Two Cents of Happiness

Happy Friday and Happy October Holiday!!  In fact, we’re a pretty happy group around here these days 🙂  Not that it’s always perfect but, then again, when is life ever perfect?  I’ve been reading a lot about “The Science of Happiness” recently and while it’s been a personal interest for me it has also turned into a bit of a professional exploration as well.  A couple weeks ago I wrote about the impact we can all have by taking a positive outlook on things and I got a lot of great feedback from a number of people, thank you!  What I’d like to ask you to think about today is how all of that positivity adds up to make something (us) awesome.

Some of you will remember a few years ago back to when we started the COAR initiative, the one that lives on today on many of our shirts.  That was started for a very specific reason, to build the positive culture here on our campus.  At the time there was a lot of focus on negativity and, even though it was a relatively small element, it was getting a lot of attention.  What we aimed to do was drown out the negative with an overwhelming sense of positivity and, I believe, we’ve done that.  That’s not to say that there is no longer negative but rather that we’ve done a much better job of focusing on the positives and enjoying the successes, of which there are many!

As I mentioned earlier, I’ve been reading a lot about the “The Science of Happiness” and I’ve been looking at some of the ground-breaking work done by Barbara Fredrickson, Ph.D. at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.  In 2005 she co-authored a paper that has become the ground work for a huge amount of theory behind positive thinking and living a positive lifestyle.  What I want to focus on today though, is what Fredrickson considers the “tipping point” between flourishing and withering.  Throughout her work, Fredrickson and her co-author Marcel Losada came to the conclusion that if you live your life with three positive emotions for every one negative emotion then you will have a remarkably high likelihood of flourishing in life.  I couldn’t help but take this “positivity ratio” and apply it to our Middle School.

The amazing thing that I see when I start thinking about our Middle School and all the awesome stuff that happens here is that we’re way beyond a 3-to-1 ratio here.  Our positive emotions outweigh our negative emotions, not just by three but by multiples of three!  Our Middle School celebrates awesomeness, our students ooze it, and our teachers are models of positivity.  Keep in mind, this 3:1 ratio was identified from research based on individuals but it only makes sense that this (or at least a similar) ratio could also apply to schools and other organizations.  From all of the reading that I’ve done, there are a lot of people who struggle to meet this ratio in their personal lives but, fortunately for me, I don’t believe that I work with many of them!  Nope, our Middle School is flourishing and it’s because of you!!!

Enjoy your October break everybody and travel safely!!!

http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/are_you_getting_enough_positivity_in_your_diet (Are you Getting Enough Positivity in Your Diet by Barbara Fredrickson)

http://www.theguardian.com/science/2014/jan/19/mathematics-of-happiness-debunked-nick-brown (To give fair billing, Fredrickson’s math has been challenged in recent years)

http://www.unc.edu/peplab/publications/Fredrickson%202013%20Updated%20Thinking.pdf (BUT, Fredrickson stands behind her research)

And in case you’d rather just dance with almost 500 Million other people http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y6Sxv-sUYtM

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