porch with an old friend in Seattle and we were howling laughing at pictures of our pre-husband, pre-children life: bad bridesmaid dresses, bad haircuts, and bad boyfriends. Her kids watched us guffaw loudly. While we were having a riot ourselves (and I am sure making ourselves happier by recalling outrageously fun times), who knew we were modeling to her kids how to savor a moment?

Chapter 8 A-ha Moment: The section that caught my eye here was about why play is so beneficial to happiness. Carter talks a great deal on why this is important to kids, because play is the ultimate example of living in the moment. This all made sense. But the A-ha struck when I thought about play time. And I am not just talking about a pedicure or time with girlfriends. When was the last time you had real playfulness?

I think as we grow into “responsible adults,” playfulness becomes scarce.  But a goofy, playful moment can be a real happiness spike. At Thanksgiving last year, the parents at our school played the first graders in kickball. It was hard to see who was having more fun. The reality is that when we are fully engaged in something playful, we have no space for worries or depression. Tonight when I got home I raced my kids–them on their bikes, me perilously perched on a Razor scooter. It felt great. I am bringing more of that mojo on.

Discussion questions:

▪ What A-ha moments, if any, did you have while reading Chapter 8?
▪ How do you remain present with your kids—are you playful, savoring, mindful?

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