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Touching Happiness with Strengths to Well-Being

The Institute and Academy for Children, Youth, and Family, in Graz, Austria invited teenagers to view the “Touching Happiness” photo composites created by Mandy Seligman with Jill Galloway Sherman. They were then asked to use the images as prompts to think on how they use their own strengths to make their lives better and to share the stories.


There are many things to savor. Most think about food or the quiet after a long day. Savoring is so much more and something, where most people don't give themselves the @me to experience it. Most of all, I enjoy being with the right people. A liEle thing that maEers so much. O8en, we do not even have to do something special to be able or to be allowed to enjoy savor. You can also enjoy the moment as it is and take @me for yourself. Every human enjoys different things, but one thing is the same for all. You can allow yourself to take the @me to enjoy and that at any @me. For that, you are never too young or too old. Take your @me – you deserve it! — Moll


I don´t take it for granted to have such great people in my life. I can always rely on you, independent of the circumstances. Therefore, I want to say thank you. Thank you, mama, that you are always watching out for me. You always trust me and let me go my own way. Thank you, grandma, that you are always there for me. With you, I can talk about anything, and we can also be very childish. Thank you, Loreen, that you always believe in me. You give me security and braveness and I can always rely on you. It is beautiful to see, that I have you all in my life.
— Vanessa

Who is in your boat

I am Fabian. I am very helpful and always want to build contact to others, if they don't annoy me. I always keep track of things in large groups and lead them to the goal. One of my greatest strengths is, that I share my knowledge with everyone and also try to respond to others. In school I often make orientation runs and help my classmates to find the way. It is important to me, that the group always sticks together.
— Fabian


For example, if I help other people in a team, I can find friends quicker. With teamwork it's the same, so that when two are not getting along, so that they can still become friends. My friends don't let me down, because I helped them, and they then help me. It is important that everyone is treated equally and that not one person is treated better, and one person is treated worse. I help everyone if they have an argument and don't get involved and say when it's enough. When someone was sitting alone upstairs, I went up and asked him, if everything is ok. And that's why I'm the sheriff of the institute.
— Anonymous


Forgiveness helps me, so that I can continue and lift off, even if I get pulled down by a millstone around my neck. You should never let negative things hold you back from moving forward. That also reminds me of the devil's snare in the “The philosopher´s stone” from Harry Potter. Resentment and vengeance only grow in dark and wet places and the more you resist, the harder it chokes you. But you can weaken the vengeance and with light and warmth. I see this light and warmth in the forgiveness.
— Katrin


Always a smile on my face! My name is Valentina, and I am 8 years old. I live with my grandma and my grandpa. I am always friendly and there for everybody. My gift is the friendship.
— Valentina


Self-regulation is important so that I do not always hit back or hurt somebody. I can do that because my mama taught me not to hit back. It makes no sense, because otherwise he hits back again. If somebody annoys you, you must not listen to it and go away.
— Matthias


“Being with myself”
I am alone. I don't have someone with whom I could talk. I am alone with myself. This is hard. But when I'm alone I recognize things, which I wouldn't have seen otherwise: The drop is heavy and at the same time beautiful. Soon it will fall. And with each drop that falls, the leave gets lighter and rises again. Without this drop, the leave would only be half as beautiful to look at.
— Anonymous

Harnessing Your Power

Wisdom means to me clear decision making and to have a bit of maturity. I think you don't need a specific age to be wise. It's not determined by the amount of experience, but the kind. It doesn't have to be a big amount. Each person has a different impression of a picture, but this doesn't have to be bad or good. I recognize strength, wisdom, and a certain power in this horse. This makes the picture, I think, so interesting and mysterious. Wisdom is important in my life, because it helps me to make decisions, which feels good to me.
— Vivien


It feels freeing. As if I could take a breath in a long time. Every time anew, when I am aware that nobody knows how it will turn out. Nobody can predict how life will take its course. The certainty, that whatever happens has a meaning and that I can handle it or can learn to handle it. That's what hope means to me. To partly give up control. I try to assume the good and try to find peace with the idea that you cannot control everything. The longer I think about it, the better I like this though.
— Louisa


Actually, everyone has persistence, some people are just not aware of it. There are always ups and downs in live and you always need a goal. And then, when you look back, you see what you already accomplished and that's motivating. Often it's also helpful to accept help from others because that gives you backing. When someone is at a low point, they need to think about their goal because the getting out of it and the fight is true persistence for me.
— Marie

