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  • I have what some consider to be one of the toughest jobs on the planet.

  • I am a mom.

  • (Cheers) (Applause)

  • Yes! Yes!

  • I am a parent to three very busy little boys

  • who magically think I'm a doctor,

  • a baker, a coach, a chef, a therapist

  • and have the patience of a saint 24/7.

  • I truly do my best

  • and some days are definitely better than others,

  • especially the part about having the patience of a saint.

  • I want what most parents want for my kids.

  • I want them to have a happy childhood.

  • I want them to be free to play, build friendships,

  • grow to be kind, compassionate, happy adults.

  • But there seems to be one small challenge.

  • The World Happiness Report states

  • at any one time

  • over 220 million children

  • and 1 billion adults

  • suffer from anxiety, depression, and conduct disorders.

  • Not exactly a pretty picture of happy people on a happy planet.

  • Unfortunately, as adults, whether you're a parent or not,

  • this is what our children are learning from us.

  • You see how busy we are every day.

  • They feel our stress,

  • and they watch us struggle to find our own happiness.

  • How do we go from anxiety and depression to happy?

  • Some good news.

  • The World Happiness Report also states

  • the best predictor of whether a child becomes a satisfied adult

  • is through their emotional health in childhood.

  • So if I have this right, it should be easy.

  • Happy children, happy adults, happy planet; yes.

  • (Laughter)

  • This is the exact lesson I learned from my dad.

  • When I was a little girl,

  • growing up in the big city of London, Ontario,

  • every Christmas morning

  • my dad would take my three sisters and I to his office.

  • You see my dad was a doctor and his office, a hospital.

  • It was our job to stand around the beds of his patients

  • and sing Christmas carols.

  • We started with the same song every time,

  • and my dad, he'd lead the singing.

  • Now, this is probably a TEDx first, so join me if you know it.

  • (Singing) We wish you a Merry Christmas; we wish you a Merry Christmas,

  • we wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

  • (Stops singing)

  • (Cheers) (Applause)

  • You guys are amazing,

  • I am signing you all up for this year.

  • (Laughter)

  • And look at your smiles.

  • We did this every Christmas morning for years.

  • Those patients, they sing along with us,

  • just like you did.

  • And their smiles, their smiles would light up their hospital rooms.

  • This is what I learned from our singing.

  • Giving back to those patients,

  • it made them happy, and it made me happy.

  • And we've all heard

  • that giving makes you happy and it's better to give than receive.

  • But have you actually thought of why?

  • Well, researchers from all over the world

  • have been studying the science and psychology of giving.

  • They've discovered

  • that our brains and our bodies are actually hardwired for giving.

  • When we give, our endorphins kick in,

  • giving us this natural high feeling.

  • They've actually called it the "helper's high."

  • Our oxygen levels rise, this would be our love hormone.

  • And for those of you

  • that have been looking for the Fountain of Youth,

  • it's our body's natural anti-aging remedy.

  • And that feeling I got when I volunteer with my dad,

  • that's serotonin, our body's happy transmitter.

  • But here's the icing on the cake.

  • Our cortisol levels drop.

  • This is our stress hormone.

  • Giving reduces anxiety and stress and it makes us happy.

  • Now what if I told you,

  • you could be happy every day, and it's simple.

  • In fact, it's so simple a three-year-old can do it.

  • Well, on my first son Nick's third birthday,

  • I decided I was going to teach him how he could be happy every day.

  • I was going to teach Nick to give.

  • I introduced the idea over a birthday cake and ice cream:

  • "Nick, we are going to start this super-fun family project together.

  • We are going to give back to the world every day for one year."

  • Now I waited to see the excitement on his face -

  • that excitement that I was feeling -

  • and instead, he says, "Mommy, how many days are in a year?"

  • (Laughter)

  • Oh yeah, not exactly the response I was looking for,

  • but Nick was just three.

  • I had to approach this daily giving idea a little differently.

  • Still, I got out some craft paper and a big box of crayons,

  • and I started again:

  • "Nick, we're going to do one thing to be kind, helpful, giving

  • to a person, an animal, or the planet

  • every day for 365 days."

  • Now, when I shared this idea with friends and the family,

  • they thought I was being, shall we say, a little ambitious.

  • I was going to give back to the world every day for 365 days

  • with a three-year-old.

  • I agreed, it seemed like a lot,

  • but not when you start small, just one give, one day at a time.

  • Nick and I started a list, just to get us going,

  • had to be easy and close to home.

  • Donate towels and blankets for a local animal shelter,

  • pick up garbage, recycle,

  • give clothes to a favorite charity; and our list went on.

  • Well, Nick quickly caught on,

  • and now he was excited.

  • He was actually so excited

  • he wanted to start that day, on his birthday.

  • So, first stop,

  • down at the local animal shelter to donate towels and blankets.

  • When we walked into that shelter

  • you instantly got hit

  • by this smell of somewhere between wet dog and disinfectant.

  • We could hear dogs barking.

  • I knew they were locked in cages; they were behind a closed door.

  • Nick handed our towels and blankets over to the nice lady behind the desk.

