Archive | April, 2011

Steps to Lasting Happiness

28 Apr

My students are experimenting with different genres, and I’m doing the same project they are. Today we talked about writing ‘how-to’ and ‘instructional’ pieces. I think I’d like this to become a top ten kind of thing, starting with 10 and working down to the one most important step. That means I’ll have to add four more steps, and reorder them all. I’m open to any and all suggestions!

Steps to Lasting Happiness

 1. Surround yourself with people you care about and people you know care about you.

 2. Find your passion in life and enthusiastically pursue it.

 3. Live with honesty and integrity.

 4. Play equally as hard as you work.

 5. Put yourself and your family first, but give to others as much as you can.

6. Make healthy living a top priority, being proactive rather than reactive to your health.

“When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down “happy”. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment. I told them they didn’t understand life.” — John Lennon


More on Happiness

20 Apr

I recently gave my students an interesting project where I encouraged them to ask big life questions, those kinds of questions that don’t have a definitive answer. They may have many different answers, but not one specific one. Some of their questions have been:

  • What happens to you when you die, or do humans have souls that live on after their bodies die?
  • Why do bad things happen to good people?
  • If we could control our every emotion, would we be perfect?
  • Are their other planets in the solar system that sustain intelligent life?
  • If there is an afterlife, is there a beforelife?

My students have asked some fantastic and interesting questions. I’m doing the project along with them, hence all the writing about happiness. My big question is: Is it realist to expect happiness?

Once my students have their question they must draw out a theme; mine is: true happiness. Then, they must find a book, fiction or non-fiction, that deals with their theme. I’m reading The Book of Awesome by Neil Pasricha. They’ll read their book, and do all kinds of writing exploring different genres through their chosen theme. So far, I’ve drafted three poems along with my post about happiness a couple of days ago. I’m excited to see what my students will do!

After my post a couple of days ago Leanne, a friend of mine from London, Ontario emailed me and shared her post from a couple of years ago on happiness. Leanne linked to her friend’s blog about happiness and there I found the lyrics to a song about happiness from You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. I shared these lyrics with my students yesterday as we started to write free verse poetry, and last night one of my students emailed me a youtube clip from the cartoon version. Here it is, enjoy!

Happiness ~ Andy Brown

18 Apr

As a follow up to my post yesterday, I wanted to share with you a music video by one of my favourite artists, Andy Brown. This is his song titled “Happiness“.


17 Apr

Everyone I know wants to be happy, but it seems like so few people truly are. I used to think of happiness in terms of the future. When I was a child I thought I’d be happier when I got old enough to make my own decisions and be in charge of my own life. I thought happiness would come with independence. When I was a teenager I thought I’d be happy if I could be skinnier, get my braces off, graduate from high school, etc. As a young adult I thought I’d be happier when I got married and had children of my own. But, sometime between then and now I realized that I was always waiting to be happy sometime in the future. Now, I think that happiness is a choice, a mindset. So, if happiness is a choice, why then does it seem like so many people are unhappy? If happiness is truly a choice, wouldn’t everyone choose it? I think people don’t choose happiness because they don’t think they can, they don’t think of it in terms of a choice, they need a paradigm shift.

People often try to obtain happiness by making changes in their life. I’m losing weight right now, and I always thought that would make me happy. But, I’ve realized that while I’m happy to be losing weight, it isn’t making me happy. There are material things I’d like to have, but I don’t want them so much that I’m willing to go into debt for them. I think I’ve always realized that stuff doesn’t make me happy. I’ve been both happily and unhappily married, but I’ve realized that I cannot rely on any relationship to make me happy.

Happiness is something you choose, day-by-day and hour-by-hour. It isn’t always the easy choice to make. Life gives us lots of reasons to be cranky, sad, stressed-out, and depressed. Sometimes a choice to be happy means you have to take care of yourself first. Sometimes it means you have to choose to see the cup as half-full. Sometimes it means you have to realize, this too shall pass. Sometimes you just have to give in to your emotions. No one can feel happy all the time, but like love happiness isn’t a feeling. Happiness is about finding the joy in the present, and delight in the small things.

When I look back on the times in my life when I’ve felt happiest, there are two situations which I recall bringing the most joy. The first is when I’ve spent quality and quantity time with my extended family and closest friends. Sometimes, especially when I find myself stressed out about work, I have to remind myself of my priorities. My family is my number one priority and dedicating time to what I consider my priority makes me happy. The second situation when I recall being tremendously happy is when I’ve given selflessly to those who need and appreciate what I have to give. The old adage—it is better to give than to receive—is so true. Giving things is fun, but giving my time and talents is even more exciting. Anyone who has the financial resources can give money or things, but giving your precious time show that you truly care and it has the power to change someone’s life. When I give of my time to those who need and appreciate what I have to offer, it makes me happy.

I choose to live my life in happiness. But, I still have one question, why do I constantly have to remind myself to make that choice?

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