What Makes You Happy?

Yesterday was the last class day for this semester for the students who study English Language Teaching in Open Education Faculty. Because there remained no more topics in the books to cover, I chose to give my students a chance to reflect on their lives. They didn’t find my plan appealing, so some of them expressed their worries about the exams they were to take this weekend.

Of course I was too adamant to change my mind; that’s why I tried to draw their attention by putting up the following quotes on happiness on the board.

“Happiness comes from within. It’s a state you create by choice. It’s a decision. It’s an act of will.”

Robin Sharma

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”

Mahatma Gandhi

When I caught a glimpse of interest in their eyes, I felt more courageous to move on and asked them to share ideas in groups of four about what they understood from those great quotes. There were still a few students reluctant to participate, but they had to act in harmony with the rest of the students.

By the end of ten minutes I had given for the activity, a better atmosphere prevailed in the classroom. There was no longer anyone with long faces; instead, it looked like they had all meditated and freed themselves of pressure. I was also pleased and smiling. That was the effect of positive energy filling our minds and hearts.

When it was time to hear the reflections, the first group of students said “Happiness for them was to say that you are happy” referring to the quote by Robin Sharma. Those in the second group also referred to Robin Sharma and expressed their view as follows: “Happiness could not be found, it could be felt”. The third group pointed “Happiness would never be possible because harmony in words, mind and heart could not be reached” by referring to Ghandi’s description of happiness.

As they spoke out their thoughts, I only listened. I didn’t even question if they agreed or disagreed with each other. I just didn’t wish to create negativity. Following the sharing of ideas, I asked them if they felt happy about life. Answers varied, but most of my students were happy, and two students stated they could be happy with even a cup of coffee-at least I was not alone 🙂

Despite the hesitation at the beginning, my students were filled with enthusiasm to go further. For this reason, I decided to request them to write paragraphs of maximum 100 words reflecting on what made them happy and why. To my surprise, nobody complained this time; they all wrote and exchanged papers with their friends as I had already suggested them to do so that they would be discussing their answers with those of different friends.

All done, my students had shared ideas with at least 2 other friends in addition to discussion in groups. The good thing was that they had ADAPTED themselves to a new situation without expecting any near-future benefits. It made me happy as well because I had played a bit of a role in their change of perspective about the activity.

When I, as the end of the session neared, invited the students to talk about how they felt compared with their psychology at the start of the lesson, they expressed their relief and change of mood from negative to positive. Some of them also said they had become AWARE that nothing could be a cause for pessimism.

That being the case, I was assured once more that I could really make a difference as long as I persevered with my ideals. The realization of this fact is, and will always be what I need to keep walking in my new path of SELF-DISCOVERY.

 

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