With Or Without Technology: 25 Things That Happy People Do

Note: This is a reblog from TeachThought. I have been tweeting and Facebook sharing article that I really like for the past few months, but this article was different. I just had to share somewhere else with a few of my own thoughts.

Smiling child peeking out of hay

Image: teachthought

Second Note: So, long time no see! It’s been about 10 months since my last post (shh, don’t tell anyone). I’m going to be intentional from here on out to blog more and also to expand this blog beyond technology and edtech. This may warrant an additional blog post, but let’s start with this first.

Below are 25 things that happy people do, with or without technology. This was posted to TeachThought by Terry Heick this morning (July 23, 2015), and I absolutely fell in love with this post. I already shared this on twitter, but I wanted to share it elsewhere. I needed to share it elsewhere. So many of these ring true to my own beliefs and I usually fall short of embracing each and every one of these, but oh boy―could you imagine what your life would look like if you lived out each one of these ideals?

Here’s an experiment. Hunt down 25 index cards and write each one of these on its own card. If you’re one of these techy people, copy and paste these into your Notes app on your iPhone. If you have an Adroid, I’ll pray for you. Next, make an effort to read these at least once a day and concentrate on one or two of these each day for a month. Then rinse and repeat.

  1. They connect meaningfully with other living things.
  2. They are playful–in whatever form they choose, they create and take advantage of opportunities for “Deep Play” (see Diane Ackerman).
  3. They control their thinking. Thoughts become beliefs, and beliefs lead to behavior. Beliefs also lead you to seek specific data that that fits your beliefs. In that way, you literally construct your own reality–and thus happiness or suffering.
  4. They see like a scientist (with an open mind and objective analysis), think like a farmer (with reverence and interdependence), and behave like an artist (with creativity and disavowment of convention).
  5. They know that happiness is a muscle. Neurology shows us that thinking patterns lead to more of the same, so establish that neural pathway. Flex your happy muscle even if you’re not feeling it at the moment. You won’t smile if you’re not happy; you can’t be happy if you don’t smile.
  6. They practice visualizing the things they want to achieve (as a teacher–delivering a lesson, collaborating with another teacher, talking with an administrator or parent, etc.) The law of attraction makes sense. See different, seek different, attain difference.
  7. They find comfort in new experiences and ideas. They don’t just accept them, but see them as opportunities (usually out of their control anyway).
  8. They find value in substance, and whimsy in recreation. That is, purpose and meaning can drive their behavior, but their soul is still playful with the universe around it.
  9. They are brutally honest with themselves and those around them. (That said, they also know the difference between honesty and insecurity.)
  10. They adapt their thinking and behavior to an elegant and sustainable scale. Not too humble (which sparks nothing), not too broad (which burns recklessly).
  11. They embrace ambiguity. There is no one way to see, understand, or do anything.
  12. They accept that the world, while flawed, is likely ‘better’ than it’s ever been. This is hugely debatable and another post of its own, but this is a thought that keeps creeping up on me recently. Yes, we have a long way to go, but the modern focus on equality and acceptance and social justice, while insufficient, is a trend whose value can’t be overstated.
  13. They trust others. Yes, people let you down sometimes; yes, people hurt you, but there is joy in human connections that can’t be found anywhere else in the universe. (See #1.)
  14. They serve others, and love ‘differences.’ Diversity. Change. They honor fear and (mild) anxiety, but understand that a fundamental law of the nature of all things is change.
  15. They believe in their own ability to positively impact their environment.
  16. They eat well–food that nourishes their bodies, and reflects their respect for the earth, and their own future.
  17. They exert themselves physically, whether through work, exercise, yoga, sports, etc.
  18. They honor the complexity of things. They assume that they don’t understand. When you assume that you do, you’ll lean towards judgment. When you assume that you don’t, you’ll lean towards analysis. One leads to suffering, one leads to something closer to wisdom.
  19. They make things–and wildly original things. There can be joy in execution (other people’s ideas), but creating something out of nothing is a uniquely human–and humanizing–concept. The more fully human you are, the more of an opportunity you’ll have for contentment, happiness, and joy.
  20. They restore things.
  21. They know that living is in the moment–everything else is an illusion. (And even living in the moment is problematic depending on how you’re constructing that moment through your own perceptions–see #2.) So find the texture in each moment. Within that texture is design, nuance, purity, and love.
  22. They grasp the various legacies they are a part of, and the ecologies that need their sense of living citizenship.
  23. They stop seeking and start accepting. Then, from a position of acceptance, they begin to see what they really need.
  24. They embrace the journey, not the triumph and suffering that happen along the way.
  25. They don’t seek happiness. They know that happiness is not a cause or condition, but an effect–the resonance of an alignment between your behavior and your belief system as a human being.
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Highlighting the 21st Century Learner in a New Ecology of Learning (Week 4 Blog Highlights)

