How to be a Happier Grandparent

Certainly, grandchildren make our lives happy and that’s a good thing because according to Rick Hanson, a neuropsychologist and founder of the Wellspring Institute for Neuroscience and Contemplative Wisdom in the U.S., our well-developed brains tend to dwell on the negative. According to scientists, the brain reacts more readily to negative stimuli than positive and painful experiences are more memorable than pleasurable incidents.

We can all relate to feeling the impact of negative experiences and thoughts. We tend to be hard on ourselves and concentrate on what went wrong in a day, rather than what went right. We tend to work harder at avoiding losing something important to us than in working to gain something important. Our heads are full of regrets about the past and fears and anxiety about the future. After all, those regrets and anxieties have had years to build up in our memory bank. When our heads are full of anxious, irritable, depressing thoughts, it makes us irritable and impatient with people around us, including grandchildren.

So the positive relationships we have with grandchildren and the joy they give us are very important in filling up the happy side of our brains to balance out, maybe even push out, the worry and anxiety. The fact is that the interaction with grandchildren unlocks the inner child in each of us and allows us to play, be silly and even happy. Most of us will agree that a grandchild can lift our spirits with just a smile or a hug.

We can do some mind and body exercises to increase our ‘well’ of happiness. First of all, instead of concentrating on the mistakes of our past and the fears for the future, we can just focus on the present moment and cherish the fact that at any given present time, we’re probably feeling okay. Keeping this neutral, okay feeling will help to fill up our happy well and ward off the anxiety and negative thoughts we might encounter or even just anticipate tomorrow. An hour spent reading a book to an appreciative and adoring grandchild may, in fact, fill the happiness well to brimming. Living in the moment and accumulating as many neutral moments as we can along the way may help to dispel depression.

Everyone knows that health is the most important asset in our lives, especially as we age. Treating your body well with exercise and healthy food will ensure a sense of well being and resilience. A good brisk daily walk or taking a yoga class, preferably with a grandchild, will improve attitude and sweep away those negative thoughts. And stop worrying about a body that is aging or weighs more than it should.

We all need some form of love to help us feel positive. And is there anything better than the love of a grandchild? We may not get as much love from all the sources in our lives as we’d like, but giving love works well to improve our mood and the more we give, the greater the chance we’ll get some back. Love nurtures and heals, so when we give love to a grandchild, we’re making an enormous contribution to her sense of self esteem and feeling of being safe. Giving love also helps to nurture ourselves and to make us feel strong, important, healthy and happy.

If you can’t give a grandchild a hug today, make a phone call. The interaction may just boost your well of happy thoughts.