The Pursuit of Happiness

by Debera Nielsen PhD on August 12, 2012

This week I was watching the Olympics and there was a feature piece about an athlete from the nation of Bhutan. It’s a small nation in the Himalayas between India and China. As set forth by its leaders, a national goal is for the people to be happy. It is a small country and the people have a reputation for living in peace and harmony. Following the feature, the commentator remarked that other nations were looking toward happiness as a goal they should set for their people. The United States was one of the countries mentioned.

I’ve written previously about the importance of happiness as a worthy goal for your children.

It seems whimsical to seek a goal that cannot be very easily quantified. However, it is also true that if asked, most people would say that they want to be happy. Unfortunately, the kind of “success” we strive for in America doesn’t always bring happiness.
Our country has had national goals in the past that have been put forth by a variety of national leaders: Every one should own their own home. We should have smaller families. There should be a car in every garage. Everyone must go to college.

Why not have the goal of happiness for everyone? What would that look like? Would there be more cooperation and less competition? Would there be a lifestyle in which people weren‘t isolated but have the support of a social network.

At Children’s Country House we encourage the children to play together and to look out for the welfare of their friends. They also have the opportunity to learn to look after the welfare of the animals we have at school. We strive for them to understand that we all need to look out for each other.

About a year and a half ago a young man called the school and asked if he could visit. He told me that he had attended the school 25 years ago and then had to leave because his family had moved back east.

I asked for his name and immediately remembered the family. I had become quite friendly with his mother. He related to me that when he started school back east he was afflicted with childhood depression but remembered how happy he had been at Children’s Country House and was able to cling to the thought that one day he could be happy again.

It is events like that that convince me that we are on the right track with what we teach and do at CCH!

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