“Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort.”
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Dear LoMA Family,
Have you ever noticed how good things just seem to happen more often to people who have a sunny disposition while other people seem constantly live under a cloud of despair? In a New York Times article called “Turning Negative Thinkers into Positive Ones,” Jane Brody explains that part of this may be due to the power of positive thinking. Her focus is on the power of “micro-moments of positivity.” She writes, “More than a sudden bonanza of good fortune, repeated brief moments of positive feelings can provide a buffer against stress and depression and foster both physical and mental health.” These micro-moments of positivity could be as small as giving up your seat for an elderly person, helping someone with homework or making a special breakfast for little brother.
Of course, we all have good reasons to feel down at times. Negative feelings activate the amygdala which triggers feelings of anxiety and fear. This can help prepare oneself to deal with conflict, but when it happens too often it can make it very difficult to succeed in school, plan for the future and sustain positive relationships. Healthier and happier people have resilient amygdales that can snap back from troubles so people don’t overreact. Brody writes that there are ways that you can actually train your amygdala in order to become healthier, more social and happier. The most important thing seems to be to surround yourself with positive people as joy is contagious and unhappy people can be toxic. Actually working, creating and playing with friends and family have been repeatedly shown to increase happiness and improve health as they build self-worth. This is another reason we encourage extracurricular activities at LoMA. Here are some of her other suggestions:
· Do good things for other people. In addition to making others happier, it will make you feel better about yourself, always the best source of the most genuine happiness.
· Appreciate the world around you. I’ve been working at Seward for almost twenty years and I still appreciate the architectural details of our building and am fascinated to see all of the construction work going on around us. More significant are the brilliant sunsets, funny people and good meals we all should take time to appreciate.
· Establish goals that can be accomplished. Set realistic but challenging goals and work towards meeting them. These can be grades, artistic projects, athletic events or learning something new. It doesn’t matter what the goal is, success will make you feel successful.
· Learn something new. It can be a sport, a language, an instrument or a game that instills a sense of achievement, self-confidence and resilience. When was the last time you learned something new? How did it make you feel?
One of the ironies of happiness is that it requires effort and work. Sitting around watching television, surfing the Internet or hanging out may feel good for a bit, but they will never bring a sense of accomplishment and real joy. The good life requires that we commit to something and work with others for success.
Work hard…and you’ll be happier,
May 3 4:00-7:00 LoMA Day at the Whitney
May 4 5:45-8:00 Parent Teacher Conferences
May 16 12:00 Sophomore trip to NYTW
May 17 10:30 Freshmen trip to St. Luke’s Orchestra
May 19 and 20 Grease is the Word