Friday, January 13, 2017

The Happiness Hypocrite

This is a confession of sorts. I watched Shawn Achor's Ted Talk "The Happy Secret to Better Work".  I think of myself as a relatively happy person. I can see the positive in a lot of situations. So, I just kept doing what I have always done.

When we returned on January 2nd I actually wrote three things I was grateful for for a few days. I even had a situation during those few days that led to one of my three things where I needed to get a hold of Shaunda Garrison, our Math Coordinator. Every time I planned to call something else would need my attention. At 5:05pm I was in a position to call... knowing as I dialed that she was gone. To my surprise, she answered the phone. She cheerfully and teasingly told me how lucky I was to have caught her. I quickly responded, "I am so glad I did, in fact you are going to be one of my three things I am grateful for today!" We laughed and finished the conversation having the information I needed and the side benefit of a smile on my face and bringing happiness to another individual. In that moment I was grasping the "Happy Secret." However it didn't last. I quickly resumed my old approach of doing what I have always done. I was a Happiness Hypocrite.

I became aware I was a Happiness Hypocrite one evening after a very long day. My kids could tell by the look on my face and the weariness in my voice it had been "one of those days." My wise-beyond-her-years fourteen year old, turned the tables on me and used one of my classic mom "tell me about your day" techniques. She challenged me, asking, "Mom, what is one good thing about your day?" I first laughed, because I realized what she was doing, and then second, paused... a very long pause. I couldn't think of anything. I had let the day and the things that had occurred determine my happiness. I did finally come up with one thing, but in that moment I realized, I didn't have the "Happy Secret" and I was a Happiness Hypocrite. This HAD TO CHANGE!!!

An article I recently read "Is There a Happiness Advantage for Schools?" there is a quote from Shawn Achor that shifted my thinking. He states, "Happiness is not the belief that we don't need to change. It is the realization we can. Happiness and optimism are the precursors to success, not merely the result." It hit me... we have to have happiness to get there, it isn't what we do that generates the happiness. Happiness happens in spite of the situation... Happiness is what drives our hope, our belief and our "never give up" determination with our students.

After re-watching the Ted Talk and reflecting on the brief moment where I grasped the "Happy Secret" I began to wonder. I thought about how, as a campus, we started 2016-17 challenging the staff with the "Growth Mindset" based on Carol Dweck's work that was presented by Nicole Covarelli and Susanna Craig. What would happen if we, as a campus, did the 21 Day challenge mentioned by Shawn Achor in his Ted Talk? What would it hurt to try?

So my challenge to you all is to do the 21 Day Challenge. Every day starting this week (starting Sunday 1/15, Monday 1/16 or Tuesday 1/17) write down three things you are grateful for at the end of the day until February 4th-ish (depending on when you start). This is not required, but if someone makes your list on one of the days, share that with them... it will make you smile and I guarantee it will brighten their day!

If you are already doing this... awesome you may already have the "Happy Secret." The rest of us will be joining you soon.

As I have heard so many times in education, "Make it a great day or not. The choice is yours!"

I know what my choice will be! #happiness #21dayhappinesschallenge


  1. I'm in!! Started my "Thankful 3" today!!

    1. Megan, so glad you have been doing this! How is it going now that we are a little over 2 weeks into this? I know it has changed my lens when looking at many different situations.

  2. I love this idea! I often find myself being a "Happiness Hypocrite", especially when I get home. I think I will start writing what I am thankful for each day on the bathroom mirror. That way it is the first thing my husband and I see each morning. What a great way to start the day!

    1. What a great plan you have made, Tracie! How has it been working for you? I know seeking to see the best and the possible for me has helped me to look for the silver lining in every situation.