In our recent post How to Kick Start The 365give Challenge in Your Class: It’s as Easy as 1, 2, 3 we share how to start a culture of giving in school through a teacher’s lens.
As a parent to 3 school age children, I have a different lens I look through when it comes to the education and most importantly the well-being of my kids.
I get to experience first hand the brilliance and at times the challenges of a traditional public-school system. I see how schools are evolving as the world evolves with the increased use of technology, the integration of social emotional learning and more hands-on inquiry, and project-based learning. It brings me hope as a parent that schools are creating new environments that is inclusive of all types of learners.
But unfortunately, the news headlines tell us a different story again and again. The increase in bullying both in schools and cyber space continue to grow. In many parts of our world children fear for their lives while attending school.
The growing rate of diagnosed depression, anxiety and stress in school age children and young adults has climbed to staggering numbers. Suicide rates continue to climb each year. Yale Professor Lori Santos was so concerned about the mental well-being of students she created a course “The Psychology of the Good Life” which had over 1200 students enroll in the first semester it was offered. Her mission was to help students understand how to find their happy. It has been deemed “the most popular course ever taught” at Yale.
The World Happiness Report tells us “the best predictor of whether a child becomes a happy adult is their emotional health in childhood.” Since children spend most of their waking hours in school from age 5 into their 20’s and beyond, supporting their emotional well-being – turning on the happy lights – should be woven into the fabric of every school.
Reason #1 – “Born to be Good”
University of Berkley Professor, Dacher Keltner demonstrates that humans are not hardwired to lead lives that are “nasty, brutish, and short”—we are in fact born to be good. He investigates an old mystery of human evolution: why have we evolved positive emotions like gratitude, compassion that promote positive ethical action and are the fabric of cooperative societies. Watch his Ted Talk to learn more.
Reason #2 – The Science of Giving
Altruistic behavior isn’t just a “good to be good” moral philosophy. It’s science. Researchers from all over the world have been studying the science of giving for decades. When we give our bodies kick in giving us a natural high feeling. They call it the “Helpers High”. (https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/the_helpers_high) Our brains neurotransmitters engage in what is referred to as the “Happiness Trifecta.” The perfect natural combination of serotonin, oxytocin and dopamine. No prescription necessary! It calms us down and makes us happy! Worried about stress – giving has this covered. Research shows just thinking about giving reduces our cortisol up to 23%! (that’s our stress hormone) You can tap into the natural chemical reaction of happiness but creating a daily habit of giving. Happy students, happy teachers = happy schools!
Reason #3 – The Common Thread
“In this day and age we face many challenges. There is, nonetheless, a common thread that naturally binds them together and harmonizes their seeming discrepancies. This common thread is altruism.” Matthiuer Ricard, (deemed the happiest man on earth). The positive effects of giving touch us all – any age, race, religion, sex or economic status. It’s a language we all understand and can speak – with the simplest of gestures like a smile. You don’t have to be rich to give. Giving is compassion, empathy, kindness and gratitude for all living things.
When we stand side by side – striping away our boarders and boundaries – our commonality above all is we are all human being – sharing one planet.
Reason #4 – Well-Being
By definition the buzz word “well-being” is a state of being healthy and/ or happy. We know giving makes us happy, but does it really make us healthier? Research says yes! The reeducation of cortisol in our bodies reduces our stress but chronic illnesses including cardiovascular disease, immune response, cancer, diabetes and premature aging.
Reason #5 – A Meaningful Life
“A sense of meaning and purpose can be derived from belonging to and serving something bigger than yourself.” Dr. Seligman’s PERMA Theory of Wellbeing includes 5 building blocks that enable humans to be happy and live with an overall feeling of wellbeing. This includes Positive Emotion, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning and Accomplishment. Giving goes well beyond facilitating positive emotions or better interactions with others. It can become a profound driver of our success in life, by contributing directly to the meaning and accomplishment.
Children are our future. They are the fabric of our society. If we teach our children to give starting with our families and into our schools, it will change our world.
As parent, if could have only one wish for my children – it would be for them to have a happy life.
Introducing giving in school and your family is as easy as 1,2,3. Sign up as a member today and together we can create a happy world – one give, one day at a time.