A news report released yesterday states that there is no correlation between happiness and long-term health. The happier you are or the less stress you have in your life does not necessarily mean you will live longer or have better health. In fact it might be the other way around: having a positive health record is what leads to happiness, as people who are ill tend to feel more depressed.
Hmmmm….this study seems to dismiss the importance of being happy for the sake of … well…. being happy! Happiness can, and should be, an end in itself.
At our school, we have focussed on improving our understanding of happiness and learning to recognize ways to increase happiness in ourselves and those around us. We have based our ideas on the Action for Happiness website, and our principal has blogged here about the importance of this challenge to our school. For the month of December we have implemented the Happiness Challenge, with each day bringing a new action to allow us to be more reflective, more appreciative, more connected with each other, and perhaps happier.
Will this lead to an increase in overall health, or a reduction in stress? Perhaps not. However, my class and I have taken the time to do every action since December 1st and I’ve noticed a few things with our challenge to date:
- Our connections with one another have improved. We have enjoyed more authentic conversations, taking the time to truly listen to one another and celebrate our collective strengths.
- We are more thankful and appreciative. Our class was silent for 30 minutes as everyone wrote a letter to someone who has helped them throughout the term. We challenged each other to read the letter to that person, and recognized how difficult this would be. Yet afterwards we reflected how happy it made us and others feel. Why don’t we do this more often?
- We recognize the power of our dreams. Sharing our dreams allows us to envision a better world and to feel like we are a part of something larger than ourselves.
- We are more tolerant and accepting, recognizing that we each have a role to play in not only making ourselves happier, but also in increasing the happiness of those around us.
- Personally, I have been reminded of the importance of slowing down and taking the time to reflect. As with my students, my first term has been filled with an immense amount of learning. Having a defined, daily action has reminded me to appreciate the people who have helped me, to celebrate my own accomplishments, and to more clearly articulate my hopes and dreams for the future… and definitely made me happier!
I look forward to the next week of our Happiness Challenge and to continuing daily actions for happiness in the New Year. I encourage everyone to take their own happiness challenge in this season of giving. It will be a wonderful gift to yourself and those around you!