Health

Why the Girl Scouts introduced a happiness badge

I’m no Girl Scout, but after hearing about the Girl Scouts of the USA’s new badge called The Science of Happiness, I think I’d like to be one. Take some steps to see if they improve my happiness? Sign me up.

Girl scouts image

I’m no Girl Scout, but after hearing about the Girl Scouts of the USA’s new badge called The Science of Happiness, I think I’d like to be one. Take some steps to see if they improve my happiness? Sign me up.

As part of the 100th anniversary of the Scouts’ badge program, the organization has introduced more than 100 new badges including the Science of Happiness. “We did tons of focus groups and research with girls about what they wanted to learn about and this is really in response to them wanting to earn badges with purpose and really be interesting science,” says Alisha Niehaus, executive editor, program content for the New York-based Girl Scouts. “And looking at happiness through the psychology and sociology and research is something a lot of girls wouldn’t even know.” Ultimately, while the badge helps bring the importance of happiness to the top of girls’ minds, it also emphasizes the science and research behind it by giving them ways to be happier.

To create the badge, the Girl Scouts enlisted the help of Dr. Martin Seligman, who is well known in happiness circles for his work as the director of the positive psychology center at the University of Pennsylvania. “There are five steps to every badge in the program,” says Niehaus. “And in the Science of Happiness badge, you try out five different activities that research says will make you happier and you keep a journal to see if in fact they do make you happier. Each badge has three different ways to complete it.”

So what are the steps and can I do them myself? They include:

1. Make yourself happier: Girls get to choose from self-awareness activities, from realizing when they’re happy to keeping a gratitude journal.

2. Think differently for happiness: Emphasizing optimistic thinking, this step encourages girls to be happy for others and to focus on realistic thinking by walking through worst-case scenarios for everyday events that are bothersome and assessing…how bad are they, really?

3. Get happy through others: This step suggests girls make something meaningful to them such as a collage and make a “gratitude visit” a.k.a. telling someone such as a teacher or parent what you’re grateful for what they’ve done or continue to do.

4. Do a helpful happiness experiment: Survey others to see what makes them happy, or focus on a friend who’s sad and work with them to find sources of happiness.

5. Create a happiness action plan: After figuring out which of these steps worked to improve happiness, girls are encouraged to make “inspiration collages” comprised of things that make them happy, or create a Bliss Box containing treasures and written memories of happy moments in their lives.

While all of this has me thinking about my own happiness, I particularly love the idea of a Bliss Box and I’m wondering what I should put into it. What about you? Are you now inspired to boost your own happiness?

Want more happiness news? Follow me on Twitter @AstridVanDenB

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