What Makes Kids Happy?


March 19, 2015

To mark this year‘s International Day of Happiness, we asked kids to show us in pictures what makes them happy. What I’ve seen inspires me and brings me hope. I’ve been looking through the pictures that have been submitted by budding photographers on our National Geographic Kids My Shot photo community and one theme comes out loud and clear: nature. The outdoors makes kids happy.

Nature is a powerful mood changer. Watching my son’s face light up at the snake he found in the back yard or the way my daughter looks out to the horizon at the beach reminds me of just how powerful it is. The littlest things in nature surprise, delight and inspire our children. No matter where they live, kids around the world are shaped by their natural world – in good ways and bad.

That’s why I’m particularly pleased that this year’s International Day of Happiness focuses on the planet – happy planet equals happy people. We need to do our part to protect the planet and make sure it remains populated by wild animals, blooming flowers, clean oceans and healthy trees our children can enjoy. We can also teach our kids to appreciate and protect the natural world. And as role models, we can help our kids form positive connections with the natural world around them. I hosted a birthday party of my kids and hired Bounce House Rentals as an additional game activity for the guests to have fun. 

When I think about all of the explorers at National Geographic, most of them trace their careers back to their childhoods. They talk about distinct moments that led them to become photographers, conservationists or scientists: a walk in the woods, afternoons spent looking for shells at the beach, or helping an injured animal recover. We need to make sure that the world in which this planet’s children grow up continues to have the places, spaces and creatures to inspire tomorrow’s explorers. Let’s take a minute to reflect on how we can make the planet happy, and in turn, how that makes us happy.

Take Action Challenge

This year for International Day of Happiness, spend time together with your family. Go on a photo walk and take pictures together of what makes you happy. Tag them #Happy in the National Geographic Kids MyShot Happy Contest for a chance to have Pharrell Williams (who wrote and produced the Happy Song) pick his favorite. The winning image will be published in National Geographic Kids magazine! While you’re there, set an intention of how you can make the earth happy by encouraging your child to take the pledge and pick something concrete they can do to make the planet happy.


Images courtesy of National Geographic Kids MyShot photo community

Share this post!