|"Entrusted" collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper.|
Actually Gilbert and others say that the affiliative activities involved in altruism and kindness are hard wired, that they are part of our primate brain. When under stress though, we totally lose sight of this part of ourselves, and fall back on to the more primitive parts of the brain. Modern life being what it is, culture making its increasingly strident demands on us, we tend to stay in the stressed out, more primitive mode a lot more than our ancestors ever did. But when we are give a chance, we thrive on acts of kindness.
Here's an interesting video from Christine Carter and Kelly Corrigan where they discuss the growing materialism with kids and holidays. It's worth a watch!
So if we take Gilbert's ideas along with Warneken and Tomasello's research, then we need to find ways to help ourselves and our children access the compassionate, wise, generous, affiliative part of our brains in order to have a happy life. For example, Carter and Corrigan talk about taking toys to a homeless shelter, and distributing them. But what if, instead, they were to take simple art making activities to a shelter and create a little art making workshop for the folks in the shelter. I guarantee all would have a great time. Especially if you are making some simple like sock puppets. Then all participants have the pleasure of playing and working together, but they also have a toy they have made themselves. How great would that be?
So that would be my #21 way to have a happy life, find a way to create some fun with others, and make sure to engage the affiliative part of the brain.
#22 is related. One of Paul Gilbert's ideas is about creating compassionate image for you to work with and develop. The more I read about this the more excited I got. This is exactly what the folks I worked with in NYC did, in creating a Wise Old Woman character and puppet. She embodied the groups' inner compassionate and wise beings. (You can read more about the experience here.) Everyone in the group, including therapists, projected all kinds of wonderful wisdom and good things like feeling cared for and cared about on to the Wise Old Woman. She was loaded with the qualities that Gilbert says is so important: Wisdom, Strength, Warmth and Nonjudgement.
My #22 of 1000 ways to have a happy life would be to work on the Wise Old Woman and Gilbert's compassionate character some more, in my art and art journaling. (Can't wait!)
Want more on holiday gifts? Try the Minimalists. Excellent ideas! (And thank you Huyen for pointing that one out!)
Have a happy holiday and a happy life! You all deserve that!