“Setting Mindful, Kindful, Peaceful Intentions for the New Year
What is the number one thing we want for our children (and/or ourselves)? To be happy and healthy, right? Happiness is an “inside job” and yet many, if not most of us, aren’t taught how to cultivate it in our lives. We tend to be chasing happiness. “Maybe when I get ___ I’ll be happy.” “I’ll be so happy when___.”
“If only we’d stop trying to be happy we’d have a pretty good time.”
What is happiness?
There are 5 interconnected elements of happiness and emotional well-being, identified by psychologist, Martin Seligman. Each area is important and interconnected. If any of these areas are missing, the good news is that we can learn and strengthen the area by learning and practicing science-based strategies to experience happiness.
One element of happiness is “positive emotions” such as joy, pride, gratitude, inspiration, awe, love, peacefulness, etc.
“Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.”
In our classes at Mindful Kindful YOUniversity, students learn to identify negative, critical, unhealthy, and unhelpful thought patterns and behaviors, and instead focus on, practice, and nurture positive thought patterns and behaviors to support their well-being and increase happiness. Our weekly themes help identify an area of focus that a student may practice outside of class.
When we notice a self-critical thought, we can plant a seed of kindness and self-compassion by practicing a mindful loving-kindness wish. When we notice that stress and overwhelm when working on a difficult assignment, we can plant a seed of peace with some mindful breathing, feeling our feet on the ground, noticing the temperature of the air, feeling our breath as we inhale and feeling our breath as we exhale. In taking action, happiness may warm the heart!
“Positive relationships” (such as friends and family) also contribute to happiness.
“Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”
~ Marcel Proust
Happiness is an “inside job” and we “begin within” to practice befriending our thoughts and emotions which in turn helps us to understand and have compassion for those around us at home and in school.
In our classes, students develop positive social skills and relationships with others they might not ordinarily befriend. Through shared experiences of fun activities, they can enjoy positive experiences together creating positive links to their world in their community. When self-awareness notices judging another, we plant seeds of acceptance when we can drop that thought and allow them to be who they are. When we notice someone is being left out or hurt by the words or actions of another, we plant seeds of compassion when we take action to support that person. By nurturing positive, kindful, and peaceful thoughts, words, and actions within, we transform, not only inner peace and happiness, but also nurture social dynamics at school and home!
The other equally important elements of happiness include engagement and enjoyment of activities; finding meaning in life; and accomplishments.
Through self-reflection, journaling, and practices outside of the classroom, students will begin to increase self-awareness of their real-life in-the-moment positive experiences to define their own happiness — learning what truly brings them joy (not what is culturally or peer conditioned) ; discovering their strengths, gifts, and passions that can be shared with others; and celebrating accomplishments whether privately or publicly (in class, with their friends, family).
Focus on the seeds
For a tree to grow and thrive, the required conditions are fertile soil, both sunshine and rain, proper temperatures, and the co-existance with the surrounding plants and animals.
“As you think, so you are. As you dream, so you become. As you create your wishes, so they create you.”
Rather than chasing happiness, we can think of happiness as the tree that exists from the seed that was planted with the resources it needed to come into being. Instead of waiting to be happy, we can create the conditions for happiness to grow. With each breath, plant peace. With each smile, plant joy. With each kindness, plant love. Begin within. Then scatter widely. Repeat.
Plant Happiness Seeds with us!
Join our Mindful Teen Program (ages 12-19) in Arroyo Grande, CA.
Join May I Be Happy: A Course on Self Compassion for Adults in Arroyo Grande. Or request a class in your area!
Host a screening of May I Be Happy: Mindfulness for the Classroom and Beyond
Dee DiGioia, founder of Mindful Kindful YOUniversity offers a Mindfulness-based Social-Emotional Learning Program for youth and adults to learn and engage in practices of secular mindfulness and movement grounded in science and backed by research to support mental and physical health and well-being. Respond more skillfully to life in the 21st Century!