The Happiness Connection  

Begin with you!

If you are of a certain age, you may remember the first time you opened your mouth and your mother or father’s voice came out.

You uttered the words you swore you would never say.

In my case it was the phrase, “Do you want to” followed by a request that I would never in my most tolerant moment want to do.

  • “Do you want to wash the dishes?”
  • “Do you want to get up in the middle of your favourite TV show, and set the table?”
  • “Do you want to dig your fingers into your eyeballs?”

You get the idea.

Imagine my horror when I asked my husband if he wanted to go outside and round the kids up for supper. Where did that phrase come from? I hadn’t thought about it for years, but there it was, coming out of my mouth.

I shouldn’t have been surprised to hear myself saying the phrase because I had heard so many times from my mother. Children model themselves after the significant adults in their life, and more often than not, that includes their parents.

I didn’t make a conscious decision to become a mini version of my mother; it was a behaviour that happened on a subconscious level.

We learn by observing, and copying, and then adjusting that behaviour to suit our needs.

The first time you watch your child mimic the way you speak, it may seem adorable, and you may find yourself recounting the story numerous times to anyone who will listen.

That's good if they're mimicking a positive trait, but what if they have copied a bad habit, something you don’t feel is appropriate for them to do?

Parents of a three year old were dismayed to observe behaviour that they interpreted as their young daughter being mean. It was almost as if they were observing a behaviour that they believed she was born with.

When a family member pointed out that she was imitating the way they were interacting with each other, they were disbelieving, but as the realization sunk in, things changed.

As soon as the parents made a conscious effort to speak to each other with respect and kindness, the behaviour of their daughter improved.

This leads to the important question. Are you modelling behaviours you want others to copy?

So far, I have been talking about parents and children, but the same imitating occurs in the workplace. The boss sets the tone for the company, school, or department. If you show respect for your colleagues, that will become the normal behaviour for all.

If you don’t feel that you are showing up in the world with the characteristics of the person you want to be, rather than the person you are, it is time to make some changes.

Treat others with respect, regardless of whether you believe they deserve it. My mother always told me not to lower myself to the standard of others, and even though that can be difficult advice to follow, it is valid.

Know your values and stay true to them. If you believe honesty is important, then make sure you always are, regardless of how difficult that can be. Learn to frame your honesty in a gentle way, but stick to your value system.

Recognize that you are a work in progress. Feeling that as the parent, teacher, or boss, you should have everything figured out is unrealistic. We all make mistakes. If you learn from them, and can apologize when the need arises, no one will hold your humanness against you.

Acknowledge that others are watching and copying you, and make sure you are modelling behaviours you are proud for them to copy. 

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About the Author

Reen Rose is an experienced, informative, and engaging speaker, author, and educator. She has worked for over three decades in the world of education, teaching children and adults in Canada and England.

Research shows that happy people are better leaders, more successful, and healthier than their unhappy counterparts, and yet so many people still believe that happiness is a result of their circumstances.

Happiness is a choice. Reen’s presentations and workshops are designed to help you become robustly happy. This is her term for happiness that can withstand challenge and change.

Reen blends research-based expertise, storytelling, humour, and practical strategies to both inform and inspire. She is a Myers Briggs certified practitioner, a Microsoft Office certified trainer and a qualified and experienced teacher.

Email Reen at [email protected]

Check out her websites at www.ReenRose.com, or www.ModellingHappiness.com

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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