“I sure wish I’d learned that in school!”
I have heard this phrase so many times when teaching classes or coaching clients.
And I agree.
When I think back about how much daily use I get from my French geography class, versus how many times a day I pull up one of the communication skills I have picked up over the last two decades, it seems clear to me that the earlier we could learn how to exist in the world, the better it would be.
Compassion. Patience. Curiosity.
Peace of Mind. Resilience. Kindness. Self Care.
And yes, a bit of Magic.
Every time someone tells me this, I think “that’s it. I am going to open a school and teach this stuff in some classroom setting.” And then life happens and I am back to leading Retreats - which I love - or working with someone one-on-one, or writing. Which I love also.
But what about “The School??” The school where the curriculum is based around Happiness and learning to get along better with ourselves and others? The school that does not require to fly across the world or pay a lot of money per hour? The … Happiness School?
A couple of months ago, while watching someone I love juggle more balls in the air than is healthy, I decided to go for it. I would create the Happiness School. I would teach one lesson at a time. I would make it super accessible. And cheap.
So here it is.
The Happiness School is ready to go.
One lesson per month, taught live online. Time for questions. A bit of homework. An online community for support for in between classes, too.
The curriculum will include anything that allows us to live life with more ease, more joy, and more confidence. We will talk about communication, relationships, creativity, peace of mind, and much more.
My students will learn skills that will allow them to become stronger and stronger in their ability to ride life’s waves with agility AND JOY. Together, we will grow our “mental immunity” so that life’s twists and turns will affect us much less and for a shorter amount of time. Little by little, the kind voices in our heads will become much louder than the mean ones. Our life will get sweeter, easier.
And then, the thing that for me is the biggest reason I do the work I do: we will be able to give so much more to the ones we love.
Because as Archbishop Desmond Tutu says:
"The goal is not just to create joy for ourselves but to be a reservoir of joy, an oasis of peace, a pool of serenity that can ripple out to all those around you."
School will keep going for as long as we have things to talk about. My guess is it will be a good while. I am purty excited about this.
First day of class is January 4.
General application period opens this Monday, December 3. For a personal invitation to apply two days early, click here (the first 100 students will get a discount and pay only $29 per month).
It took a while, and sometimes that’s just how it works. I trust the that the timing is perfect and that this will be a blessing for many of us.
Wishing you much peace and fun for the rest of the week!
PS: Because we cannot always be available at a certain time, any lesson missed will be recorded.
A student shares with me about “Camp Grandma.”
Every year, she invites all of her “5-years old and older” grandchildren to spend one week at her home. She sets up an arrangement of tents all over the yard, as well as a huge canopy for “base camp.” They cook, they play, they do all kinds of great stuff, and when they leave, she sleeps for thirteen hours straight. She tells me that this is the only way for some of the kids to get to know their cousins. She tells me that her own grandma inspired her to do this, and so she does.
I think of my mom who did not know most of her grandkids’ birthdays and who had warned me, years before I had my first child that she had done enough for hers and would not be caring for mine. She did a good job of staying true to her word.
Having dinner with a close friend in Seattle, last week. He tells me about his dad whose brain has been changing dramatically and I hear once more that my friend has been the best of sons and companions. Then I hear about the gift of healing and the gift of family. My friend’s dad and his mom have been divorced for many years. When the older man needed a place to rest after surgery in the city where the mom lives, both he and my friend were welcome with open arms into her home. She cared for him as a cherished family member.
My heart soaked that up to the last drop.
As I get ready to welcome pieces of the eclectic puzzle of my own family into my home this week (and as I get ready to sorely miss some parts, also) I drink both of the stories in. Both stories of giving, of loving, of welcoming, and of letting our hearts guide us into making sure the people who matter to us know that they do.
We may sleep for thirteen hours when it’s all over, and it will be well worth it.
Whether you are surrounded by lots of faces or whether yours is a very calm holiday (these can be very sweet, too. Last year I was alone on top of a little medieval village in Southern Italy, and enjoyed my quiet inner gratitude) I wish you much love in your heart. And a deep knowledge that YOU MATTER.
