Finally, some snow on the ground as a reminder that winter is here and that February break is upon us. For some that will mean a getawaytravel from our corner of the country to a far-flung place, perhaps with an adventure waiting, and for others, the break will offer a chance to stay local and decompress together as a family. Wherever the week takes you, I hope it allows you to savor some of life’s joys. This expression is borrowed from the work of Sonja Lyubomirsky in The How of Happiness, which was one of the faculty summer reading options this past summer.
Like each of the texts we could have read, Lyubomirsky’s book is rooted in guiding the reader to wellness, mindfulness, and the discovery of joy. I recently revisited Chapter 9, dedicated to the savoring of life’s joys, for guidance on how to best take advantage of this much-needed break during what has been a busy and exciting school year. What follows are a few of her practical suggestionsa sort of how-to guide towards relishing and making the most of every day.
Transport yourself. While some of you may be doing this more literally than others, the act of transporting yourself to a favorite place or time in your memory requires no passport, no Uber ride. It is about “the ability to engage in positive reminiscence” which can “provide both pleasure and solace when you need it most.” Research backs it up: “those who reminisce on a regular basis showed considerable increases in happiness, and the more vivid the memories conjured, the greater the gain in happy feelings.” (p. 195)
Celebrate good news. Lyubomirsky writes that “sharing successes has been associated with elevated emotions and well being.” (197) An important notethis is about sharing your own successes and digging in a bit to realize those of your child. Children are not necessarily inclined to recognize the little moments as share-worthy, never mind celebration-worthy. Help them find those moments, and celebrate them together.
Be open to beauty and excellence. “Positive psychologists suggest that people who open themselves to the beauty and excellence around them are more likely to find joy, meaning and profound connection in their lives.” (197) As she explains, it is less about finding the awe-inspiring places in the world, and more about finding the wonder in the everyday. May you find beauty and excellence everywhere you look, and may you remember to savor it.
Wax nostalgic. Take time to remember previous experiences with those you love. Turns out, that’s another route to improved happiness as well. According to Lyubomirsky, those cherished memories fulfill you with warmth, beauty, goodness, and love. Not a bad way to spend a break.
Of course, there are other ways to find relief, relaxation, and joy during breaka good book, a museum visit, time as a family unit, to name only a few. However you choose to spend yours, I wish you nothing but the happiness that Lyubomirsky promises, no matter how you may find it.
Have a wonderful break, everyone.
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