Barn Swallows and the Art of Happiness Building Children’s Character
Barn Swallows and the Art of Happiness
By Sharon Scott, LPC, LMFT
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The barn swallows are back! I have twelve of their mud nests attached to my house. Some of them are already on their second set of babies as I see their fuzzy heads peeping over the nest at me.
Barn swallows appear to be excellent parents. They build deep nests and line them with white feathers. At night they sleep on the ledge near their babies.
The most unusual thing about these birds is that they bring in extended family to help with the graduation party. Whenever I see 10-15 swallows sailing through my porches is the day that they will be bringing the babies off the nest. All relatives come to demonstrate the art of flying! I look forward to their jubilant celebration each year.
I was recently showing a nest to a friend who was visiting and she said, ‘You’re lucky!’ I asked why and she informed me that a tornado would never touch my house as barn swallows pick locations that they know are safe. I’m a fourth generation Texan and had never heard that old wife’s tale, but I sure liked the idea! And I smiled’ which brings me to the subject of happiness.
I’ve been a marriage and family therapist for 30 years. I often talk to my clients about how unhappy they are and try to help them manage some rough times. There are so many problems in our world for all of us: the economy, the war, drought, etc.
Sometimes our health can worry us or our kids or a flat tire or our spouse and on and on. I recently read a book by Dr. Dan Baker titled What Happy People Know (Rodale, 2003). It impressed me so much that I’ve suggested to some of my clients that they read it. Two of my clients (one a highly successful CEO) told me that it had changed their lives.
Dr. Baker has studied happiness as a science and contends that many of us are searching for it in all the wrong places. He says that people think that a life of leisure, status, possessions, financial security, and worldly power will bring happiness. And he says it’s just not true. He elaborates that people sacrifice their leisure and freedom for these things and, instead of feeling free, that they feel frazzled.
He adds that courage is one of the prerequisites for happiness. He defines courage as the ability to take action in spite of fear. Where does one get courage? He suggests that one special quality of love “appreciation” can quell our fears.
Appreciation asks for nothing, and gives everything. Dr. Baker says that the brain ” cannot be in a state of appreciation and a state of fear at the same time.” And he notes, “Happiness isn’t the art of building a trouble-free life. It’s the art of responding well when trouble strikes.”
What can you appreciate today? What is going right in your life? Focus on it for five minutes extend appreciation to more minutes each day.
Copyright 2018, Sharon Scott.
The guide for parents/educators on how to peer-proof children and teens is Peer Pressure Reversal: An Adult Guide to Developing a Responsible Child, 2nd Ed.
Her popular book for teens, How to Say No and Keep Your Friends, 2nd Ed., empowers kids to stand out,not just fit in!
A follow-up book for teens, When to Say Yes! And Make More Friends, shows adolescents how to select and meet quality friends and, in general, feel good for doing and being good.
Sharon also has a charming series of five books for elementary-age children each teaching an important living skill and "co-authored" with her savvy cocker spaniel Nicholas who makes the learning fun.Their book on managing elementary-age peer pressure is titled Too Smart for Trouble.
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