Our Story / Fairness

I want to be just because I don't other people to be sad or to be lied to. Through my fairness I want to give something positive for the people. When it is fair, I am very happy. Then I smile more and am patient and relaxed. This way my best sides come out. The fairness should stay.
— Christian

Our Story / Fairness

Fairness and justice play such an important role for me since I am small because I've always been a person that stands up for others. Especially in school and in my circle of friends, fairness is an important point for me. If it's like that, that it is not fair, the friendship will not work. I as well needed to end a friendship not long ago because it was not a fair one and since that friendship ended, I am feeling much better. So, it doesn't matter if it's a relationship, friendship or in school. If it is not fair, you should do something about it.
— Carina

Our Story / Fairness

My name is Katharina, and I am 13 years old. My hobbies are mainly outdoors and are for example athletics, going for a walk, meeting friends, but also shopping. The topic of fairness is important to me because I think that everyone deserves to be treated fairly. Life is pure coincidence and if you are born in a poorer family in our world, you don't have the same opportunities as someone who is born into richer circumstances. That is a great example for injustice. The golden rule was surely established by a likeminded person. It says: Treat every person, like you want to be treated. I think that only when everyone is treated fairly, the whole world can be happy.
— Katharina

A Quiet Place = Spirituality

Mother of grace
Mother of Light
Everything is Grace
Don't fright

When raindrops knock on your window
then think quietly
they are greetings from me.
— Margarethe


I am pretty resilient. I am Maya and I am 10 years old. I like to play outside with my friends. My friends like that I am nice and funny. Since two and a half years I live with my grandparents. Everyone says I am brave because I am cheerful almost all the time. I don’t know exactly what they mean by that. It feels weird. I think later I will understand it better and until then, I stay the way I am.
— Maya, 10


I like the world. Sometimes I perhaps feel a bit lost in it. Then I run around and make nonsense. I prefer when there is a safe haven where I can lean on, where I feel protected. Then I can go out and about. And what I am particularly good at, is to make connections in my special way. Then I can make many things, then it goes bit by bit and then school soon starts. And two are the most important to me, Mama and Papa.
— Anonymous

Dreams = Creativity

I should write a text how creativity helps me to get ahead in life. That already started when I was a young child. Most of the time, I drew what I couldn't write. In that sense I helped myself do things that I wasn't able to do.

All of this dragged on until I was finally able to write. Though, I know from my grandmother that I never fully stopped drawing. The opposite is true. She told me that I further illustrated almost all my stories. She told me she has several folders full of drawings and stories. All of that was like a matter of course for me, since these creative hobbies brought me much joy...
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Beginning of February, I moved into a different shared flat. From there on my development started. I started to reflect, got into astrology and meditation. Every day I try to stand up for the important things like equal rights. Drawing and painting has always been an outlet for me. I learned to speak about my problems, deal with money and to have both feet on the ground again. And here I am. My whole live I fought to be loved. But what I always wanted was self-love. Sure, not everything is great all the time, but I did it. I soon get my own flat and can finally arrive home.
— Anonymous
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Drawing only became really important much later. When my problems started, when the first mobbing started in school, even though I am not sure what was really as bad as I interpreted it, I began to dismantle my frustration through drawings. Not many beautiful, but plentiful expressive drawings came from that, which in hindsight kept me from letting these emotions out on other people or worse, to bottle them up. I found a way to express my feelings for myself, without having to express them in words. I let my drawings speak for me and they were better at that then I will ever be able to. What fascinates me the most though, is that the creativity, the arts, could save my life in a certain way when no person seemed to be there who could. As my life seemed to reach its low point, drawing, and writing where the one thing that still worked out for me, that I could cling to. I spent days at my desk and tried to get my emotions on paper. And if I wouldn’t have done that, I don’t know if I would have held out until help arrived. But exactly that, I had done. I had held on! And the creativity in my life contributed a large, a very large part to that. I let the arts speak for me, which I couldn’t put into words at the time. And I somehow managed to get out of my rabbit hole and find ways for myself. From my point of view, my creativity tough me things a person never could. I learned to get up when no hope seems to be let. And yet, hope came back in the end. Another chance has been given to me, a new life to be specific. And if I hadn’t had the creativity, this important resource, at my lowest point, I might never have gotten this chance. And that’s how creativity helped me in my life.

— Anonymous