I grew up reading comic books. The visual learner in me shied away from real books and clung to the pictures and onomatopoeias found in my comic books like "BAM!" "POW!" "KABOOM!" You can imagine my delight when many of my childhood favs were turned into onscreen movies: Batman, Spiderman, Ironman, and finally Wonder Woman.
Last week, I had the wonderful opportunity to bring The Happiness Workshop to Chadwick International School here in Korea. I got to work with 10th graders. I know what you're thinking: Teenagers! Run! And I was actually thinking the same, but then I thought that I should channel my own inner super hero and do what makes me a little bit afraid.
The weather was perfect for one of my communication activities where we have to run around in teams. As I jumped up and down in my own excitement, I saw students running around, cheering each other on, and attempting to communicate with each other.
"See, this is how it should be. This is what learning is all about," my collaborator at Chadwick told me later over lunch. As I chomped on my boiled pork ("Bossam" in Korean), I couldn't help but agree with her. We went on to talk about how in Korea there is so much pressure on students to perform that they are basically raised to only get grades. It doesn't matter if they get a C+ in character development, as long as they get As in the classroom, they'll get into a prestigious university, and eventually work for a prestigious company. The end.
"I could stand here and tell you about all of my successes. How I went to Harvard, how I was a professor at Yonsei, how I am a former TED speaker, but today I will talk about my depression instead." And that is how I began this Happiness Workshop for these 10th graders. The looks on their faces--priceless. Perhaps I had shocked them? Perhaps it was what they needed to hear? BAM! POW! KABOOM!
Then I showed them a card I had written and put in my time capsule when I was a senior in high school (just two years older than they are now). "Being True to Myself." It was a value card I had been asked to write in my Freshman Seminar class. And now, this is how I define my own Happiness. Ok, so I was a little shocked to find out that these kids weren't even born yet when I was a senior in high school. Whoa.
So here's the thing: when I was younger I thought super heroes were so awesome because they could leap over tall buildings, they could climb up tall buildings in seconds, they could capture bad guys and evil villains. However, as an adult, what I have learned (the hard way mostly), and what I will continue to teach in my workshops, is that perhaps the bravest thing of all is to be true to yourself. Imagine a world full of these new kinds of super heroes who were not trying to be something they weren't. Instead of conquering bad guys, they were conquering their own inner demons. Honestly, I think the world would be a kinder, more compassionate place. Don't you?
Oh, check out this #HappyChadwick video created by our own super heroes in training: https://vimeo.com/220265466
*This blog post is dedicated to all of the parents out there who are raising this new breed of super heroes on a day-to-day basis!*