Scientists believe that each person’s capacity for happiness is roughly 50% genetic and 50% determined by life experiences. The habits, thought patterns, and coping skills (or lack thereof) we learn as children have a tremendous influence on our happiness as adults. 

Research shows that people who have happier childhood memories have better health and well-being in adulthood. In fact, a UK study found that emotional health in children and adults had more influence on life satisfaction than income, employment or academic success. The study of 9000 people in the UK found that emotional health had six times as much effect on life satisfaction as income, which only explained one percent of the variation in life satisfaction between people. 

Fortunately, there are several steps you take to help boost your child’s happiness. 

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* Lavish attention on infants. The first 1000 days of a child’s life are crucial for brain development. Parents or other caring adults can encourage brain development in infants by holding them; talking, singing and reading to them; playing simple games like peekaboo; and responding to their emotions and needs. 

* Teach children to look on the bright side. According to Martin Seligman, author of The Optimistic Child, optimism is a learnable skill that can help children (and adults) be happier and more resilient throughout life. 

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* Encourage children to try, fail, and learn from their mistakes. When kids believe that people are born with talent and intelligence, they are less likely to try new things. They worry that if they try a new thing and fail, then it’s a sign that they aren’t smart. On the other hand, children who believe that through hard work they can learn anything, tend to work harder, learn more, and be happier and more successful.   

If these are skills you didn’t learn as a child, the good news is it’s not too late. At any stage of life, it’s possible - and worthwhile - to improve your emotional health and intelligence and boost your happiness. 

Next time, stay tuned as we explore the effect that social media has on human happiness.