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Teenagers experiment with happiness

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Youth from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Lewisville Stake participate in a happiness experiment. (Photo: Skyler Neibaur)

How exactly is happiness made? Nearly 270 young men and women, aged 14 to 18 years old, gathered at a youth conference in Highland Village to find out.

Youth from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints spent a weekend focusing on the science of happiness and gratitude, participating in a happiness experiment. They attended classes and workshops on how to increase their personal happiness using service, expressing gratitude and improving individually.

The happiness experiment culminated in a service project where the youth were asked to write a letter to someone who has impacted their life. They were later asked to call that person on the phone and read their letter of gratitude to them.

Ethan Martin, a sophomore at Gayer High School, wrote a letter to a friend who recently passed away. Unable to call that person on the phone, he ended up calling the mother of the friend, reading her his thoughts on the impact her son had on his life. It was an emotional experience for everyone involved.

“It was a really good experience. I’m grateful I was able to share those feelings with her and let her know how great her son was,” said Martin.

Cameron Hart, 17 and a recent graduate of Flower Mound High School, wrote about his mother.

“I called her and shared personal things that I don’t often say to her. It was a really good experience for both of us.”

For Rebekah Horikami, 17, said the most meaningful experience of the weekend was the service project.

“Thinking about how one person has influenced my life made me feel loads of gratitude toward just that one person. After that, I realized there are many around me that deserve the same gratitude. Maybe I can’t call each of them, but i can show it through my actions.”

In addition to workshops and service, the youth participated in a life-sized version of The Game of Life, which took up the floor of a large gymnasium.

Youth had the opportunity to play “Life” by making big decisions like going to college, buying a car, getting a job and getting married. The youth advanced through spaces on the floor in about two and a half hours. The game required 65 adult volunteers playing hospital staff, police officer, judge and many more. The Game of Life gave the youth an opportunity to see the effects of different choices they can make in life.

“It’s a scientific fact that happiness increases when gratitude is shared,” said Steven Woodland, second counselor in the Church of Jesus Christ Lewisville Stake Presidency. “The youth were able to feel the joy of sharing and simultaneously increase their own joy as they have lifted one another.”

 

Submitted by Clairissa Cooper

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