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#Girlscout Badge of #Happiness

January 25, 2012 , ,

Girl Scouts use scientific method to study happiness

By Dr. Gregory Ramey. New York Times News Service. Published in the Denver

The Girl Scouts have always been about a lot more than cookies and cookouts, and they have recently revamped their recognition system to reflect the needs of young girls.

The Scout merit badges underwent their first major overall since 1987, with one badge in particular being the subject of both criticism and compliments. Girl Scouts in grades six through eight can now earn a Science of Happiness merit badge. This new badge has been described as “cheesy” and “absurd” by some critics.

The rationale behind the badge is that well-being can be scientifically analyzed like other psychological conditions. Scouts earn the badge by following the scientific method to study their own happiness and that of others.

They are involved in such activities as helping others, learning to forgive, reflecting on family memories and events and keeping a journal of their activities. The focus on preteen girls was intentional, based on data that girls’ well-being is severely challenged during adolescence with issues of anxiety and depression.

The critics are wrong on this issue. I applaud the Girl Scouts for trying to integrate psychological research into the lives of young girls at a critical time in their development.

Based upon years of research by Dr. Martin Seligman (, it is possible to scientifically study the factors that give people a positive sense of well-being.

Five elements are important: — Positive emotion. People with a high sense of well-being frequently do things that make themselves feel good. They are balanced in their pursuit of positive feelings, and weigh the benefits of doing something that feels good immediately (e.g., eating lots of ice cream) with the long-term consequences (weight gain). — Engagement. Happy people make commitments and are conscientious in following through. They feel connected to their jobs, other people, church and recreational activities. — Relationships. The quality and quantity of our contact with others are critical factors in determining our well-being. Do we surround our lives with people who are positive, funny, ethical and caring? Do we enjoy spending time with our kids, coworkers and spouse? Do we avoid holding others to impossible standards? Are we quick to forgive others for misdeeds and apologize when we are wrong? — Meaning and purpose. People with a high sense of well-being actively seek out things that they value, rather than complain about their boredom and unhappiness. — Accomplishment. Happy people take satisfaction in their many achievements. Regardless of how mundane the task, they feel a real sense of pride in doing something to the best of their ability.

Dr. Gregory Ramey is a child psychologist and vice president of outpatient services at the Children’s Medical Center of Dayton, Ohio. This article appeared in the Dayton Daily News.

Read more: Girl Scouts use scientific method to study happiness – The Denver Post



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