Debatt ● Toktam Ramezanifarkhani

How to bring the theory of happiness into practical teaching

After studying the happiness theory, I tried using it to achieve happiness in my class activities during teaching. It served my students as well as myself.

— I asked myself how we can bring more happiness to teaching. How? By adding friends and making memories.

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Everybody needs, wants, and deserves happiness. However, it is not always straightforward to be happy or to help others be happy. 

After studying the happiness theory, I tried using it in my class activities, resulting in a successful experiment that I will share with you, as well as repeat for myself and my students. 

The happiness theory lists three macronutrients for happiness: enjoyment, satisfaction, and meaning. Enjoyment means having a pleasant time with people you like while you make memories together. 

To achieve enjoyment in my class, I organized a workshop related to the course, followed by a small social event of eating and mingling. Students and I made memories by talking individually, in small groups, taking photos, and sharing comments and feedback. We will remember this day, making all of us smile. While we all know the key takeover and the learning outcomes, we also know that we will repeat this experience, because we enjoyed it. 

The pleasure of having a social event with people on a reasonable budget is usually achievable at a school. Moreover, teaching provides an excellent opportunity to involve people you know in creating enjoyment—as a teacher, you always have your students.

Students made remarkable progress during the course, the lab assignments, and especially in the workshop. Their growth was both academic and personal, which was a source of immense satisfaction for me. Finally, I guided them step by step to achieve a certificate that made them, and thus me, very satisfied.

All these activities had the explicit meaning and purpose of preparing the students for their future jobs and enriching their CVs. Some people may have little sense that they're serving others with their work. However, taking steps to change students’ career paths gives tremendous meaning to teaching. 

After this experiment, I could check all the boxes within the happiness theory. So, what exactly is this theory?

So, I asked myself how we can bring more happiness to teaching. 

Toktam Ramezanifarkhani

Many parameters have affected people's happiness; people have gradually become less happy since the late '80s or maybe the early '90s. They're less likely to have a close relationship with their families. People have fewer and fewer friends who know them well. Climate changes, COVID-19, storms, war, and global uncertainty have affected people's happiness. Physical communication has been converted to social media communication, which makes people lonelier.

Moreover, we all spend a significant portion of our lives at work; thus, feeling happy at work is an essential part of a happy life! 

Teachers, lecturers, and professors at schools and universities are no exceptions. All the aspects that affect people's happiness affect our teaching as well. Online education and virtual communication affect the teacher and students' happiness. 

So, I asked myself how we can bring more happiness to teaching. 

When psychologists ask people what they want, the answer is usually: We want to be happy. But it is not easy to define happiness or explain what it looks like. We think it's a feeling. We think it's a destination. It isn’t either. Happiness is not a destination to reach. It's a direction to follow. It's about actively gaining knowledge and information about what we do to shape our lives toward happiness. 

To have enjoyment, we need pleasure. But, if you're hitting the pleasure lever repeatedly and you're alone, you only get addicted. So, we need to transfer pleasure to enjoyment. How? By adding friends and making memories.

As we’ve seen, the second macronutrient of happiness is satisfaction, which is the thrill of accomplishing a goal you worked for. Human beings are made to make progress, and progress makes us feel satisfied. 

The arrival fallacy is that all will be well once you get the money, the marriage, the car. The truth is that the greatest joy comes from the progress toward accomplishment, even though it requires a lot of struggles. When we overcome challenges, we feel more satisfied. The view feels more satisfying after climbing up a mountain or walking a long distance compared to driving or walking there without any challenges. 

People are also less likely to live a spiritual life or find meaning if they lack purpose and meaning. Teaching has the meaning of raising the next generation and giving them the required knowledge, competence, and skills in a discipline relevant to their life. 

In addition, there are four pillars for happiness: faith, family, friends, and work that serves others. If you don't have these pillars working in your life, you will eventually end up feeling lonely, distanced, or disconnected. Without these pillars, no amount of money, power, pleasure, or fame will make you happy. 

Without these pillars, no amount of money, power, pleasure, or fame will make you happy. 

So, happiness is a combination of enjoyment, satisfaction, and meaning resting upon the four happiness pillars: faith, family, friends, and work that serves others.

I experienced a deep sense of happiness in my teaching by focusing on how to bring enjoyment, satisfaction, and meaning to my class activities. This served my beloved students and society in my work. Now, I'm looking forward to more enrichment in the future to achieve more quality and happiness in higher education.

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