Positive Psychology Learning were honoured to be invited to present at Dubai’s Happiness Journey that began on March 20th. The UAE is fast becoming a global hub for happiness and wellbeing.
The Happiness Journey is an annual experiential event that celebrates the International Day of Happiness (March 20th) and this year it was a five-day event. It began with the first ever UAE Happiness Carnival followed by a unique, multisensory experiential event that included speaker sessions and a variety of multisensory experiential experiences, all designed to raise awareness of how to live a healthier and happier life.
Happiness is a journey
H.E. Ohood Al Roumi, Minister of State for Happiness and Wellbeing said, “Happiness is a journey, not a destination. The platform is focused on all segments of society, and the role of the government is to create an enabling environment for the happiness and wellbeing of the people”. Unfortunately, Dan was unable to travel because of a previous commitment in the UK but we were extremely grateful that Lee Newitt, Positive Psychology Learning Associate was agreed to take his place. We spent a lot of time at the event talking to other presenters and happiness experts as well as visitors to the event.
Practising the habits of happiness and wellbeing
As well as being friendly and jovial, it soon became apparent how informed people in the UAE are about the science of happiness and wellbeing. A surprising number of visitors told us that regularly practice mindfulness meditation, and gratitude journaling, a testament to the effectiveness of the government policies and initiatives of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, which are focused providing the environment and resources to support the happiness and wellbeing of the population to UAE which is made up of two million people representing over 220 nationalities.
We had been asked to make our presentation about mindfulness, which we were happy to do although we felt a more than a little humbled and nervous when we discovered we were presenting after the legendary Mathieu Richard! However, this turned into a blessing after I asked Mathieu his views on teaching mindfulness to children, his reply inspired us to look at mindfulness from the perspective of children. Over the period of the Happiness Journey we spoke and interviewed the visiting parents and children and asked for their views on many of subjects including happiness, wellbeing and mindfulness.
The real experts
We were not surprised to discover that children are natural experts in these fields and they kindly shared some great nuggets of wisdom with us. We (cheekily) asked them what advice would they give to adults so they would be happier. Overwhelmingly, the answers were play more, laugh more and don’t work so hard – great advice. When asked what makes your parents happy a common response was, ‘to see us happy’. What makes children happy? Most said, spending time with their family and sharing things together. Perhaps these are questions you can ask your children too?
Sharing the moments
When it came time for our presentation we were able to share some of this information and a few photographs too and there is a short video below to give you an idea of the exciting environment this event took place in.
Lee shared a great story about a mindfulness practice that helped one little girl overcome anxiety and taught it to the audience. It’s based on the acronym S.E.L.F.I.E, an easy one to remember and one that I encourage everyone to do the first time they pick up their mobile phone in the morning and maybe when they put it down last thing at night. It’s a great technique to teach to your children and practice yourself. You can read about it HERE.