I write about a lot of scientific studies on this blog. Recently, for example, I’ve written about research linking certain brain regions to delay aversion in ADHD and research on how people with ADHD have higher rates of tic disorders.

ChildToday I want to talk about a different kind of study. The design of this study isn’t overly sophisticated.

In the study, the researchers gathered a group of 20 children with ADHD between the ages of 7 and 11 and asked them a simple question: what makes life good?

Of course, different kids had different answers, but the researchers found three running themes in the what the children said made their lives good: activity, nature and connections with other people.

Are these answers any different than the answers kids without ADHD would give? Not necessarily, but that’s kind of the point.

Part of coping with ADHD is about managing symptoms and having insight into the disorder, but part of it is simply about enjoying the things that make life good.

Understanding and treating your symptoms will help lay the groundwork for good mental health, but managing your symptoms in and of itself doesn’t make for a satisfying life. It puts you in a better position to take advantage of the things that do make life good – things like activities you enjoy, nature and connections with other people.

Another interesting aspect of this study is that it flies in the face of the idea popular in the media that ADHD is a disorder having to do with the “modern lifestyle.” When asked what makes life good, the children with ADHD didn’t say “eating Twinkies and playing video games.” Clearly, these kids are getting out, enjoying nature, and connecting with other people – and they still have ADHD symptoms.

Does this study give us any specific insights into ADHD symptoms? Not really. There’s a larger point: part of building a happy life with ADHD is about coping with ADHD in particular, and part is just about building a happy life in general.

So along with developing insight into ADHD and implementing new coping mechanisms, don’t forget to smell the roses. Or, taking the three themes of a good life that the children in the study give us: don’t forget to smell the roses while doing an activity with other people.

Image: Flickr/greg westfall