  • She gave us a big smile and she thanked us for our donation.

  • Well, as we turned to leave,

  • Nick noticed two big glass doors that led into a room filled with cats.

  • He went up to that glass and he peered in,

  • and then he turned to me and said,

  • "Mommy, can you see those cats sleeping on that red blanket back there.

  • Will our blankets be for those cats?"

  • He turned to the nice lady behind the desk and she said, "You bet."

  • You'd just see Nick's little brain going.

  • He was making the connection

  • that his daily give was going to help those cats.

  • Nick learned that very first day,

  • as he turned to me and he smiled and he said,

  • "Awesome, Mom,"

  • that giving made him happy.

  • Day two, down at the beach for a little fun in the sun and a game:

  • how much garbage could we pick up in three minutes or less

  • because that was the attention span of my three-year-old.

  • (Laughter)

  • Day three, we took that garbage and we sorted it.

  • At the ripe old age of three, Nick learned to recycle.

  • Well, daily giving quickly became a routine for Nick,

  • just like kind of brushing his teeth.

  • Well, actually come to think of it,

  • it would be easier to teach a three-year-old to give every day

  • than it is to brush their teeth every day, for sure.

  • Nick asked if we could share our daily giving adventures

  • with our friends and family,

  • so they could follow along.

  • So that very first day

  • I started a blog and I called it 365give.

  • Now, just so you know,

  • I am not a writer or some social media guru,

  • so you can imagine how surprised I was

  • when people started reading the blog other than my friends and family.

  • They started reading and engaging from all over the world.

  • They send me emails and leave comments with their daily giving stories

  • because they were inspired by Nick.

  • Actually, I was so excited I'm going to share just a few with you today.

  • So, Henry from London, England, wrote:

  • "I walk past the same homeless man every day on my way to work.

  • Today I brought him breakfast,

  • he was so grateful I stopped,

  • it's going to be my daily give every day from now on."

  • Arwoney from Lira, Uganda:

  • "I took four children that live on a street near my home to lunch today.

  • The children were so happy to have a meal,

  • and for the first time in a long time they felt like somebody cared."

  • Amy from Australia:

  • "I'm a grade four teacher,

  • and I started 365give, a daily giving practice, in my classroom."

  • Well, this one - this one took me by surprise.

  • Could you really teach 365give in a classroom?

  • I didn't know, I was just a mom.

  • But as fate has it,

  • I get a call from my good friend Sarah.

  • She's a local elementary school teacher

  • and she says, "Jacqueline,

  • I want to take the 365give concept into my classroom.

  • Actually, my entire school."

  • Well, we were both so excited, we went to work.

  • We created an educational program,

  • a tool for teachers that integrates a simple daily giving practice

  • with their curriculum,

  • we called it the 365give challenge.

  • It's unique

  • because it's powered by the kids.

  • They choose how they're going to give,

  • support causes and impact the world in ways that they choose.

  • We started in Sarah's school,

  • and I actually couldn't wait to hear how the kids were going to give.

  • A few weeks into the challenge,

  • I went down

  • and I met with a grade two class, seven-year-old kids.

  • When I walked into that classroom,

  • I'm not sure who was more excited,

  • me or the kids.

  • First up was Arman,

  • he waved his hand frantically,

  • he just couldn't wait to tell me

  • all about the fresh-baked cookies they had made

  • and delivered to their local firehouse.

  • They want to thank the firefighters for all they did in their community.

  • Arman was just beaming with pride.

  • Next up was Mia.

  • Well, Mia's little cousin had suffered from cancer that year,

  • and the kids, the entire class,

  • they decided they were going to do a popcorn sale, right at school.

  • They raised 252 dollars, over recess,

  • and they donated it to a charity that supports kids with cancer.

  • But this is the part that just about had me in tears

  • because I could never have dreamed

  • that my super fun family project with my son

  • could cause a ripple to so many.

  • And it's what their teacher, Mrs., said to me,

  • "Jacqueline, my kids

  • are understanding how their actions can make a better world.

  • It's connected them to each other and their community,

  • and most importantly, it's making my classroom happy."

  • The 365give challenge has now touched over 5,000 children in 25 schools,

  • and we have only just begun.

  • (Cheers) (Applause)

  • Thank you.

  • (Cheers) (Applause)

  • The kids are sharing their daily giving stories with other kids,

  • and it's creating a ripple

  • into their families, their communities, and around the world.

  • The challenge was created for kids, but it's actually for all of us,

  • doesn't matter where you live, what you do or how old you are.

  • Just imagine if we all did it.

  • It started with just one child giving every day,

  • that's 365 daily gives.

  • We shared, and it's rippled to right here,

  • with all of you.

  • Now, let's take everybody in this room,

  • over 2,000 people, times 365 daily gives,

  • that is over 700,000 daily gives.

  • It's no longer just one child giving every day,

  • but each and every one of us

  • creating a better world, a happier world,

  • and it's so simple a three-year-old can do it.

  • It's a daily habit, just like brushing your teeth.

  • Start your list today,

  • take a look at your life, your world, your family, your day,

  • do what works for you.