A gift for happiness

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Recently, several students gave me a gift: a wooden bowl they had made in their woodwork class. These are the students I enjoy insulting in my technology classes.

What struck me about their gift was not only the time they had spent  constructing the bowl, but their obvious delight in presenting it to me. This reminded me of a TED video on what makes us happy. If you’ve never seen a TED lecture then I encourage you to visit the website and explore the varied themes and presenters on offer.

Anyway, the TED happiness videos are based on recent findings about the human brain. As you might guess, happiness has nothing to do with money, career success or material wealth.

One of the presentations –  The Happy Secret to Better Work – was given by Shawn Achor. Shawn is the CEO of Good Think Inc where he teaches positive psychology. Recent brain research has led him to conclude  that you can rewire your thoughts to create a more positive worldview. He offers some key steps to achieving this.

One of the steps is to conduct a random act of kindness.

This explains the expressions on the faces of the boys who presented me with their gift. They wanted nothing in return (no bribes for increasing their overall grades) but genuinuely wanted to give something back to their teacher. This made us all  happy. They were happy because they were experiencing the joy of a random act of kindness and I was happy because it is rare for teenage boys to give their teachers anything other than a headache. I suddenly felt appreciated.

A  random act of kindness is uplifting and so is writing about it because recording the experience reinforces the positive feeling. Therefore, I can extend my positive worldview by writing about my students’ gift.

Everyone wins and I now have a nice wooden bowl to fill with lollies.

The video link is of Shawn’s TED presentation and explains his research.

Related Post:
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Rewire your brain for a better life

Author: Sue Bell
Sue Bell is an entertainment writer and author of Backpacked: A mostly true story, Beat Street and When Dreamworks came to Stanley.