Saturday, October 19, 2013

the science of happiness

Last week, I asked my class to engage in an experiment.
I had them think of one person in their lives that is really important.
Then, they thought of the reasons why this person is so important.
They wrote letters to that person (mini-lesson: parts of a letter - score!).
Their homework over the weekend was to read the letter aloud to that person.
Some had to write emails as their letter was for someone in another country; some made phone calls to local family member or friends; some arranged visits with the help of their parents; some even got on Skype to share!
Afterward, I asked them to share what they noticed.
They came back with things like: 
"My dad put the letter on the fridge! He loved it!" 
"My mom put it up where she works in our house, like in her home office. Now when I see it there I always feel happy."
"It made me feel really, um, good!"
This was not my experiment:
I showed the kids this video afterward.
They stayed an extra ten minutes after the end of the school day talking about how the letters made them feel, what they noticed about the video, and how happiness is so important.
Grade three!
Yes, there are a couple of choice words in the video, so it's something to be mindful of.
(Of course, you can always skip that part if you're on the ball - it's not crucial.)
When the kids looked at each other with surprise and started talking about those words, I was able to simply and calmly ask, "Is that what's important in the video?"
It was a clear no and I didn't hear another word about it.
I really loved the rich discussion that came out of this experiment and I feel it's a great exercise for all of us!

PS - Anyone read "The Happiness Project" by Gretchen Rubin?

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