Your kids are back in school; should you be, too? Will taking a class make you happier? Or will it just make you feel busier? Will it help you raise happy kids?

That depends. Do you love learning? If so, you might want to take a class. Here’s why:

→ Our brains grow and change throughout adulthood depending on what we do with them. Do a lot of math, and the part of your brain that processes math will get bigger. Do stuff that makes you feel calm and happy, and that brain region will enlarge. (That’s a bit of an over-simplication, as you neuroscience-types know. But it is true: change your behavior and you change your brain!)

→ People who’ve received training in stress reduction techniques (e.g., have taken a yoga class) really do experience less stress in life, and less stress equals greater happiness. In addition, research shows that parents’ stress-management affects children in a big way. Read more about stress-free parenting in my Greater Good blog this week.

→ Parenting classes work. According to researcher Robert Epstein, “Parents who have taken parenting classes produce better outcomes with their children than parents who lack such training, and…more training leads to better outcomes.” Haven’t taken a parenting class since Lamaze? Might be time to brush up.

When we want to improve our own happiness, or our kids’ well-being, a little training can go a long way. I can learn a lot by reading a book, but the insights I glean are only helpful to the extent that I’m able to integrate it into my life and practices. A good class will:

 

→ Provide you with insights and inspiration to make changes

→ Help you integrate insights into your everyday life through specific behaviors

→ Guide you in practicing making small changes over time

 

I’m pretty darn busy, but I am nearly always enrolled in a class of some sort because I like the structure of learning something new with a teacher. And as a single mom who works full-time, I’m really grateful for all of the wonderful online classes available that allow me to learn and practice on my own time.

 

Take Action: Sign up for a parenting, happiness, or stress-reduction class today! Get yourself to yoga, or join a meditation group.  Spend some time learning something new!

 

Written By: Christine Carter