We Can Be Happy

Interim Head of School Lila Lohr answers the question: isn’t anyone happy anymore?

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Lila Lohr, Interim Head of School

Perhaps at some level I anticipated the trifecta of incredibly worrisome national and international news, the grayest winter in recent Seattle history, and the annual February gloom that invades every school. For whatever reason, I clipped a December Opinion piece from The New York Times entitled, “Isn’t Anyone Happy Anymore?” and added it to my bedside table collection.

It landed amid a slew of articles on increasing teenage anxiety and depression; treatises on how kids correlate their popularity and even self-worth with the number of likes and followers their social media posts collect; and self-help editorials pointing out our folly of valuing busyness, multi-tasking, and filling our calendars, allowing very little time to actually focus on and enjoy any moment.

I’m a big believer in the power of modeling the attitudes and behavior you hope to inspire in others. My high school memories include the impact of the resiliency, sense of hope and ability to stay in the present, or lack thereof, that I watched in the teachers and adults around me. So I’m making a conscious choice to loudly answer the question “Isn’t anyone happy anymore?” in the affirmative, both for me and our students.

Yes, we can be happy, and to do so we’re going to work on trying to stay in the moment, to figure out the 2020 equivalent of my grandmother’s admonition, to “stop and smell the roses.” We can model the behavior of not bringing our cell phones to the dinner table; doing everything in our power to squeeze in family dinners amid music lessons, homework and games, and perhaps even starting those meals with a moment of silence, and, if we’re really ambitious, reflection. We can revert to better days when we kept gratitude journals, or the 2020 version of jotting down or sharing three good things that happened in our day. Perhaps most importantly, we can make the time and model for our children the healing, restorative, hopeful feeling that can wash over us when we take the time to help others and focus our energy on being part of the solution rather than just wallowing in the problems. For myself, I know it’s true that after venting about my latest dilemma, I feel better when I’m working toward a solution. Perhaps that’s worth modeling.

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