By Lucy Warburg, Outside Contributor
“The Science of Happiness” is a fascinating and truly enjoyable class which focuses on achieving happiness through life management skills and self-awareness.
Naturally a happy person, by enrolling in this class I have found even more ways of achieving happiness in life, particularly at a time when many teens experience peak stress and anxiety due to college admissions and other major life decisions.
Several key concepts have been revolutionary for me. This class is teaching me the “Power of Yet”: that teachers in school should not give a student an “F” but instead note “Not Yet,” which means that the student should understand that he or she hasn’t mastered that particular class YET, but through hope and perseverance the student may come to mastery of the required skills and information.
This attitude of continuous learning (rather than dismissive labeling) also helps students to cultivate a “growth mindset,” in which a person consciously embraces challenges and set-backs as necessary to learning valuable abilities, skills, and knowledge. We have also learned to keep our focus on the positive things in life: at the start of each class we write down on our Happiness Calendar whatever the prompt may be for that day, for example, “Choose to see something good about what has gone wrong.”
This mental discipline helps me find something good in every day, even if I’ve been experiencing stress. These exercises each morning are helpful and inspire me with the truth that people can find something good even on their darkest days. Our classroom discussions have examined why there is rampant depression, especially among teenagers; researchers have linked depression with addiction to social media and other toxic substances.
The reporting of current events – the news – can also be a toxin to which people are addicted, which fosters depression and a culture of negativity.
Another surprising fact which emerged in this class is that income, past a certain point, does not bring happiness in life; relationships and connections do. The documentary “Happy” explores the nature of happiness and how to achieve it; I am going to recommend that this movie is screened at my high school, because I think its stories and message could truly help my peers. This class essentially made me realize the power of our choices: we have the power to choose what we focus on, and the mindset with which we encounter challenges. A truly happy life is within your reach!