Growth Mindset and Happiness

If you ask parents what it is that they most desire for their children as they grow up, you will almost certainly find that the vast majority of answers are variations on a theme - “Happiness”. Yet, in our media-drenched world, we are bombarded with countless troubling myths and downright lies about happiness. Don Draper, The protagonist in the hit show, Mad Men famously said:

“Advertising is based on one thing: happiness. And you know what happiness is? Happiness is the smell of a new car. It’s freedom from fear. It is the billboard on the side of the road that screams reassurance that whatever you are doing is OK. You are OK.”

However, I find it interesting that in my language we talk about “achieving happiness”. Interesting verb that isn’t it….”achieving”? This suggests to me that happiness is something that requires effort, something we are on a journey towards, something that requires us to be proactive in seeking.  I find this approach resonates with me and chimes with our current focus on developing a growth mindset in ourselves and in our students. Whatever your religious persuasion, there are few who could doubt the grace and wisdom of the current head of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis. Here is his take on happiness…..

“You may have defects, be anxious and even irritated, but do not forget that your life is the greatest enterprise in the world. Only you can prevent it from going into decline. There are many that need you, admire you and love you.

I would like to remind you that being happy is not having a sky without storms, or roads without accidents, or work without fatigue, or relationships without disappointments.

Being happy is finding strength in forgiveness, hope in one’s battles, security in moments of fear, love in disagreements.

Being happy is not only about treasuring the smile, but that also about reflecting on the sadness.

It is not just about commemorating a success, but also learning lessons in failure.
It is not just having joy in the applause, but also having joy in anonymity.

Being happy is to recognize that it is worthwhile to live, despite all the challenges, misunderstandings and times of crisis.

Being happy is not an inevitable fate, but a victory for those who can travel towards it with their own being.

Being happy is to stop being a victim of problems and instead become an actor in history itself.

It is not only to cross the deserts outside of ourselves, but still more, to be able to find an oasis in the recesses of our soul.

It is to thank God every morning for the miracle of life.

Being happy is not being afraid of one’s feelings. It is to know how to talk about ourselves. It is to bear with courage when being told, “No!”

It is to have the security to receive criticism, even if it is unfair.

It is to kiss the children, pamper the parents, have poetic moments with friends…. even if they have hurt us.

Being happy means allowing the free, happy and simple child inside each of us to live; having the maturity to say, “I was wrong”; having the audacity to say, “forgive me”.

It is to have sensitivity in expressing, “I need you”; to have the confidence and humility to say, “I love you.”

And when you go wrong along the way, start all over again. Thus you will be more passionate about life.

And you will find that happiness is not about having a perfect life but about using tears to water tolerance, losses to refine patience, failures to carve serenity….

Never give up …. Never give up on the people you love. Never give up in striving to be happy because life is an incredible show.

And you are a special human being!”

…have a great weekend….