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Over the weekend, I started the course, The Science of Well-Being, modeled after a popular course on well-being and happiness taught at Yale University. I've completed the first week of the course and have already gained insight into the concept of happiness and well-being. The course is intended to provide information related to the science of happiness, but also to encourage participants to actually practice habits that will support happiness and well-being. One of the underlying principles of the course is that knowing is not merely enough. In order to make something happen or to change, we actually need to put something into practice based on what we know. Throughout each week of the course, there is a habit related to happiness to put into practice.
The habit to practice the first week is using your signature strengths. The course included a link to a survey that revealed my top strengths. The recommended goal is to try and use these strengths in different ways each day of the week. According to the survey, one of my top strengths is honesty. If I wanted to use the strength of honesty in a different way, I could do something such as write a poem revealing an inner truth.
Another strength I have, which doesn't surprise me, is the love of learning. To use this strength in a different way, I did some research on running. Although running is one of my favorite things, it's not a topic I spend too much time learning about. I sometimes read up on the newest running sneakers or exercises that may benefit runners, but I've never delved into any science associated with running. A Google Search led me to this video, The Connection Between Running and the Brain. Having been a runner for many years, I know from personal experience that running is good for the brain. It helps to clear my mind and to relieve stress. What I didn't know before watching the video is that there is scientific evidence that supports the idea that running is beneficial to the brain and that there is a connection between running and mindfulness and meditation. Now when someone asks me about the benefits of running, I can say more than, "it's good exercise."
Reflecting on just this one moment in which I used my signature strengths, I can see how it's a practice that supports happiness. Putting strengths to use is a way to focus on what one is best at doing and that provides a sense of empowerment and joy.
I have started a Voxer Chat to discuss this course further with other educators who are taking it. If you are taking the course and interested in joining the chat, let me know.