Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Little Big Minds: Happiness

"Happiness is feeling okay about everything and being satisfied no matter what...It is also the feeling that you belong somewhere."  -Marietta McCarty, Little Big Minds

This is the next in a series of blog posts dedicated to the AMAZING book Little Big Minds by Marietta McCarty.  You can view the previous blog posts here:
Topic:  This theme is centered around students defining in their own words, “What is happiness?”  I think as adults, we have a lot to learn from children about happiness.  It seems that most children have this consistent happiness about them.  McCarty has her students explore this definition and then examine things that we mistake for happiness.  A few resources McCarty uses to explore this topic is having students listen to “Here Comes the Sun,” E.E. Cummings’ poem “who knows if the moon’s / a balloon,”  and Edna St. Vincent Millay’s “The Fawn.” 
Philosophers:  Epicurus and Charlotte Joko Beck are the philosophers that McCarty bases this them of happiness from.  Epicurus was an Athenian citizen that left the main part of town and built just a house and a garden.  His teachings are mainly about living a simple life.  He says that if we get rid of all the “extra stuff” we will be happy. 
            Charlotte Joko Beck is a woman that studied Zen Buddhism in her forties.  Beck teaches that happiness comes from within and in order to have that happiness from within, we must take the time to look inside ourselves.  An interesting point that Beck makes is to just sit.  It seems like we are all so caught up in doing something that we never just sit
            Meditation is something that McCarty introduces to her students to mimic the teachings of Epicurus and Beck.  A few resources that McCarty recommends using to expand on recognizing our happiness is the book, “The Phantom Tollbooth” and the film, “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.” 
Simplicity:  The goal of this discussion is for students to begin to think about Needs and Wants.  Once they decide that clothing is a need and clothing with a name brand is a want, they can begin to realize how to live a simple, uncomplicated life.  An exercise McCarty has her students do, is to find things in their home and make a list of Necessary/Happiness and Pleasure/Wants.  Also, my favorite part of this chapter is having students dance to Aretha Franklin’s “I Say a LittlePrayer.”  Students learn that dancing and happiness coincide with each other.
Creating Balance:  Meditation is a wonderful activity to teach students.  This allows them to see what it feels like to just sit and listen to their thoughts.  McCarty explains how students experiences after meditating are quite descriptive which shows how beneficial it can be for them.  She also describes how using a Frisbee to show students a visual of how meditation can help you reach your center (through meditation).  Once they reach this center, they can begin to balance their thoughts, lives, etc.  Finding time each day for some meditation/quiet time can be beneficial to students with their everyday hectic lives.  They need time to just slow down for a few minutes.
Here is a fun link to guide students through meditation: Do as One

How will you teach your students about happiness?  What will they teach you?

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