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Pause for Thought in the Classroom - What Makes Us Truly Happy?

Happiness through contentment

by Alison Groves

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To consider that true happiness is not gained through material possessions.

Preparation and materials


  1. Show Slides 1-8 one at a time, asking the children what emotion each slide is showing.

    You may wish to group the children into pairs or small groups to discuss the slides.

    Listen to a range of responses.

  2. Ask the children to think of some alternative emotions. Ask them to draw emojis that represent these emotions for others to guess.

  3. Point out that all of us have emotions and feelings and that how we act affects the emotions and feelings of those around us.

  4. Ask the children to think of different words to describe the emotion of happiness. Suggestions may include words such as joy, pleasure, gladness, contentment and so on.

    Ask the children what kinds of things make them feel this way. And what types of situations make them feel this way?

    Listen to a range of responses.

  5. Ask the children to think about people who make them happy. You may wish to listen to some responses.

  6. Show Slide 9.

    Ask the children what each pair of pictures might represent. (The pictures are meant to indicate comparisons: bigger/smaller, more/less expensive, richer/poorer and so on.) From the children’s answers, tease out the fact that comparing ourselves to others is likely to make us unhappy. It is far better to be thankful for what we do have and for who we are.

Time for reflection

Take time to think about the things that we can be grateful for. Encourage the children to focus on being content with what they have and to concentrate on following their own paths in life without comparing themselves to others.

From these ideas, move the children on to think about some of the things for which they are most grateful, such as their homes, families, friends and so on.

Christians believe that they have a lot to be thankful to God for.

What can we be thankful for today?

You may wish to use one of the following prayers.

Dear God,
Thank you for the wonderful world in which we live.
Thank you for family and friends.
Thank you that each of us is different and special.
Please help us to remember to be thankful even when things are hard.
Thank you that you are always there with us in every situation.

Thank you, Lord, that true happiness and contentment can be found when we follow your path for our lives.
Please help us not to compare ourselves to other people, but instead to recognize our own special individuality.
Through this, may we always be people who bring joy to others through our attitude to life and our outlook on it.


‘Be happy’ by Doug Horley, available at: (2.50 minutes long) 

Publication date: November 2020   (Vol.22 No.11)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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