Happy Class 101
1. What is The Happy Class?
The Happy Class is a fun, motivational experience for kids that explores the benefits of positive mental health and overcoming personal challenges with the power of your own thoughts. We are twin sisters Michelle and Brigitta, and we host the interactive performance that is The Happy Class.
We bring passion and energy to every performance. The Happy Class is a fun and uplifting experience that encourages kids to develop and maintain a confident and healthy mindset.
We come to your school, venue, or home with everything we need. We can be flexible with your venue needs. Please contact us for more information.
2. Are You Approved to Work in Schools?
We are school board approved and our program is in line with the educational curriculum of Public, Catholic, and Private schools (including Montessori) in Ontario..
3. Is The Happy Class Covid-19 Friendly?
Yes! We are following each school’s covid-19 safety protocol. We are both fully vaccinated and we’ve adapted our program to ensure the safety of students and staff.
4. How long does The Happy Class last?
The class lasts 1 hour and kids are left feeling uplifted, inspired, and better equipped to make greater choices for their own well-being. We do require some set up and tear down time before and after the performance.
5. What will kids get out of The Happy Class?
The Happy Class covers the following topics: mindfulness, gratitude, perspective, courage, resilience, self-esteem, attitude, inner-strength, overcoming challenges, optimism and more!
Our passion and energy is truly felt by our audience. People leave The Happy Class feeling motivated, uplifted and inspired. Cards are provided for kids to take away and they're encouraged to visit our website for online resources. Kids can also follow our blog and our instagram profile where we share wisdom and guidance to help inspire them on their journey.
6. What age range is The Happy Class meant for?
The Happy Class was designed with kids aged 8+ in mind, however kids who are older, younger, and even adults have all found value and enjoyment in what the experience has to offer.
7. Does The Happy Class speak to anti-bullying?
The Happy Class teaches values that promote and foster healthy social development. This can help to naturally offset the occurrence of bullying in a social environment. We empower kids and give them tools to help strengthen their self-esteem. The Happy Class can certainly be included as part of an anti-bullying program within elementary schools and community programs.
8. Does The Happy Class speak to mental health?
The Happy Class is fundamentally rooted in positive mental health by creating and maintaining a healthy mindset. We cover topics that encourage positive psychological and emotional well-being, and we offer strategies to help kids cultivate and maintain healthy thinking with a positive attitude. Please see the facts & figures that we've gathered below to learn more.
Facts & Figures
state of well-being characterized by emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy.
Happiness is that feeling that comes over you when you know life is good and you can't help but smile. It's the opposite of sadness.
Happiness is a sense of well-being, joy, or contentment. When people are successful, or safe, or lucky, they feel happiness. The "pursuit of happiness" is something this country is based on, and different people feel happiness for different reasons. Whenever doing something causes happiness, people usually want to do more of it. No one ever complained about feeling too much happiness.
In psychology, happiness is a mental or emotional state of well-being which can be defined by positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense.
In philosophy, happiness is translated from the Greek concept of eudaimonia, and refers to the good life, or flourishing, as opposed to an emotion. Happiness in this sense was used to translate the Greek eudaimonia, and is still used in virtue ethics.
Promoting positive mental health
Positive mental health includes:
- feeling in control of your life and personal decisions
- being able to cope with life's challenges and stresses
- functioning well mentally, such as being able to focus while at work or school
- being generally optimistic about life events
(this means having hope that good things can, do and will happen in your life)
- feeling physically healthy and getting enough sleep
- feeling like you belong to your community, such as your: school, workplace, neighbourhood etc.
When you have positive mental health, you are able to handle problems and challenges more easily. This is called resilience.
If you are resilient, you have:
- the ability to learn new skills, ideas and concepts
- the ability to adapt to change and new situations
- healthy self-esteem
- this means having a positive attitude about yourself
- confidence when managing conflict
- personal support from family and friends
- good ways of coping with stress, such as knowing how to relax
- the ability to practise positive self-talk to think through situations before acting and to prevent negative thoughts
- the foresight to avoid stressful social relationships, such as interacting with people who make you feel bad about yourself or uncomfortable
- the proficiency to plan pleasant events for yourself and keeping those plans
Why is promoting positive mental health important?