I have been waiting to share these two stories for months now - and since today is World Happiness Day, today is the day. Get ready.
Hilena was the very first person to say YES when I decided to create The Happiness Sprinkling Project. I ran my strange idea past her in the fall of 2012, and she immediately answered: I would love to do it. I would love to Sprinkle Happiness in Washington DC! (remember 2012 in DC?) We printed a set of Signs just for that, she and her team stayed outside holding Signs for hours. The rest is history.
Then, a year later, on her birthday, she did it again and this is that day’s magic that I want to share with you right now.
Two helpings of magic, actually.
Like I said, get ready.
Straight from Hilena's words.
Happiness Sprinkling Magic #1.
“I wanted to do nothing other than Sprinkle Happiness on my birthday. Therefore, on September 2, 2013, I hosted another Happiness Sprinkling in Washington D.C., at a busy intersection. My friends and I spread out to all four corners. It was a magical day. One of the Signs in the box was a handmade “Joy” sign. Although it was unusual to have a handwritten sign, I liked the message so I kept it out of the box. One of the Sprinklers decided to hold it at the northeast side of the intersection.
Midway through the event, a young man, he must have been mid 20s, approached us at our main station, where I had Signs displayed in the grass, under a tree. He stood there, reading the Signs and really taking all of the messages in slowly and deliberately. I approached with my favorite sign —Free Hugs— and said, “we are Sprinkling Happiness, would you like a free hug?” He accepted. He moved slowly and spoke softly. He then asked me to look at the Sign across the street, the handwritten sign that read “Joy.” He said that this was brother’s name and that day was the 5th anniversary of his passing. He felt that his brother had sent him a sign.
My heart sunk and it filled with joy at the same time."
Happiness Sprinkling Magic #2.
"Fast forward to the end of the Sprinkling. Just as it was getting dark and we were wrapping up, a man approached us. He looked a bit like a tough guy. I was still holding my favorite Sign, the Free Hugs Sign and offering hugs to every passerby. When this man approached, it was no different. Until I wrapped my arms around him … and, he melted. Totally melted in my arms and started weeping. When we released, he told us that he had been watching us from across the street and that the Signs had spoken to him.
He told us that we have no idea what these Signs had meant to him and that it was a sign from God. He specifically mentioned the “everything will be allright” sign (the one with the misspelling from the early days). Later that evening, Laura received a message from him, which she forwarded to me.
The message said that he had been going through weeks of hardship and that he had hit rock bottom on that day. Seeing the Signs had made a difference.
Fast forward again to two years later.
My friend Lennon who had been Sprinkling Happiness with us that day, was at a train station in DC, waiting for his train.
The train doors opened and a man jumped off and ran towards him. It was the man who had sent us that message, two years before! He had been riding the train and noticed Lennon (he is one of those people whose looks and energy is striking and therefore unforgettable) and decided to get off the train to talk with him.
He told Lennon that he remembered him from the event two years prior.
He told him that the we had saved his life that day because he had been going through a really rough time and that he was planning to commit suicide the day that he saw us."
So there we go. No money spent, no degree needed. Just a bit of our time and then trusting that Life will partner with us in putting us at the perfect exact place at the perfect exact time. Then opening our hearts and arms.
World Kindness Day sounds like both a big, sweet call to action and a potential free pass to be kind today and flip someone off tomorrow should they cut in front of us on the freeway. Sorta like handing out warm socks to homeless people on Christmas and then waiting another 364 days to pay attention with our eyes or with our hearts.
We can do better.
Because really, there are no days when Kindness does not work. There are no days when making eye contact, sharing a smile or lending a hand is not going to be in fashion.
And as I love to remind myself and whoever is willing to listen long enough: WE ALL HAVE THE POWER TO SPRINKLE HAPPINESS - or KINDNESS.
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Essential Happiness Retreat
January 10 to 20, 2019
Guadeloupe, French Caribbean
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I write because this is the way I am able to taste life more deeply.