Illustration by Sadie Winkelstein
School curriculum in New Delhi, India has changed. Students are now enrolled in happiness classes, which involve meditation, studying inspirational stories, and numerous other activities. These classes were formed to provide relief for these students in their very competitive school system and to offer a way to stay in touch with their happiness and self-worth.
In the environment high schoolers experience today, it is expected that we take part in multiple extracurricular activities, have amazing grades, and get incredibly high test scores in order to be put our best foot forward for college applications. Amidst all this pressure, half an hour of focusing on our happiness could be extremely beneficial to students’ mental and emotional health. Many students experience stress during the year, whether it be in or outside of school.
Unhappiness affects our productivity and how we get our work done. It also affects how we feel about ourselves. In the happiness classes in India, they take time to practice self love which helps students focus on their work instead of being preoccupied with their doubts or insecurities. Happiness classes could remind us how important it is to take some time for ourselves amongst all the homework, college applications, sports, and other things that consume our energy and our time.
In India, happiness class is 35 minutes per day. Compared to the amount of time we spend not focusing on our mental health, 35 minutes is nothing. Main concerns of teachers might be how to fit in this class and if it’s beneficial enough to take away valuable class time. If happiness classes do relieve the stress of high schoolers, they are important enough to incorporate during the day.
It might seem impossible to include happiness classes into our everyday schedule. However, we could have these classes once a week and only shorten each period by about six minutes. This would allow students to have some time after a busy week to reflect on what it is that is making them unhappy or happy, and allow us to plan ahead and mentally prepare for the next week.
Ultimately, this could eliminate stress and train us in these methods for the future, which is bound to come with stress.
Some students already practice enlightening activities in their classrooms, such as mindfulness. However, these activities are usually on a minuscule scale compared to a happiness class. A mindful minute might calm any tensions at that moment, yet shortly after finishing, students’ thoughts are once again consumed by stress. It would be helpful to learn ways to cope with stress and unhappiness long term. Classes that teach us how to care for ourselves need to be part of education because they teach students how to take care of themselves in their adult lives.
Making happiness classes an official part of Berkeley High School’s curriculum would be a big leap, but it is worth a try to make our environment and high school culture more enjoyable.