Promoting positive mental health as an everyday issue can:
- prevent the onset of some mental health problems
- decrease the number of people: whose mental health is poor, who experience the symptoms of mental illness, who die by suicide
- support people who suffer from mental health issues
- increase the number of people who enjoy positive mental health
Promoting positive mental health also:
- strengthens individuals
- strengthens communities
- increases access to health and social services
- improves your physical health - this is because dealing with stress in a useful way can boost your immune system
- helps to reduce the stigma of mental health - stigma is the negative associations made about certain people, qualities or circumstances
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the practice of purposely focusing your attention on the present moment—and accepting it without judgment. Mindfulness is now being examined scientifically and has been found to be a key element in stress reduction and overall happiness.
Mindfulness improves well-being.
Increasing your capacity for mindfulness supports many attitudes that contribute to a satisfied life. Being mindful makes it easier to savor the pleasures in life as they occur, helps you become fully engaged in activities, and creates a greater capacity to deal with adverse events. By focusing on the here and now, many people who practice mindfulness find that they are less likely to get caught up in worries about the future or regrets over the past, are less preoccupied with concerns about success and self-esteem, and are better able to form deep connections with others.
Mindfulness improves physical health.
If greater well-being isn’t enough of an incentive, scientists have discovered that mindfulness techniques help improve physical health in a number of ways. Mindfulness can: help relieve stress, treat heart disease, lower blood pressure, reduce chronic pain, improve sleep, and alleviate gastrointestinal difficulties.
Mindfulness improves mental health.
In recent years, psychotherapists have turned to mindfulness meditation as an important element in the treatment of a number of problems, including: depression, substance abuse, eating disorders, couples’ conflicts, anxiety disorders, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Some experts believe that mindfulness works, in part, by helping people to accept their experiences—including painful emotions—rather than react to them with aversion and avoidance.
Disease Resistance - Harvard Medical School found that regular, long-term practitioners of mindfulness meditation and other relaxation exercises have increased amounts of active genes that fight serious diseases and disorders (2).
The effects of mindfulness practice have been shown to be extremely effective in also decreasing symptoms associated with these illnesses. In many trials, mindfulness was proven to be equally as effective as drug treatments. The added bonus being that these mindfulness meditation and relaxation techniques lacked the dangerous and uncomfortable side effects.
Emotional Health - One thing that we just don’t give enough attention to these days is our emotional well-being. Many people out there are suffering from depression or anxiety, not to mention stress – and feel it’s just an unavoidable part of life. Our emotional well-being benefits greatly from the daily practice of mindfulness. It can help us gain a better perspective, manage stress, improve self-awareness, help us focus on the present and reduce negative emotions that can overwhelm us.
Considering the money our society collectively spends on therapy, chemical drugs and treatments, it almost seems absurd to overlook something as simple as a daily mindfulness practice.
Mindfulness lets our minds rest so we don’t fixate on the negative or drudge up the pain of the past to relive it over and over. It expands our awareness so we can see the bigger picture in life; this helps us put our problems into perspective. It makes life more rich and satisfying.
So many benefits to mindful living are continuously being revealed by scientific research, it seems we just can’t afford the skepticism anymore.
Why self-esteem matters
Kids who feel good about themselves have the confidence to try new things. They are more likely to try their best. They feel proud of what they can do. Self-esteem helps kids cope with mistakes. It helps kids try again, even if they fail at first. As a result, self-esteem helps kids do better at school, at home, and with friends.
Kids with low self-esteem feel unsure of themselves. If they think others won't accept them, they may not join in. They may let others treat them poorly. They may have a hard time standing up for themselves. They may give up easily, or not try at all. Kids with low self-esteem find it hard to cope when they make a mistake, lose, or fail. As a result, they may not do as well as they could.
• Developing positive self-esteem is especially important for kids with learning and attention issues.
• Self-esteem is tied to how capable and valuable your child feels.
• Giving your child ways to recognize strengths helps to boost self-esteem.
Help foster a growth mindset
Help your child reframe negative thoughts and statements. Kids with a growth mindset believe their abilities can improve over time. (As opposed to kids with a fixed mindset, who think their abilities are set and can’t change, no matter how hard they try.)
For example, your child might say, “I can’t read that. It’s too hard because I have dyslexia.” You can respond by saying, “Yes, reading is hard for you, and you can’t read that book yet. Let’s formulate a plan to get better at it.”
Teach that mistakes are learning experiences.
Part of having a growth mindset is acknowledging that mistakes are learning opportunities. When your child knows that it’s OK to fail and there are solutions to mistakes, it can help build self-esteem. Help your child find the “next time you can” in her mistakes. For example, you could say, “Yep, you spilled the juice. Next time you’re pouring the juice, you can hold your glass over the sink.”
