Monday, June 13, 2011
The Happiness Project
After a rough year, I found this book on the Barnes and Noble shelf calling my name. Gretchen Rubin has some great ideas about finding your own happiness in your life. She embarked on this journey not from a state of unhappiness or depression but with the goal of making the most of all moments in her life. She didn't travel to other countries but stayed right where she was. She focuses on different components of her happiness each month and comes out with her 12 Commandments and her Secrets of Adulthood. Here are some of the points I gained from her book and I hope to pass on....
"Act the way I want to feel." - The way we are acting tends to rub off on those around us. If you are around upset, bitter, negative people, those emotions tend to transfer to you. Likewise, when I am having a rough day, it transfers to those I am around - whether it be the students in my class, my colleagues, or my friends. I was recently sitting in a meeting that I did not want to be a part of (for a multitude of reasons) and I tried to put a smile on my face. Now, I don't know if it effected those around me but I started to feel more at ease. I wasn't necessarily happy to be there but I didn't feel as negative and down.
"Spend out." - This just gives you permission to go ahead and make each day special. Don't save the china plates or the fancy dress for "some other time" go ahead and use it now. I catch myself doing this in the classroom - hoarding supplies for that next great project. My students were working on their end of year scrapbooks and I was very tempted to save fancy paper and special stickers - but for what? Instead, I got it all out and let the students go for it. It didn't hurt me and the students got so much joy out of all the special supplies.
"Lighten up." - This was a goal for an entire month and it was devoted to parenthood. In my case it applies to teaching. Gretchen's goals were to sing in the morning, acknowledge the reality of people's feelings, be a treasure house of happy memories, and take time for projects. I would love to focus on the first two. My greeting each student in the morning we start the say on a good note but it could be better. On the days when I sing a greeting my mom use to use, I feel happier and the kids (while they laugh) tend to be lifted up - "Then up comes the sun, The dew falls away, Good Morning Good Morning the little birds say." I found a link to welcome music and want to try it out in my class next year. Also with responsive classroom, I take time to listen to students feelings however I don't always 100% do it. I need to listen and reiterate what they said so they know I am listening closely and validate their feelings. This year I noticed the impact of telling a student: "It's okay to be mad/angry/sad, but it is not okay to yell/punch/hit/grab/(insert inappropriate response)." I then went on to focus on the alternative response they should have...count to 10, take a deep breath, walk away, etc.
“It is easy to be heavy: hard to be light.” G. K. Chesterton
"The days are long, but the years are short."