Saturday, 17 March 2012 17:45

Putting Happiness First, Part 2 (Teaching Tip #64)

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Last week I shared an idea I recently learned from an inspiring TED Talk by Shawn Achor, CEO of Good Think Inc., entitled “The Happy Secret to Better Work.” A big idea in this 12-minute presentation is that in our society people tend to believe that we should work hard in order to be happy. Achor 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 for people to focus on the positive aspects of their lives and become happier.

This past Monday I tried one of his suggestions. At the end of our morning movement warm-up routine, I asked my students to think of three things in their lives for which they are grateful. I gave everyone a minute of quiet think time and then asked for volunteers who were willing to share one or more of their ideas with the class.

The volunteers gave a variety of responses. Specifically, they mentioned being grateful for shelter, their baseball team, friends, food, sports, books, and basketball. We repeated this exercise over the next four mornings and will continue to do so for the next couple weeks, as Achor recommends.

I was curious to see how student responses would evolve over the course of the week. I thought that the kids might have difficulty later in the week coming up with things to say. I thought that after mentioning family, friends, school, food, and shelter early in the week, many of my kids would struggle to generate new ideas, but that didn’t happen. Between Tuesday and Friday, students shared that they were grateful for things, such as health, America, classmates, freedom of religion, siblings, William Shakespeare, the environment, math, money, the opportunity to learn, and peace.

I am excited to begin our second with this activity on Monday. It will be interesting to see what new ideas the kids generate and whether this exercise leads to positive changes in students’ moods and productivity.

New Teaching Tips appear every Sunday of the school year.