Connected
Week four proved to be an interesting mix of of readings and blog posts. We all read the same readings, however we all took away different key points and main ideas. As Joe pointed out in last week’s blog recap, “that fact that we considered different aspects of the readings speaks to the richness of the conversation occurring with regards to what we see as the new roles for modern learners.” It appears we have accomplished this again and will continue to do so with future blog assignments. I feel this is inevitable as the chances of two or more people writing about the same idea in the same way in the same context would be extremely unlikely. And I feel this is a great point to mention in talking about the connectivism article and the first two chapters (“Arc-of-Life Learning” and “A Tale of Two Cultures”) in Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown’s A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change. The fact that we are able to read an article and take away something that intrigues us, and then read a fellow classmate’s post on the same article and see what they took away, and then compare and contrast the two different views proves to be an invaluable resource. The whole idea of reading about building your own learning network and then actually doing that in a hands-on environment via blogging is fascinating to say the least.

Sam points out that “teaching in the 20th century was static and 21st century learning involves the rapid expansion of knowledge at an increasing rate.” Sam also continues to raise some great thought-provoking questions like how do we keep up with this rapid expansion of knowledge and change and how do we design our comfort in such an environment? This is a great point and one that should not be overlooked, especially in an age where information overload is the norm. A vital skill to combat this “information overload” is being able to differentiate the useful from the useless. Another skill that John Seely Brown’s mentions in The 21st Century Learner YouTube video is this, “Probably the most important thing for kids growing up today is the love of embracing change.” I mentioned in a comment on Sam’s article that maybe if we design out comfort on the very premises of change, of embracing change, just maybe we will find out comfort in a world of complete information chaos. Sam also makes an interesting point when she says that “unlimited creativity and ‘allowing mistakes’ will more likely happen in larger already competitively developing places of employment [like Google].” I have to agree with Sam with this; however, this cannot be the only environment in which this occurs. We must work on creating environment within our school systems that “allow mistakes” and nourish “unlimited creativity”.

To continue with Sam’s comment on “larger already competitively developing places…[like Google]”, Aaron brings up an interesting idea that “many developments are brought forth by for-profit institutions, creating an inherent rush to production. The need to stay ahead, and the competitive nature of such institutions, allow for fundamental components in learning to slip through the cracks.” This is an interesting idea and would agree that for-profit institutions alone will fall short, which leads me to Obama’s ConnectED. I stumbled upon an article a few months ago that caught my attention. The headlines read, “Adobe makes huge $300 million contribution to Obama’s technology-education program.” I continued to explore Obama’s ConnectED program and found out that other tech companies such as Apple, Microsoft, Autodesk, and Verizon are also donating software, hardware, and millions of dollars with the goal of “connecting 99 percent of America’s students to the digital age through next-generation broadband and high-speed wireless in their schools and libraries within the next five years.” At first I was skeptical, I still am to a point. You can’t just dump technology into education and expect it to work. Obama’s ConnectED plan also outlines the plan to add funding and programs to train the teachers as well. I do agree with Aaron that for-profit companies rush to production and miss the mark when in competition. But if an organization, like the U.S. government, can bring together all these giant tech companies and accomplish this, we could be going somewhere!

Joe talks about the Connectivist model in relation to Brown and Thomas’s story of a nine-year-old boy, Sam, and Scratch. Sam designed a program using Scratch, teaching himself the fundamentals of coding in the process. But this isn’t where Sam’s learning stopped. He then shared his project on the Scratch community and was able to receive feedback and others were able to “remix” his program. Joe points our that the Scratch community “feels self-policed or ‘self-organized’ via the Connectivist model.” This is a great observation that really shows the true value of a learning network. Another important takeaway from Sam’s story was when he was asked what he looks for in other peoples programs. Sam said, something really cool you could never know yourself.” One of the most important aspects of Arc-of-Life Learning, or Connected Learning, or Connectivism is learning how to learn from others. This is exactly what Sam accomplished while teaching himself how to program. Joe also makes a statement that “some learning is more evocative when the presences of an organization, whether it is a non-profit or school or business, is missing or less hands-on.” I linked this to a mindset of being penalized that I feel most people grow up with because of school being more about getting a good grade rather than learning.

All in all, this was another great week of learning, connecting, and building our personal learning networks.