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Merchiston students and staff have been exploring the 12 Habits for Happiness this term. We would like to share with you what we have discovered. Wishing you and your family a wonderful Christmas and a very Happy New Year.

"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

Express gratitude

Savour the positive

Harness your strengths

Live with meaning

Learn optimism

Value relationships

Practice kindness

Get physical

Turn to nature

Practise mindfulness

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."

Danny Rowlands, Deputy Head Wellbeing