The First Chapter - Lower School 

Welcome to The First Chapter by Silvia Davis, Head of Lower School, a blog featuring wonderful stories about our youngest students.  

Mrs. Davis will be posting here regularly. Please be sure to scroll down to read more and check back frequently for updates.


The Secret to Happiness

Every New Year, I, along with millions of other people, seek resolutions to improve myself in the next 365 days. Most often, my resolutions follow the same theme as everyone else’s including exercising more, eating healthier, drinking more water, etc. In truth, it seems all of our resolutions can be categorized as making improvements to be happier. I recently began following a blog called Becoming Minimalist as I have been actively working to reduce the amount of extra “stuff” in my life. In a recent article on a blog entitled 11 Resolutions for a Better You - Proven By Science, the writer describes a few different ideas for improvements to consider making to improve one’s life in this New Year based on different scientific studies. Ideas such as exercise, going outside, reading fiction, displaying gratitude and smiling more often, had me thinking of the Danish practice of hygge (pronounced HOO-GA). There are hundreds of articles about the Danes and their incessant happiness. There are many things which contribute to this state of bliss, but one major ingredient is hygge. The word hygge is derived from a Norwegian word which means well-being. Yet, the question you may have is how are hygge and happiness linked? 

It is difficult to explain precisely what hygge is, but a book on the topic calls it the Danish practice of happy living. In The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living by Meik Wiking, CEO of the Happiness Research Institute, Copenhagen, the author begins in the introduction by saying that, “hygge is about an atmosphere and an experience, rather than about things.” Especially in the consumer-based climate, I find great value and solace in the idea that there are specific things one can actively do to be happier, but they are not focused on materialism.  

It is no secret that the key to happiness is not stuff, but yet, we find that it is difficult to obtain without having something concrete to anchor ourselves with. The principles of hygge help you actively focus on happiness, but with the little things rather than the big ones. Without giving too much information, the author says that “while hygge can be an intangible and abstract concept, I do believe that we can use all our senses to detect it. Hygge has a taste, a sound, a smell, and a texture - and, hopefully, you will start to see hygge all around.” Considering that we can be happier by actively recognizing blissfulness in our space is a principle I wanted to pass along to our students. We all know that the younger one begins a habit, the easier it is to stick with. Thus, I began to research and I came across Kid President’s Awesome Year Challenge.

"Those who are not looking for happiness are the most likely to find it because those who are searching forget that the surest way to be happy is to seek happiness for others.” - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

You may be familiar with the YouTube sensation, Kid President. Fourteen-year-old, Robby Novak is from a small town of Henderson, Tennessee, and in 2012, he was making videos at home in front of a cardboard set, dressed in a suit fit for a then, eight-year-old, spreading his messages of joy. Meanwhile, actor Rainn Wilson of the series The Office had joined with a friend with the purpose of “sparking dialogue about art and philosophy, spirituality and creativity.” In their initial pursuit, Rainn and his team were happy with the following they had garnered, but they were beginning to feel that their content was too heavy. In thinking about what was missing, they determined they were missing a critical element in their work: joy.  

Robby Novak and his brother-in-law were making Kid President and someone sent one of their videos to the folks at Soul Pancake. As Wilson describes it, the first words they heard from Robby was, “People of the internet! Get off your Facebook, and listen to me! If it doesn’t make the world better, don’t do it!” I, myself, am not sure that a truer statement has ever been uttered. From this, came hundreds of videos, meet and greets with celebrities and an actual President, and more notoriety than Robby and Brad (his brother-in-law) could have ever imagined. In the preface of the book Kid President’s Guide to Being Awesome, Rainn Wilson writes, “But the final factor that I think is often forgotten in what makes Kid President magical is the power of encouragement.”  

Robby’s introduction to the guide to being awesome begins with a pep talk. 

I think we all need a pep talk.  

The world needs you to stop being boring. Yeah, you. Boring is easy. Everybody can be boring. But you’re gooder than that.  

Life is not a game, people. Life isn’t a cereal, either. (Well, it is a cereal.) And if life is a game, are we on the same team? I mean really, right? I’m on your team; be on my team. 

This is life, people. You got air coming through your nose; you got a heartbeat. That means it’s time to do something. 

A poem: ‘Two roads diverged in the woods, and I took the road less traveled…’ and it hurt man! Really bad! Rocks, thorns, and glass… My pants broke! Why? 

Not cool, Robert Frost. 

But what if there really were two paths? I would want to be on the one that leads to awesome. 

Just like that dude Journey said, ‘Don’t stop believing… unless your dream is stupid, then you should get a better dream.’ I think that’s how it goes. 

Get a better dream, then keep going, keep going, keep going, keep going.  

What if Michael Jordan had quit? (Well, he did quit. No, he retired. Yeah, that’s right; he retired.) But before that, in high school, what if he quit when he didn’t make the team? He would’ve never made Space Jam. And I love Space Jam

What will be your Space Jam? What will you create that will make the world awesome? Nothing, if you keep sitting there. That’s why I’m talking to you today. This is your time. This is my time. This is our time. 

We can make every day better for each other. But if we’re all on the same team, let’s start acting like it. We got work to do. We can cry about it or we can dance about it. We were made to be awesome. Let’s get out there! 

I don’t know everything; I’m just a kid. But I do know this: It’s everybody’s duty to give the world a reason to dance. So get to it! 

You’ve just been pep talked. Create something that will make the world awesome. Play ball. 

At our first Lower School Assembly of the New Year, I showed the students the Awesome Year Challenge, which directs the viewers to consider a new type of resolution: make this year awesome for someone else. Each Lower School student came up with an idea of something they can do to make this year awesome for someone else. This, I think is the secret to happiness: making life better for someone else. 

Posted by Silvia Davis on Thursday January, 31, 2019 at 11:19AM


Choose groups to clone to:

1295 Inman Ave,
Edison, NJ 08820
(908) 754-1882
The Wardlaw + Hartridge School is a top private and college prep school in Edison, New Jersey, which provides an independent, pioneering educational experience at the early childhood, kindergarten, elementary, middle, and high school levels.
powered by finalsite