Tal ben-shahar (1970) is a professor of positive psychology at Harvard University. Out of the initial eight students, he now teaches more than 1,500 students per semester, and his subject is the most popular at the university. Ben-Shahar is a stellar speaker Educational Congress “One Hundred Flies”, SM, will be held online April 14 and 15, where it will help teachers discover the importance of happiness in learning and how to achieve it.
“One Hundred Flies” brings together educational professionals to talk about emotional well-being in the classroom, the challenges of the school of the future, education in the digital age, or learning to be a global citizen. They will also have a large number of teachers and principals who will share their enriching experiences in the classroom and in educational centers to achieve that “Flying Table” with their feet on the ground and views of the horizon.
Today, happiness is a great goal that we are desperately looking for. What is happiness?
The definition of happiness is many. Helen Keller wrote: “The only definition of happiness is the whole.” Inspired by Keller, he would define it as the experience of a person’s integral well-being through five elements: spiritual, physical, intellectual, relational, and emotional well-being.
In his presentation next week at the SM educational congress “One Hundred Flying”, he will talk about how to increase happiness in our everyday life. Can you learn to be happy?
Absolutely. The purpose of the science of happiness is ultimately to help individuals and communities increase their level of well-being.
How do you educate yourself in happiness? Can school prepare us from an early age to know what happiness is and how to achieve it?
Just as schools teach math, literature, and history, they should teach happiness, well-being, and resilience. Happiness is not only good in itself, but also contributes to better relationships, physical health and even better grades.
What does emotional well-being contribute to coping with new learning?
Positive emotions lead us to be more open and receptive. This is necessary to absorb new learning. When we experience pleasant emotions, we are more creative, we feel more motivated, we have better relationships and we are physically healthier. Schools must invest in the happiness of their students as a goal in itself, and also as a means to better development.
What is the basis of good teaching?
The foundation of good teaching is to be a role model. Students need teachers as an example of learning, growth and, of course, care and kindness. When teachers learn and grow on their own, students are more likely to do the same. When teachers show care and kindness, students are likely to follow their example.
As a teacher, what techniques or activities do you teach your students?
I teach them the importance of expressing gratitude, keeping a diary, exercising regularly, and continuously learning new things. I also emphasize the importance of accepting and accepting every emotion, both joy and sorrow. Lastly, and most importantly, I teach them that kindness and generosity are the key to making the world happier and better.
“Kindness and generosity are the key to making the world a happier and better place”
Last year, students had to follow classes from home, which caused them to lose their relationship and play with their schoolmates. What does the team contribute to learning?
Distance learning has a high cost; however, since we can’t do much here, we need to make the most of it. That means nurturing relationships as much as we can through deep conversations. Replacing emojis is not the way to depth; an hour to discuss the text, yes!
Our relationship with family and friends also happened through the screens. Do you think that will take us away emotionally?
Unfortunately yes. The key is not to give up deep connections, even through technology.
The science of happiness says that relationships are most important for a happy life. What do our friends bring?
Relationships are crucial to true and lasting happiness. Too many people today prioritize work / money, and relationships are lagging behind. Time with people we care about and who care about us is crucial to happiness. And relationships have to be real. A thousand friends on social networks do not replace a best friend. Face-to-face interactions are important, without the interference of technology. And if we can’t meet face to face because of social alienation, then we have to do everything possible to maintain deep connections, not to fall into superficiality.
You talk about the term “beautiful enemy” when you talk about friendship. Do we need to have friends who tell us what we are doing wrong in order to improve?
People who care about us tell us what we need to hear, not necessarily why we will feel good at that moment. That’s how they help us grow. And of course we should do the same for those we care about.
Gratitude and appreciation are one of the steps on the path to that dream happiness. What do we get thanks to? Are we an ungrateful society?
To find happiness in our lives, we need to appreciate what we already have; don’t take good things for granted. The potential for happiness is all around us: in our work, in our social and family ties, in ourselves. When we value the good in our lives, it grows: we become happier and more successful. In our society, many of us take too many things for granted and unfortunately, when we do not value good, good is devalued, and we have less.
“When we value the good in our lives, it grows: we become happier and more successful.”
Social networks, in which we spend many hours a day and more young people, show us a kind of perfect world. How does this constant happiness of others on social networks affect us?
One of the reasons for the rise in depression and anxiety today is that we assume that everyone else is living incredibly all the time. This is what we learn about people through their social networks. And we don’t want to act abnormal, so we hide sadness, anxiety and fear. “How are you?”, They ask us, and we answer: “Oh, great, and you?”. Putting on a mask of happiness is ultimately counterproductive, both for us and for others. Great deception leads to great depression.
Every third Spaniard recognized that he cried because of the pandemic, according to the Center for Sociological Research, and that number is halved when it comes to young people. How can we work on the negative emotions that the pandemic has brought, such as fear, anxiety, uncertainty?
The first thing to do when things get tough is to give ourselves permission to be human, to embrace any emotions, no matter how unpleasant or unwanted. Instead of rejecting painful feelings, whether it is fear or frustration, anxiety or anger, it is better to allow them to lead in their natural course. So how do we express our emotions instead of suppressing them? We can keep a diary, write about how we feel. We can also open up, talk to people we trust. And of course, allowing ourselves to be human can mean opening doors and crying, not holding back tears. The paradox is that in order to realize our potential for happiness, we must allow misfortune.
In the age of perfectionism and immediacy, there is no room for failure. What does failure bring us? Is failure the path to happiness?
Accepting and accepting failure is important for happiness as well as for success. One of the mantras I repeat to myself and my students is “learn to fail or not learn”. Successful people, whether in art, business or sports, recognize that there is no other way to improve, to learn that failure is the other side of success. No one likes to fail, but if we realize that it is part of the journey, then we are more willing to try, take risks and explore. As a result, we are more likely to be successful. I don’t believe in shortcuts, nor in the five easy steps to success or happiness.
Don’t miss his speech and the speech of other educational experts in Educational Congress “One Hundred Flies”, from SM, following April 14 and 15. Sign up here.