And no, it’s not good exam results, an influx of new students, coming home to cooked meal, glass of wine and a clean kitchen, or having all student fees paid on time. (Though these might indeed give us a happiness hit!)
There are many misconceptions about happiness. Namely, the things that we THINK will make us happy.
Usually our idea of happiness is connectedness to the goals we have in life; being married, having a family, work success, true love, lots of money, the perfect body…
But these kind of goals (which we all have) actually will not make you happy. And sadly, the science is there to prove it!
And this is all because of the way our mind works. Our minds have many ‘annoying features’ that wreck any happiness gained from such kinds of goals very quickly.
But the GOOD NEWS here is that the science also shows what WILL make us more happy.
So lets get to the good stuff…
This fascinating subject captured us when undertaking a recent training about the Science of Wellbeing and it helped us realise the ways we can better set ourselves up (AND our students) to experience more happiness, resilience and ‘peace of mind’ no matter the challenges that arise, in or out of the studio. We talk all about and offer a step by step easy to follow guide on how to help OUR DANCERS do this, in our upcoming 6th April seminar ‘Your Wellbeing Roadmap on Return to the Studio’.
But for the purpose of this blog post, this bit below is about us and FIVE scientifically proven things WE can do to increase our own happiness and wellbeing at this time.
Alright, already! We hear you saying…
Okay, here it comes. Pens at the ready.
The FIVE things that are scientifically guaranteed to make us happier.
- Random Acts of Kindness – and this is not intended to sound cheesy. Kindness genuinely creates happiness for both the giver and receiver. There’s a lot of empirical evidence that proves that in doing this we have more happiness. And happy people think about kindness more.
HOW EXACTLY? It doesn’t have to be a huge gesture or even involve money. However, the actual science proves you do need to do 5 kind acts per day for it to deeply effect your ongoing happiness – and these acts can be for anyone, students, parents, staff, family, friends, strangers. Anything from lending a listening ear when you don’t think you have the time, to donating to a charity. The key is, you have to feel like you are actually sacrificing something (no matter how small) in return, whether that be your time, or something else. Bear in mind, if the acts are things you’d normally do anyway as part of routine, work or habit this won’t have the same effect on your feelings of happiness. So get creative with your kindness!
2. Time Affluence – feeling like you have enough time to do the things you want to do (including nothing) without feeling strapped for time. Hmmm, not sounding familiar??! Studies show that people that prioritise time over money are much happier.
HOW EXACTLY? Probably the hardest one for many of us to work on (unless we’ve retired!) particularly if most of our day is taken up with a to do list that mainly involves ‘to dos’ for other people or for our work. This one does tend to require you to have ownership over your working hours, meaning it’s probably logistically more do-able for those who run their own business OR work part-time. This is often why the happiest wealthy people only work 2 or 3 hours a day (working smart, not hard). Having the financial freedom to own your time fully, whether thats in retirement, or you go out of your way to set your work life up in this way. Sadly, many of us spend more time working than anything else, and even if we LOVE our work we often aren’t leaving enough time to do the other things we want to do, like spend quality time with our children or families, go on holiday more often, re-decorate, take a new hobby or study something new, etc. Just food for thought! If you’re work pulls on all your signature strengths and you feel completely in FLOW most of the time then you are extremely lucky – and therefore may not feel time affluence is an issue for you. Though we know from experience, being a dance teacher often comes with ‘control’ streak tendencies! Meaning you’re probably working ALL the time even when not in the studio, and more often than not feeling mentally exhausted.
3. Controlling your own mind – the present moment, the power of now, meditation, mindfulness, awareness…whatever you prefer to call it, it all comes down to being more in control of where your attention goes and what your mind is thinking about, rather than your mind letting you ruminate on the past or worry about the future.
HOW EXACTLY? By whatever method you discover works best for you – be it mindfulness practice, guided mediation, the stop technique, to name a few. The bottom line is, it’s a continuous practice, not at end destination, and the more you practice the more you will realise you’re in control of your thoughts, and therefore your levels of positive emotions, at any given time. Being in the moment more often than not helps you to ACT rather than REACT, to observe yourself, your feelings, thoughts and actions, and become more self-aware so that you make better decisions and feel calmer, amongst many other benefits. An easy way to begin practicing this more is to introduce mindful breathing exercises as part of the dance sessions you deliver – ideally before the warm up at the start of a class, this way the students get to benefit from this practice as well as you.
4. Sleep & Exercise – the very first thing any of us should look at, or suggest a student to look at, if we’re struggling mentally or emotionally at any time is our sleep. It is quite possibly THE most important factor to our overall wellbeing!
HOW EXACTLY? Get 7-8 hours of quality sleep per night. Yup. It’s official. We all need to go to bed earlier. And sort out our sleep hygiene! And by that I mean our evening ‘wind down’…i.e. relaxing at least an hour before actually hitting our heads on the pillow, no screens/blue light, etc. And as for exercise…well, as dance teachers we know we don’t need to explain that part to you! So we’ll leap, stretch and jump over it…
5. Social connectedness – something we’re realising only too well in recent times. The importance of connection with others, physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually…ALL of the above! In short, that feeling of belonging we get from connecting with others in meaningful ways is something every human needs to thrive. And be happier.
HOW EXACTLY? Through our work, if we feel deeply connected to it, and the people we work with. Through our meaningful friendships. Through quality family time. Online or off-line. However, studies show that (as we probably already know) connecting with people face to face has much more power and positive effect on our happiness. Which is why in-person social settings are better because they involve the elements of eye contact and subtle changes of facial expression that we respond to in conversation, smiling, and often touch, all of which chemically effect our feelings of connectedness with that person/people. Which is why online has its place in aiding social connection and belongingness, but it cannot replace the wellbeing and happiness benefits of our in-person interactions. Roll on studio return!
Have any of these surprised you?
We’d love to know in the comments below which of these you feel you’re doing most and least currently – Acts of Kindness, Time Affluence, Controlling your Own Mind, Sleep, Exercise, Social Connectedness – and any that have made you consider what you could definitely do today to start increasing your happiness levels.
Join us for our upcoming dance teacher seminar ‘Your Wellbeing Roadmap‘ Tuesday 6th April where we offer a guiding plan to nurture not only happiness and enjoyment, but actively help you increase the emotional wellbeing and resilience of your students. In short, it’s a guide to raising healthier dancers, in body, mind and spirit. We talk you through how you can do this in SIMPLE but EFFECTIVE ways WITHIN your existing classes, and in a way that won’t add stress or load to your to-do list. Head here for details and to book your spot or watch the recording.