• Fostering a growth mindset helps children find new ways to look at their abilities.
• Learning from mistakes and talking openly can help boost confidence and self-esteem.
• Being supportive but realistic is key to helping children develop positive self-esteem.
Anxiety and stress among children
1/2 of Ontario parents report having ever had concerns about their child's level of anxiety.
As many as 1 in 5 children and youth in Ontario will experience some form of mental health problem.
5 out of 6 of those kids will not receive the treatment they need.
70% of mental health problems have their onset during childhood or adolescence.
28% of students report not knowing where to turn when they wanted to talk to someone about mental health.
Half of Ontario parents who have sought mental health help for their child said they have faced challenges in getting the services they needed. The primary reason cited was long wait times (65%). Other challenges include: services don't offer what my child needs (38%), don't know where to go (26%), and don't offer services where I live (14%)
73% of teachers agreed that anxiety disorders were a pressing concern
One in 5 of children and youth under the age of 19 in Ontario has a mental health problem. This means that at any given time, almost 20% of students in an 'average' classroom will be dealing with some type of mental health issue - making it difficult for them to learn, or behave appropriately. Children whose mental health problems are left untreated may be disruptive in class or bully other students. Even more serious, poor grades and dropping out are both strongly associated with mental health problems.
70% of mental health problems have their onset during childhood or adolescence
• While mental illness accounts for about 10% of the burden of disease in Ontario, it receives just 7% of health care dollars. Relative to this burden, mental health care in Ontario is underfunded by about $1.5 billion.8,24
• An estimated 75% of children with mental disorders do not access specialized treatment services.26
Stress among children is estimated to have increased 45% over the past 30 years
Stress is a normal part of everyday life for children and adults. It helps to motivate us and adds a positive challenge to life. However, too much stress can be counter-productive and overwhelming.
Even the most nurturing home and school environment includes a range of stressors that can both challenge and motivate children. While stress is a necessary part of development and learning, it’s clear that Canadian families now face more stress than ever before.
The good news is that building emotional health and resiliency can help children concentrate, learn, interact more successfully and deal with other stressors they may face in their lives.
Why focus on children’s stress? Because too much stress:
• Makes it more difficult for children to get along with others
• Interferes with children's ability to focus, think and ultimately learn
• Has a profound effect on children's physical, emotional and mental health
By helping children learn positive coping strategies to deal with stress, you can help build their resiliency and prevent stress from escalating to distress, anxiety and meltdowns.
What is happiness,
from a scientist's point of view?
Researchers think of happiness as having satisfaction and meaning in your life. It’s the propensity to feel positive emotions, the capacity to recover from negative emotions quickly, and holding a sense of purpose.
Happiness is not having a lot of privilege or money. It’s not constant pleasure.
It’s a broader thing: Our ability to connect with others, to have meaningful relationships, to have a community. Time and again—across decades of research and across all studies—people who say they’re happy have strong connections with community and with other people.
Happiness is within our conscious control
Research on twins suggests that about 50 percent of the variance of happiness between two people has to do with our genes. Identical twins are more likely to have similar happiness scores than fraternal twins. That leaves a lot that’s not genetic.
Research by Sonia Lyubomirsky, PhD, at UC Riverside suggests life circumstances—how privileged you are, whether you’re married, whether you have kids—accounts for about 10 percent of the variance in happiness. She attributes 40 percent—nearly half the variance—to our daily life experiences. The people you see, the activities you do, how you see your world each day.
Now, not all researchers agree with her model. But if it is right, then we have the capacity to change our own happiness. We can adopt a new perspective on other people that’s less fearful or competitive. We can engage in some sort of self-awareness practice like gratitude.
So it’s not striving for happiness that matters. What matters is enabling yourself to have the experiences that we know make people happier. To spend time with someone who matters to you. To know that you are there for them when they need support, and they are there for you.
Happiness is infectious
According to studies from the British Medical Journal and Harvard University, simply being around happy people can make you happy.
“People’s happiness depends on the happiness of others with whom they are connected. This provides further justification for seeing happiness, like health, as a collective phenomenon.”
"Everyday interactions we have with other people are definitely contagious, in terms of happiness," says Nicholas Christakis, a professor at Harvard Medical School and an author of the study.
Perhaps more surprising, Christakis says, is that the effect extends beyond the people we come into contact with. When one person becomes happy, the social network effect can spread up to 3 degrees — reaching friends of friends.
