Because I'm Happy!
This week is being celebrated as world happiness week. The very fact that there is a celebration makes me happy. As I completed a survey which was supposedly to measure my perception of happiness, I thought of what I believed happiness to be. I came up with one word A-G-I-L-I-T-Y. For me, happiness means agility.
Life comes with many bumps, twists and turns, highs and lows. That is what makes life interesting I suppose. In this our fast-paced, ever-changing world, it can be difficult to find lasting happiness but our ability to bounce back from life’s challenges is what will really determine if we become and remain happy. What if we could train ourselves to be more agile in our pursuit of joy? That's the idea behind "happiness agility".
So, what exactly is happiness agility? It's the ability to adapt to changing circumstances and find joy in a variety of situations. Rather than relying on a single source of happiness (such as our jobs, relationships, or even our hobbies), happiness agile persons are able to find contentment in a range of experiences. According Dr. Laura Schenck, a clinical psychologist and happiness agility advocate, "People who are happiness agile are like gymnasts. They're able to do all kinds of different flips and twists and land on their feet. They're not just relying on one trick to get them through." The research is telling; happiness agility is a powerful predictor of resilience and the ability to recover from difficult experiences. It is believed that people who are more happiness agile tend to have lower levels of anxiety, depression, and stress, and are better able to cope with challenges such as job loss, illness, relationship problems or even working in a hostile environment.
But how do you become more happiness agile? I have found that the most important key to cultivate a growth mindset, which involves believing that your abilities can be developed through hard work and dedication. This mindset allowed me to approach challenges with a sense of curiosity and a willingness to learn, rather than a fear of failure.
Another important strategy is practicing mindfulness. By staying present in the moment and observing my thoughts and emotions without judgment, I developed greater awareness of what brings me joy and what doesn't. This helped me in making more intentional choices about how I spend my time and energy
Here are some other helpful tips that I have found to be useful in cultivating my own happiness agility:
1. Practicing gratitude is a helpful strategy we often underestimate. Regularly taking time to focus on the things I am grateful for, helped to maintain a more positive outlook on life, even when things are tough. I have found that a simple task as admiring a blooming flower on my front porch, or listening to the birds chirping outside my window, would positively impact my outlook for the entire day.
2. Focus on what you can control. When faced with a difficult situation, I have found that it is important to focus on the things I can control rather than worrying about the things I cannot. After all being a person of faith, I am being reminded constantly being reminded to ‘fret not’. By focusing on taking positive action in areas where I have agency, I am able to maintain a greater sense of control and well-being.
3. Cultivate positive relationships. Having a strong social support networks can be a powerful buffer against stress and adversity. Make an effort to cultivate positive relationships with friends, family members, and colleagues, and seek out opportunities for social connection and support. I am not an extrovert, but I do find that my spirits are lifted when I am around the right people. After all, we are human beings together, each having his or her own role to play in this universally massive social network called life.
The bottom line is, happiness agility requires a willingness to step outside your comfort zone and try new things. Whether it's taking up a new hobby, exploring a new place, or meeting new people, exposing ourselves to new experiences can help us build resilience and adaptability. Writing this blog is part of my own journey towards happiness.
Of course, no one is happy all the time, and happiness agility doesn’t mean ignoring negative emotions or difficult situations. But by developing the skills to find joy in a variety of circumstances, we can build a more fulfilling and resilient life. So, whether you are feeling stuck in a rut or just looking for a new approach to happiness, consider cultivating your happiness agility. Who knows what kind of flips and twists you might be capable of?
By Shellon Samuels-White (Executive Director - Jamaica ASCD Affiliate; Emerging Leader 2022)
@Shellon Samuels-White I appreciate this post. It is a welcome reminder of how importance happiness is within our field. I like the concept of happiness agility. I feel like I do a good job modeling happiness agility and I tend to modify my approach toward others based on the emotions they are conveying, in order to avoid any "toxic positivity" while continuing to find joy in our work.
I'm wondering, how do you approach modeling happiness agility within the context of a larger audience? In other words, when I'm standing in front of 100 teachers to present professional development and each of them brings in a different energy, how do I demonstrate this concept without seeming disconnected from their frustrations?3
Thank you Apryl for your comment - much appreciated!
I also got the sense that you are a very 'happy agile' person.
In regards to your question, I think that it is important to demonstrate your own level of happiness without appearing to be 'disconnected from other people's frustrations'. I usually approach large audiences beginning with an 'emotional check-in' activity. Just to sort of promote engagement from the very start. I would also acknowledge their frustrations expressed. E.g. If it is a teacher PD session, I would have them do a quick poll on how they feel about attending and why? I would then share the poll results and acknowledge their feelings. Eg. I see where "most persons think 'this is a waste of time' but I do hope that at the end of the session, you would have gained some new knowledge/skill you can use to improve on their work.
You can anticipate some of the frustrations they may come with and try to tailor your presentation to treat some of these as best as you can. For example, if usually teachers feel that workshops are 'more of the same' then you can be intentional in highlighting what's 'different' about this one.
Those are some of the ways I try to 'be happy' whilst being mindful that not all of our circumstances are the same. Thanks again for taking the time to read and share your thoughts.2
@Shellon Samuels-White Thank you so much for sharing! Sometimes we can lose track of what bring us pure joy! You provided great insight and reminders that I needed TODAY! Focus on what I can control, and let the rest roll away. Thanks again!2
@Shellon Samuels-White What a fantastic suggestion! I love that idea. I have a PD session to lead next week so I will propose starting it with an emotional check-in activity!1
The power in sharing our ideas!0