Hardwire My Son’s Brain for Happiness and Positivity with This Simple yet Powerful Habit

Source: Good Housekeeping

As a brain-based and happiness coach, I apply a lot of principles in hardwiring our brains for happiness and positivity to myself and my children (and this is the best way to influence my husband to do the same by the way).

To help my son to hardwire his brain for happiness and positivity, I use brain-based conversations in our daily situations, which I will share a lot on this page (so make sure you follow me). Also, I help him build a few powerful happiness habits, one of which is my version of the Gratitude Exercise. I call it the Happiness Exercise.

Every night, when I put him to bed, I would ask him to share with me about the three things that make him really happy that day. I choose this hour in the day as a research says that any thoughts within the 45 minutes before sleep will go to the sub-conscious part of the brain. And here is just another conversation we had recently during bed time.

Mum: Can you please share with mummy the three things that make you so happy today?

Son: I learnt coding with Dad!

Mum: Why does coding make you feel happy? [Probing further for clarity and extension of the positive emotions.]

Son: Because coding can make anything. It can even make the car fly. Also, it’s another language so now I have four languages: Vietnamese, English, Spanish and Java Script. And it’s fun you know Mum, because it’s like playing.

Mum: I love it! What else makes you happy?

Son: Dad is proud of my Maths as I have made progress with multiplication.

Mum: And?

Son: Let me think.

Mum: How about dinner? Do you love dinner today?

Son: Well, it’s part of the day. Dinner is always good and I love it always. I am trying to think of something else that’s special for today.

Minh was thinking when Dad came.

Son: Ah! We are here together now. It’s quite rare that we happen to be on the bed altogether.

Indeed, the four of us were together on our cozy bed, and as our son said that, we all rolled over for a big family hug. At that moment, I knew that my son was ready for a really good night, with happiness wired into his brain.

The key things to remember when doing this exercise:

  1. Find a time when you and your child can most focus. Bed time is always the best time as you reflect about the day and can utilize that window to calm down all of the messy thoughts, paving way for a quality sleep.
  2. Make sure you are truly interested in his/her stories and engage with his/her through all of your senses. In other words, be totally present and indulge in the conversation. It’s a privilege that your child opens up and share with you about his/her world.
  3. Help his/her to install the goodness into their brains by reliving the moments with probing questions. Research shows that due to the naturally wired negativity bias, we rarely spot positive facts and when we do, we often barely sink into them so they could be installed into our brains. So enriching the beautiful experiences is crucial.
  4. Add these two more questions if you feel like: 1) What made you sad today? 2) What are the lessons you learnt from that? What these will do is to help create new positive wirings through the lessons learnt so your child will less likely ruminate on the sad experience, keeping it away from being hardwired in his/her brain.

Business Insider’s Most Innovative Career Coach. Forbes Coaches Council Member. Career Happiness Strategist & Coach for Mothers.