Of course, it's true that emotions can be fleeting; happiness is elusive and sometimes it's situational. For these reasons, emotional states are difficult to measure, says Robert Provine, a professor of psychology at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. "There are lots of challenges."
Nonetheless, Provine, who has studied the contagion of laughter, says this study is impressive in showing that moods can be contagious, too.
Kindness is contagious
Kindness is contagious, according to a study by researchers at University of California, Los Angeles, and University of Cambridge and University of Plymouth in the United Kingdom. “When we see someone else help another person it gives us a good feeling,” the study states, “Which in turn causes us to go out and do something altruistic ourselves.”
Doing good for others is also good for yourself.
Helping others gives you perspective on your own situation, and teaches you to be appreciative of what you have. The Global One Foundation describes volunteering as a way to “promote a deeper sense of gratitude as we recognize more of what is already a blessing/gift/positive in our life.”
Helping others can teach you to help yourself. If you’ve been through a tough experience or just have a case of the blues, the “activism cure” is a great way get back to feeling like yourself, according to research from the University of Texas. “Volunteer work improves access to social and psychological resources, which are known to counter negative moods,” the study read.
Whether with a large group of people in a volunteer organization, or just between two friends exchanging words of advice, helping people creates a feeling of community. “Face-to-face activities such as volunteering at a drop-in center can help reduce loneliness and isolation,” according to the Mental Health Foundation.
People with a more optimistic attitude are more likely to bounce back from their challenges
Happy people have their own share of challenges and tragedies; the difference is how they cope with those challenges. They were also able to stabilize their heart rates more quickly that those who were more negative.
Happy people embrace failure
Failing is a way to figure out what works, and then making changes that lead to happiness and success.
As a parent, your happiness influences the happiness of your children
Happiness researchers note that the happiness levels of parents directly affect the happiness level of their kids. In other words, happy parents are statistically more likely to have happy children.
Teaching kids self-discipline increases their happiness and success later in life. Specifically a preschooler’s ability delay gratification predicted later levels of intelligence, success, and happiness.
Floral scents make you happy
Ever hear someone say, “Stop and smell the roses”? It might not be a bad idea. According to a study by Rutgers University researchers, those who are exposed to floral scents are about three times as likely to be happy.
Bright colours can brighten your day
According to a 2010 study out of the journal BMC Medical Research Methodology, bright colours go hand-in-hand with happiness. This is especially true of yellow, the study found, as happier people favour that colour. Oppositely, gray was most closely associated with anxiety and depression in the study.
Happiness can help alleviate pain
Happiness as a pain reliever? Yup. A 2005 study published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology looked at women who suffer from arthritis and chronic pain. According to the study, those who experienced more positive emotions — happiness, enthusiasm, etc. — were less likely to experience pain.
Being outside can make you happier
The world outside of your office can be such a happy place. According to a study published in the journal Global Environmental Change, being outdoors makes people happier. The ideal spot for happiness is an outdoor spot near the water when the weather is warm, according to the study.
Strong emotional development in childhood is crucial to laying a good foundation for mental health and emotional stability as an adult
By adolescence, an estimated one in five, or 1.2 million, children and youth in Canada are affected by mental illness, according to the Mental Health Commission of Canada. In fact, many mental health problems start in childhood and adolescence. Because only one in five Canadian children who need mental health services receive them, according to the Canadian Mental Health Association, mental illness continues into adulthood.
“One of the things I’ve heard across the board is that kids don’t know where to go for help with mental health issues,” she adds. “Almost nobody asks them if they need help. Sometimes, adults assume that if kids are getting good grades, their mental health is just fine. Young people say they are under an incredible amount of pressure to succeed at school, they are overscheduled, and sleeping poorly. Not all of this is mental illness, but a lot of it is poor mental health.”
“People with mental illnesses have a long history of being stereotyped and stigmatized. With the influx of youth, and especially teens, who are struggling with mental health concerns in today’s society, it is crucial to address different support mechanisms, and provide an understanding and comforting environment through creating awareness and increasing government funding for mental wellness.”
Healthy emotional and social development in early years lay the foundation for mental health and resilience throughout life. An estimated 1.2 million children and youth in Canada are affected by mental illness—yet, less than 20 per cent will receive appropriate treatment. By age 25, approximately 20 per cent of Canadians will have developed a mental illness. Youth who are engaged in child and adolescent mental health services, and who require continued services, are also often not well supported as they prepare to enter the adult mental health system.