My psychologist license for private practice requires
renewal every three years, and with that comes a ton of courses I have to take
to keep current. Of course, the theory is you do a little over three years, but
of course I consistently have executive functioning fail and am scrambling to
find a live seminar at the last minute. To my credit,
the timing of this renewal has been right when I’ve given birth. Twice.
The first time it came due, Toddler B was 5 months old and I
had to go to downtown Oakland for an all day seminar. No prob, except as a
first time mom, I was panicked about how I was going to pump milk for nursing while I was away.
I called ahead to the hotel where the conference was and I was assured a private
space could be found. At the lunch break, what ensued was a super awkward convo with a teenage boy
at the main desk.
Me: I was told there would be a space for me to pump.
Me: Yes, pump milk.
Boy (dying): Um, like pumping your…
Me: Don’t make me say it.
Boy (frantic): Let me call my supervisor. (To Supervisor on
phone: Um, there’s this lady here who has a question. And it’s not a weird question, I just need…CAN YOU COME
HERE RIGHT AWAY?)
And then I pumped in a conference room that looked out onto
the hotel pool. Hello everyone, these are my breasts. Good times.
My renewal came up this year as my second baby turned 6
months. Luckily, I figured out that “live” webinars count as “live” seminars so
I could finish up in the comfort of my home and spare some boy the mortifying
task of having to say “pump” and “breasts” in the same sentence.
There is a point to this story that is actually related to
school psychology, if you can believe it.
SO. I ended up taking this course on the “Science of Happiness” online and unlike most courses I take, this one actually had some
practical application! Pet peeve #247 is when a course is titled, “Practical
Strategies for ADHD!” and it’s one hour of outline what ADHD is and then 5
minutes of strategies like "sit the child at the front of the class."
So with that, I recommend having a look at this course if
you’re at all interested in the latest research on positive psychology (and,
it’s FREE)*! I want to share one practical thing that came out of this
happiness course. It’s fairly common knowledge that happy people have happier
thoughts. Optimists live longer, are healthier, and all that jazz. But can you train yourself to be an optimist? The short answer is yes…to a degree. There
are genetic factors that predispose one to a certain
baseline level of happy, and situational factors matter, but since nothing is purely genetic, habits of the
mind can also boost your happiness.
With each week, there is a “happiness activity” to try and
the first week’s one was something called “Three Good Things.” It’s exactly as
it sounds. At the end of every day, you write down three good things that
happened. But there’s a bit more work. You have to do the following along with
·Give the event a title (e.g., “a co-worker complimented my
work on a project”)
·Write down exactly what happened in as much detail as
possible, including what you did or said and, if others were involved, what
they did or said.
·Include how this event made you feel at the time and how
this event made you feel later (including now, as you remember it).
·Explain what you think caused this event—why it came to
So the first week I tried it, I found myself searching for
happy moments and filing them away for later. For me, happiness was discovered
in unexpectedly tiny moments—the way my girls laugh in each others' faces for
no apparent reason, the way the baby holds my hand, when my husband made
dinner, chatting with a neighbor, an appreciative email from a parent. The
happiness exercise made me more mindful of the good things in my life. And you
know from previous posts, I’m a super late adopter of mindfulness practices.
For fun, I started having my students in counseling try it
out. I bought them each a little notebook and cool pen (any excuse to go to Target, right? That bullseye keeps hypnotizing me to go back and spend a ton of cash). I did a modified
version for their “homework” in which they have to write three good things that
happened in relation to school. So many of my students either don't give themselves credit for their role in their successes or they laser focus on their weaknesses and forget their strengths.
introduce the idea, I start my students off with telling a parable that was shared in one of the articles in the course—it’s a Native
American story of a grandfather teaching his grandson about emotions. He
tells the boy that inside everyone, there are two wolves that fight each
other: one wolf is full of positive emotions—happiness, gratitude,
thoughtfulness, joy, excitement—and the other is full of negative
emotions—fear, sadness, anger, and jealousy. The young boy asks which wolf wins
the fight inside people, and the grandfather says, “The one you feed.”
So with that, folks, I recommend you and your students feed
your happy wolves and see how it goes. I printed up this beauty meme as a reminder.
I never lose an opportunity to use a meme generator. It makes me…happy. ;)
*There’s always an asterisk after “Free”, right? It’s free
to take, but if you want CEU credits, there’s a fee.