Today, the term “success” typically refers to a high-paying job. And getting recruited to prestigious workplaces is seen as the key to student success.
Colleges and educators place a premium on career-oriented skills, believing that their sole responsibility is to educate students for the global job market.
Few people today believe that happiness is the key to student success, not the other way around. Most don’t know how happiness is the precursor of success.
While it is impossible to define happiness as a sure thing, some factors influence our well-being. Good emotional health and strong social relationships are at the top of the list.
And what is at the bottom?
Every person has their own understanding of this. But in finality, it is still hard to say finding a good job can be a one-size-fits-all happiness option.
We cannot deny a career is an integral part of our lives. However, the key to happiness and success lies somewhere nearer a sense of meaning rather than employment.
“Trying harder is not sufficient by itself. That’s because it’s not how hard you try that leads to success; it’s how you try hard.”— Sherri W. Fisher, a learning specialist, and Positive Education expert
Keys To Student Happiness
Social-emotional learning and mindfulness are two techniques to practice in class and individually. These methods boost emotional health and increase communicative skills.
Practicing mindfulness, we learn how to interact with others without making judgments, and understand them, and ourselves, as they/we are.
It is not too hard to practice social-emotional learning and mindfulness together.
Teachers can train students to use both techniques independently of each other. The trick is to make them a part of their everyday lives and show them to construct their decisions and activities in novel ways. A teacher could start with these methods:
- When reading a book, recommend students to be attentive to the characters, their motivations, and ideas, and empathize with them. Also, one should think about the author and the message she tries to express.
- When feeling frustrated and annoyed by a complicated concept or task, students are more likely to quit. The practice of mindfulness helps them focus and stay calm. While difficulties are unavoidable, they must take note they are not always tragic.
- Learn various breathing and meditation techniques to increase mindfulness and self-awareness.
Also, the teachers should make their students facing academic difficulties understand that asking for help is not an exhibition of their weaknesses.
The young students mostly believe if they cannot understand something, it is a sign of their “silliness.”
They need to learn that is never the truth, and rather, one might be considered “silly” only when they do not ask questions about the lesson they did not grasp clearly.
By the way, delegating and sharing tasks when one feels overwhelmed is a smart decision.
It is hard to find a spirit of lightness and be happy when one feels alone and overloaded with assignments that do not seem easily manageable.
In such times, when the students do not get a handle on their tasks, we should prepare them to ask for help without feeling ashamed.
• Related Reading: 5 Incredible Ways To Increase Classroom Productivity
Education And Happiness
A student’s emotional condition has a significant impact on their performance. It influences their social behavior, motivation, and decision-making. When students enjoy and find purpose in their work, they are more inclined to put in greater effort. Low-key stress can motivate kids to work harder.
We connect positive emotions with better well-being and better performance in academics and work.
On the flip side, sadness, unsolved emotional issues, and depression sap our energy and the ability to work efficiently.
That is why creating a positive atmosphere in the classroom and providing learners with support and help is the duty of every educator.
Of course, we cannot stay positive and happy all the time.
Also, it makes little sense — because positive emotions on an endless loop decrease the appreciation of happiness. In life, negative emotions are necessary to let us appreciate and fully feel the positive states.
Our negative emotions have a reason to exist, as scientists have proven, and it’s no good to deny them altogether.
Everyone feels sad and annoyed from time to time, so students shouldn’t “censor” negative feelings. Instead, finding a balance is key.
Happiness lies not only in positive emotions but also in finding a sense of meaning in life. We need to know our activities make sense towards a greater purpose.
When students feel that their learning does not have any meaning to them and serves no greater purpose in their lives, it is hard for them to devote significant efforts to education.
Meaning is defined by the goals students have.
When their goals focus not merely on recognition and money, but also connect with interest and passion, students achieve better results.
In fact, when students are focused only on the financial benefits of education, they are more likely to face a sense of meaninglessness in life.
Educators should encourage students to look for something more than the future financial benefits a curriculum can bag.
They should orient their students’ overall activity towards other ideas of well-being, such as gratefulness and mindfulness.
When they learn about building a sense of wholesome life satisfaction, they become more motivated to cope with the complexities of academia and life itself.
The Bane of Comfort Zone
A happy student is not one who stays in a comfortable environment all the time.
The greatest thing one can do for one’s happiness and self-awareness is to learn how to deal with those who challenge your social skills.
Working and talking with different people, especially those quite different from you, is a great way to learn more about many social skills, such as communication and forgiveness.
When students choose to operate only in groups made of comfortable and “matching” people, they simply throw the diversity factor into a trash can.
Mistakes and confrontations are not problematic. Rather, they are sources of new knowledge and an expanded point of view.
Learning how to behave smartly in a conflict is a valuable practice, so there is no point in avoiding struggles and confrontations.
Students should reflect on the situation and invent new ways of working together to make the process smoother.
They need to develop their mental toolkit to deal with things when it gets harsh. Also, these tools and methods should be analyzed and revised regularly to know what works best.
A Sense of Meaning
All of us must have pondered at some point in our lives: What is the meaning of my life?
There is meaning beneath how we think and feel, how we see ourselves and others, and how we figure out our lives. But we cannot achieve a sense of meaning without reflection.
Reflecting on your learning experience is the best way to connect it to your life and incorporate sense into this practice. Not only do students learn the content and its meaning.
Also, they learn how to learn and use different approaches to absorb the materials. We should recognize and analyze these approaches.
Now, college and university are social environments, so students learn to communicate and understand each other’s needs. And, as we suggested at the beginning of the article, efficient communication and meaningful activity are the bedrock of a happy student life.
Happiness can be a blurry concept, as not one person can define it in a way that is acceptable to the rest.
We connect the happy state of mind with a sense of meaning and communication. Students need to know clearly what the aims and goals of their education are and learn how to go after them. The answers might change from time to time, but a deeper understanding of the meaning will reveal that career and financial success are not the key ingredients of a happy student.
Job skills never limit our lives. If this were true, it would be a sad story of a life. Jobs, careers, and education can give us a sense of meaning only when our lives find focus on something higher than the material stuff and external recognition.
What matters is the way we understand how we can live our lives beyond these and feel happy for ourselves.
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Author Bios: Sandra Larson is a professional writer. She is fond of yoga as well as oriental spirituality and philosophy. Sandra has a blog where she shares her experiences and ideas on how to achieve a healthier life. Edited and reviewed by Sandip Roy – a medical doctor, psychology writer, and happiness researcher. Founder of Happiness India Project, and chief editor of its blog. He writes popular-science articles on positive psychology and related medical topics.
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