A few years ago, I was inspired by a TED Talk given by Shawn Achor, CEO of Good Think Inc., entitled "The Happy Secret to Better Work." Achor asserts in his talk that people in our society tend to believe that we should work hard in order to be happy, and he suggests that this way of thinking could be backwards. He argues that happiness makes us more productive, creative, and successful. In short, happiness should come first. At the end of his talk, Achor shares some ways that people can use to focus on the positive aspects of their lives and become happier. After watching the talk, I tried one of these ways with my students, and it had a wonderful effect on the children and the learning environment as a whole. I call it "The Happiness Project," and it has become a yearly tradition in my classroom.
Beginning this coming Monday, my students and I will kickoff this year's edition. Achor makes the point that individuals who try this idea for 21 straight days can train themselves to think differently about their lives and actually re-wire their brains. The idea is to think of three things in your life for which you are grateful. So, for three weeks (fifteen consecutive school days) my students and I will do this. At the end of our daily, morning movement warm-up routine, I will give everyone about a minute of quiet "think" time. Then I will ask several volunteers to share their "gratitudes" with the class. During this daily gratitude activity the primary challenge will be to think of new things every day. By the end of our three-week endeavor, the hope is that students, over time, will realize just how many positive things they have in their lives, and as a result, the classroom environment will change, their overall perspective will expand, and we can all more easily find that positive mindset that is so critical for performing at our highest levels and producing our highest quality, most creative work.
I have seen wonderful results arise from this exercise over the past few years, and I'm very much looking forward to getting started with my fourth graders. I invite you and your students to join us in this endeavor. In the coming weeks, I will be sharing some of the "gratitudes" my students express on my Facebook page, and I invite you to do the same. I believe this type of professional collaboration to be highly valuable, and it would be great to learn from one another.