TEDtalks have always held my interest and been a source of enjoyment for me. However, these last two weeks, especially the last couple of days, I have a newfound love for them. They can bring such diverse topics into conversation and into the spotlight. I appreciate how these people how taken the time to share their findings, heart, and passions with the world.
That being said, one of my new favorites is Shawn Anchor’s talk titled “The Happy Secret to Better Work.” (You can find Shawn Anchor’s talk below.) I think part of why I have found this particular talk engaging is because of my love for psychology. I actually took a Positive Psychology class my sophomore year in college and it was one of favorite classes.
Shawn Anchor discusses the science of happiness. It is a common belief that the more external things and successes people have, the more happy and successful they feel. One of my favorite points Anchor makes is that our happiness is affected by the way we view the world and our circumstances not the measure of our external world and possessions. This means we need to practice focusing on the positives and changing the lens through which we view happiness rather than focusing on the negatives.
In my Positive Psychology class, each week my professor would have all of us students share one positive event or thing that happened or something for which we were grateful. Each week we, including our professor, would spend time reflecting on our week and pick one special event. It got to the point where I looked forward to going to class so that I could share my positive in an environment that was supportive of each other and celebrated with each other. I noticed it also got easier each week because I was becoming accustomed to searching for the positive and not the negative. (One of my favorite Grateful Mondays was when I shared I received a scholarship and was going to attend CSC!)
Positive Psychology is a relatively new branch of psychology but it has become one that is so important. It has an impact on life in general, yes, but also a large impact on education. We should be teaching our students to reverse the equation from:
hard work + success → happiness
happiness → more hard work + more success.
If we can do this, believe me, we will be doing them a favor. Students can never truly experience happiness based on success because once they achieve the score we set for them, we simply raise the score. Instead, we should be first creating positive, encouraging, supportive, and happy environments for our students to work in which, in turn, provides motivation, creativity, and success.
See, students need to be in an environment which fosters their learning and growth. If our students are focusing on the negatives and never truly reaching success, they get burnt out, tired and unmotivated to keep working. If our classrooms are positive environments, we can teach our students to focus on the positives and celebrate their victories thus producing more dopamine in our students. (Dopamine helps the body to be happy and actually jump starts the learning centers in the brain.) Furthermore, when students are positive and happy, they are more efficient at their work and put in more effort.
Anchors offers 5 strategies to practice to rewire the brain to be more positive and happy. These strategies could be incorporated into our classrooms in ways such as sharing a positive or gratitude, journaling about them, incorporating exercise and brain energizers, and encouraging acts of kindness. Practicing these strategies can help any person, however, I think it is vital to teach to our students. Establishing a positive learning environment will help our students thrive and offer them a more fulfilling life.
I leave you with a question : Do you want to be happy?
A Teacher Promoting Positive Psychology and Happiness