Teach Happiness for Greater Student Success

Happiness fuels success, not the other way around. When we are positive, our brains become more engaged, creative, motivated, energetic, resilient, and productive at teaching and learning.  This discovery has been repeatedly borne out by rigorous research in psychology and neuroscience, management studies, and the bottom lines of organizations around the globe.

Shawn Achor, Harvard researcher on happiness, and author of THE HAPPINESS ADVANTAGE, lists seven principles for Happiness

Principle #1: The Happiness Advantage

  • When we are happy—when our mindset and mood are positive—we are smarter, more motivated, and thus more successful. Happiness is the center, and success revolves around it.
  • Happiness boosters: meditation, looking forward to something, commit conscious acts of kindness, exercise, Spend money (but NOT on Stuff), exercise a Signature Strength.

Principle #2: The Fulcrum & The Lever
Changing your Peformance by changing your Mindset

  • Happiness is not about lying to ourselves, or turning a blind eye to the negative, but about adjusting our brain so that we see the ways to rise above our circumstances.
  • The mental construction of our daily activities, more than the activity itself, defines our reality.
  • The heart of the challenge is to stop thinking of the world as fixed when reality is, in truth, relative.

Principle #3 – The Tetris Effect
Training Your Brain to Capitalize on Possibility

  • Train your brain to scan the world for the opportunities and ideas that allow our success rate to grow.
  • The best way to kick-start this is to start making a daily list of the good things in your job, your career, and your life.

Principle #4 – Falling Up
Capitalizing on the downs to build Upward Momentum

  • Study after study shows that if we are able to conceive of a failure as an opportunity for growth, we are all the more likely to experience that growth
  • It’s about using that downward momentum to propel ourselves in the opposite direction. It’s about capitalizing on setbacks and adversity to become even happier, even more motivated, and even more successful. It’s not falling down, it’s falling up.

Principle #5 – The Zorro Circle
How Limiting Your Focus to Small, Manageable Goals Can Expand Your Sphere of Power

  • Feeling that we are in control, that we are masters of our own fate at work and at home, is one of the strongest drivers of both well-being and performance.
  • Happiness, and health have less to do with how much control we actually have and more with how much control we think we have.
  • No matter what you may have heard from motivational speakers, coaches, and the like, reaching for the stars is a recipe for failure.
  • As Harvard Business School professor Peter Bregman advises, “Don’t write a book, write a page.

Principle #6 – The 20-Second Rule
How to Turn Bad Habits into Good Ones by minimizing Barriers to Change

  • Common sense is not common action….
    That’s why even though doctors know better than anyone the importance of exercise and diet, 44 percent of them are overweight.
  • Our willpower weakens the more we use it.
  • The key to creating these habits is ritual, repeated practice, until the actions become ingrained in your brain’s neural chemistry. And the key to daily practice is to put your desired actions as close to the path of least resistance as humanly possible.

Priciple #7 – Social Investment
Why Social support is your single Greatest asset

  • social relationships are the single greatest investment you can make in the Happiness Advantage.
  •  The Ripple effect
    • Each one of us is like that butterfly (re: the butterfly effect). And each tiny move towards a more positive mindset can send ripples of positivity through our organizations, our families, and our communities.
    • Emotions are highly contagious… both negative emotions & positive emotions

Finally, imagine how happy you would be if all your interactions with your students were positive and pleasant.It sounds too good to be true, but it’s actually easy to do. Positive psychology researcher Michelle Gielan calls the Power Lead—to shift the social script toward positivity. Start every class with a positive topic before someone can start the social script with complaints or negativity. Watch how your students’ engagement and motivation improves in response to the power of your positivity.

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