Being part of School of the Nations involves not only academics but so much more. Our families, students and staff make up a unique educational community that helps shape world citizens who make the world a better place. We strive to develop students’ abilities to contribute to peace, progress and happiness. The theme of our annual campaign this year, ‘Build a Happy World,’ reflects our desire to support and serve others in living happy lives.
People of all ages desire happiness. When we ask parents who visit the School for their first time about their expectation for their child’s education, one of the most common replies involves happiness. This wish flows out of love and care. It is not simply an intuitive feeling. Research shows that if a child is happy (has a strong sense of well-being) he or she learns, makes friends and takes initiatives to grow and develop more easily and thrives in the school environment. Happiness lights up children’s hearts and minds.
What constitutes happiness is not simple to answer. As co-educators of your children, we need to examine the clichés surrounding happiness and find the essential and driving forces that create and sustain it.
Materialism promotes the notion that happiness is something we can buy, consume or acquire. We are lead to believe that others can bestow happiness upon us, much like Santa Claus gives gifts. Happiness is often equated with pleasure and short-term material gratification. We may feel happy eating an ice cream, buying a new outfit, or seeing the latest movie. But these moments of happiness are short-lived—they quickly fade into memories, losing their freshness and intensity. We are then obliged to seek other entertainment or distractions from sources outside ourselves. We eventually discover (sometimes over and over) that lasting happiness is not something we buy or that someone owes us. Nor is it something someone should deliver to us in just the way we expect or imagine. Happiness often eludes us when we try to pursue it. This is because real happiness is a by-product of our character, attitudes, and conduct. We cannot just hope for happiness and then expect to receive it.
“…for human happiness is founded upon spiritual behavior” `Abdu'l-Bahá
As co-educators of your children, we need to explore what leads to their happiness. We must cultivate and encourage the development of their many latent qualities and virtues that will conduce to their happiness and well-being. Every person has an internal lamp that can be lit to irradiate love, kindness and goodness.
“Every child is potentially the light of the world” `Abdu'l-Bahá
When we consistently strive to put values into action, it generates the positive, internal state we call happiness. If a child practices reflective, ethical thinking and spiritual behavior from an early age, he or she will avoid many of the pitfalls that cause unhappiness.
A child, just like an adult, makes decisions and choices daily that are transformative—for better or for worse. So, as your children’s cheerleaders, here are some strategies to promote their true happiness and happiness in the world:
Look for the positive in people and in situations.
Be kind to others in word and deed.
Develop an attitude of gratitude. Each day recall things you appreciate.
Be fair in your judgment and do not gossip.
Seek and tell the truth.
Seek to be a problem solver. Analyze problems and put them into perspective rather than magnify them or the faults of others.
Be trustworthy. Keep your word.
Practice serving others in the way they need.
Support others to do and be their best.
Do good without expecting reward or recognition in return.
Trust in a higher power—God as you know him—the universe in its beauty.
These are a few of the virtuous habits associated with happiness and honor. We will work on many more with students. Please be assured that our staff and administration want not only for your children to be happy but to assume the moral leadership necessary to build a happier world.
Have a great school year!