"Happyness? Happiness? Y? I? A rather Geordie dilemma… At risk of upsetting Will Smith or the copywrighters, we will opt for an ‘i’. But, whilst there may, grammatically, be an ‘i’ in happiness, philosophically, that ‘I’ is part of a collective; a community.
All too often, happiness is considered to be the default state enjoyed in the absence of any form of pathology: if people are not unhappy, they must be happy. Etymologically, there is perhaps some truth in this, the word itself deriving from the Middle English ‘hap’, meaning ‘luck’ (as in that lovely old-fashioned word ‘happenstance’). If we have not suffered any misfortune, then we have, in a way, been fortunate. But to confine happiness to something which is only available in the absence of something else, something which is, essentially, a fluke of fate, seems to do it- and us- rather a disservice.
Happiness is indeed something which needs to be actively pursued, and those who enjoy happiness often do not do so simply through good fortune. Helpfully, various studies have observed that there are common behavioural traits amongst happy people and these have been enshrined in ‘The 12 Happiness Habits’:
Learn to play
Savour the positive
Harness your strengths
Live with meaning
Turn to nature
Strive for success
There is no ‘hap’ in making these things happen, though a 12-week term has rather conveniently (haply?) lent itself to celebrating one habit each week in order to instil these amongst our boys. We have enjoyed assemblies at all levels highlighting individual happiness habits; encouraged play with wild outdoor camps and water sports trips; displayed gratitude towards our friends and staff across the school. With a plethora of outlets for these goals, if we can make good practice a habit, a very Happy Christmas should await at the end of the term."