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Published: June 15, 2020

5 Ways to Teach Happiness in an Online Learning Environment

As both mental health advocates and people who strongly believes that this world needs more personal happiness, we at IVLA have been intrigued by the effect, if any, that happiness has on student achievement. After spending some time in research, we've learned that there is indeed a correlation between happiness and increased student learning.

Wisdom From a Renowned "Happiness Guru"

Shawn Achor is a renowned happiness guru who created the Orange Frog program to teach his philosophy of happiness to students. Mr. Achor believes that happiness and a positive attitude promote:

  • A healthier and more engaging learning environment
  • Enhanced student development
  • Greater student success

The Orange Program is a comprehensive effort to promote happiness at all levels of the student experience. The program involves participation from parents, teachers, school administrators, and even custodians and bus drivers. The goal is to create a happier environment by reinforcing positive habits.

According to an article by David Levine on the U.S New & World Report website, the Orange Program was implemented in Schaumburg, Illinois by the Schaumburg Township Elementary District 54. Within three (3) years of its implementation, District 54 went from the 73rd percentile of academic achievement in Illinois to the 95th percentile. The results were so impressive that District 54 superintendent Andrew DuRoss stated, “I think it has turned out to be best decision I have made as superintendent of schools”.

happiness and academic achievementTeaching Happiness

The concept of “teaching happiness” has been the subject of significant debate by everyone involved in the education process. There are some who believe that it is a legitimate and effective practice, and there are others who aren’t quite so believing. With or without any supporting research/data, our belief is that it is a concept worth implementing. If any educational technique/concept/practice has the potential to positively affect a student, then we fully support its implementation and use.

Teaching happiness is based on simple concepts such as:

  1. Smiling
    A simple smile can promote a more positive and relaxing student environment. This is considered such a powerful, and simple, technique that experts encourage “fake” smiling if necessary.
  2. Positivity
    Getting not just students but people in general to acknowledge and appreciate what is good in their lives is essential. Creating a “happiness journal” whereby you write down the good in your life is a great way to reinforce the concept of positivity.
  3. Social and Emotional Learning (SEL)
    This is a technique focused on educating students as to what makes them happy. The goal is to create more awareness and empowerment within the student by focusing on core concepts such as compassion, courage, appreciation, and forgiveness.
  4. Exercise
    Getting active and moving our bodies increases happiness. By incorporating basic exercise activities into the student’s educational program, both the physical and mental well-being of the student will be improved.
  5. Music
    Cranking up some vibrant music is another simple technique that has proven to have a positive impact on students. Not only can playing music promote a more relaxing and positive atmosphere, its also been shown to decrease blood pressure and lower anxiety.

Happiness, positivity, and overall good mental health have been proven to enhance a student’s educational performance, while depression and negativity significantly decrease it. Given this correlation, we believe common sense dictates that any and all techniques and practices predicated on improving happiness and overall mental health should be integrated into every student’s educational program.


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