By InterCHANGE Associate Marisa Angelillo
As dedicated Mosaic mentors, we work diligently to make sure our mentees grow in confidence, self-efficacy and we do our best to ensure that we share our work experiences to help prepare them for their future employability. But if there was one other gift we could engender in our mentees, or indeed, any of our loved ones, I believe that gift would be happiness.
But what exactly is happiness and why is it so important? According to Matthieu Ricard, a French writer, Buddhist monk and eminent scientist:
‘Happiness is a deep sense of flourishing, not a mere pleasurable feeling or fleeting emotion but an optimal state of being.’
Science is showing that there are many benefits to happier living, including:
- Health – happier people have fewer colds and are less at risk of heart disease
- Live longer – one study suggests as much as 10 years (that’s more than not smoking!)
- Better relationships – which are also good for our happiness
- Are likely to do better at work
- Help others more
Action for Happiness (www.actionforhappiness.org) is a movement of people committed to building a happier and more caring society. Their mission is to help create a fundamentally different way of life – where people care less about what they can get just for themselves and more about the happiness of others. They have devised 10 keys for happier living based on scientific research. The 10 keys are: giving, direction, relating, resilience, exercising, emotions, awareness, acceptance, trying out and meaning.
One of the keys that we can very easily share with our mentees is ‘positive emotions’, otherwise known as, ‘look for what is good’. This involves writing down 3 good things that happen to you every day. You also need to write down why those things were good. Psychologists have found that positive emotions do us good. When we experience positive emotions we can literally open up like a waterlily waking up to the sunshine. When you are open you can see more, be more compassionate, able to trust others and welcome new ideas.
Children’s ability to learn improves and they get better results in tests. Positive emotion fuels creativity, learning and the courage to try new things. In a scientific experiment people were asked to ‘look for what is good’ each night for one week. After doing so they showed an increase in happiness and a decrease in depressive symptoms that lasted for up to 6 months. This is an activity that can be introduced into our mentoring sessions right at the beginning of the programme and followed-up at the start of every session. It will be interesting to see what impact this has on our mentees’ level engagement and success on the programme not to mention on their overall confidence, self-efficacy and eventual employability.
20th March is The International Day of Happiness. Check out these useful resources for happier mentoring! : www.dayofhappiness.net/pack