Many of us will remember Bobby McFerrin’s song – Don’t Worry, Be Happy. Just listening to the song would make us smile and we would become even happier. The song is particularly relevant today as we wake up to an uncertain and somewhat fearful time. Amid the fun of the song there is considerable wisdom, as in the verse below:
Now there, is this song I wrote
I hope you learned note for note
Like good little children, don’t worry, be happy
Now listen to what I said, in your life expect some trouble
When you worry you make it double
But don’t worry, be happy, be happy now
Worry only doubles the trouble, so we need to take control and stop worrying. Be positive, caring, loving, helpful, active, busy and much more; and our happiness will drown out the troubles.
I’m sure you have heard the expression – practise makes perfect or better still, perfect practise makes perfect. Like developing any skill or attribute we must practise being happy.
In a study, people were asked to talk about their memories. While they talked, they had to move marbles in an upward or a downward direction. Researchers found that when the people were moving the marbles upwards, they talked about happy moments. When they were moving the marbles downwards though, their memories became sadder.
In dealing with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic we can all start to feel a bit down and melancholy, so it is a good time to practise being happy. Happy people tend to do all kinds of things better because feeling happy helps us be positive and confident. As adults and parents our mood and feelings impact our children enormously, so it is important that we project a happy demeanour.
You can help make yourself feel happy by doing a few small, simple things that will lift your mood.
For instance, spend more time with your happy friends. Their happiness will rub off on you. And when you are with your friends try to avoid talking about problems, yours or theirs. Remember your happy times together and make one another laugh. Dislike and resentment take up too much of the happy space in our minds. If there is someone you don’t like, find three of their characteristics you admire. Then you might find you are looking at them with new eyes. Forgive the bad things; try to concentrate on the good.
Analyse what makes someone else interesting and good to be with. Then try to build those qualities in yourself. You will find you start to attract positive, happy people. Here are some tips that may sound odd but they will help you feel happy and banish the COVID blues:
- Make your bed every morning. This will help you feel tidy and organised right at the start of the day.
- Make a list of priorities so you spend your time on the important tasks.
- Get the worst job done first so you can look forward to everything else.
- Spend time outdoors in the sunshine.
- Learn something new. Learning stimulates all the good parts of our brain.
- Find things that make you laugh.
- Keep a smile on your face. Apparently, smiling is a relaxed person’s face because it takes less energy to smile than it does to frown. Just the act of smiling can make you feel happy.
M. K. Setton of The Pursuit of Happiness describes the seven habits of happy people as:
Express your heart. People who have one or more close friendships are happier. It doesn’t seem to matter if we have a large network of close relationships or not. What seems to make a difference is if and how often we cooperate in activities and share our personal feelings with a friend or relative.
Acts of Kindness
Cultivate kindness. People who volunteer or simply care for others on a consistent basis seem to be happier and less depressed.
Physical Wellbeing and Exercise
Keep moving and eat well. Regular exercise has been associated with improved mental wellbeing and a lower incidence of depression. Remember the adage, “sound body, sound mind”. Also, less sugar adds to higher levels of happiness by getting you off the rollercoaster of mood swings.
Find your flow. A regular rhythm and routine in your life helps to reduce stress and adds to a feeling of contentment and confidence. If we are actively involved in trying to reach a goal, or an activity that is challenging but well suited to our skills, we experience a joyful state called “flow.” The experience of flow in both professional and leisure activities leads to increased positivity, performance, and commitment and hence a sense of happiness.
Spiritual Engagement and Meaning
Discovering Meaning. Studies demonstrate a close link between spiritual and religious practice and happiness. Spirituality is closely related to the discovery of greater meaning in our lives. As the psychologist Martin Seligman emphasises, through the meaningful life we discover a deeper kind of happiness.
Strengths and Virtues
Discover and use your strengths. Studies by experts in the new field of Positive Psychology show that the happiest people are those that have discovered their unique strengths and virtues and use those strengths and virtues for a purpose that is greater than their own personal goals.
Positive Mindset: Optimism, Mindfulness and Gratitude
Treasure gratitude, mindfulness, and hope. Optimistic and grateful people have been shown to have greater positive emotion, a greater sense of belonging, and lower incidence of depression and stress and therefore, a higher propensity for happiness.
By knowing and understanding these seven habits of happy people, we can self-reflect on our own habits to make the necessary changes in our lives to become happier people. As our students make the transition back to school we, as adults, are obliged to make them feel happy for happiness instils a sense of confidence.
I am very happy and grateful to live in Western Australia where the incidence of COVID-19 is small and I pray that it remains that way. As we transition back to normal teaching and learning it was wonderful to see the happy and smiling faces of our students this week and I look forward to the return of all students in the coming days. Teachers have been actively engaging with students in class or at home, but there is nothing like being in the classroom interacting and collaborating together.
As previously advised, Catholic Education Western Australia (CEWA), has indicated that they will be reviewing our current transition back to full enrolment on 11 May 2020. CEWA is guided by, and in full compliance with, the COVID-19 National Principles for School Education. In making a final decision regarding the full return by students to schools, the following three considerations will need to be satisfied:
- Our students and staff must be safe at school.
- The education provided to all students must be of a high quality and equitable.
- Teachers will provide teaching and learning opportunities to students through one mode of delivery.
In determining the achievement of these three conditions, CEWA will undertake a formal review of its current position on Monday 11 May 2020. CEWA will closely monitor the Government’s daily health advice, guided by the Chief Health Officer of Western Australia and informed by the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC). We will also continue to plan for the physical, cleaning and hygiene requirements that will be required for a full return by all students to school.
What has made me the happiest over the past week is the return of our students to school. I can only get happier as life gets back to normal. I particularly miss the opportunity to spend time getting to know the students through the many enrichment activities like the Camino Walks, Discos and Socials, Sports Days, Musical recitals and many more activities that are unique to Holy Cross College.
So, as we look forward to the coming weeks, I say . . .
Ooh, ooh ooh ooh oo-ooh ooh oo-ooh, it will soon pass, whatever it is
Ooh, ooh ooh ooh oo-ooh ooh oo-ooh, don’t worry, be happy
Ooh, ooh ooh ooh oo-ooh ooh oo-ooh, I’m not worried, I’m happy