At this point, we’ve all been to school. We’ve all gone to class or had a classroom experience. By now, we’ve all learned about reading, writing and arithmetic. And most of us have gone through some kind of secondary schooling, whether this is in college, on-the-job training programs, or a class in basket weaving or we’ve all had or share of both teaching and learning experiences.
We have been taught how to find a job and how to build a resume. Or, in my case, I have been trained as an operating engineer. I have undergone safety training and learned about electrical circuitry. I’ve attended training schools for building and maintenance systems. I’ve taken CPR classes and scaffolding safety courses. But more recently, I began learning about mental health and mental health safety. I’ve taken different courses that range from life coaching to hypnosis, from mental health first aid to peer advocacy and peer specialist work, which require study as well as clinical hours for training purposes.
However, of all the classes I’ve taken and as interesting as some of my learning experiences have been; I’ve never found a class that teaches people how to be happy. I have never seen a class or found a syllabus that teaches how to be happy at work or how to be happy with life when life is not happy with us.
I see this and then I realize, “No wonder why we are a society that’s plagued with social illnesses.” There is no class that really teaches how to feel better when depression hits. There are no classes that teach the in-depth despair and powerlessness of panic or anxiety attacks. There are classes that teach what to do in case of physical emergencies and there are classes that tell us what to do in case someone is hurt. But at the same time, there are no classes that teach us how to smile or how to co-exist.
There are no classes that teach us how to be rid of insecurity or irrational fears. There’s no Happiness 101 course or Joy of Living courses in the college curriculums. There were no classes like this when we needed this most—like, say, when we were young and trying to figure out our place in the playground.
We are taught and trained from a young age about how to work and learn. There are cooking classes. There are automotive classes and computer courses. But okay—what about classes on how to organize your shelves in the kitchen? Or, is there a class that teaches how to shop in a grocery store? Or, is there a class that teaches how to pick out the best fruit in the produce section or what days to go there? I can say that there needs to be a bagging course for the line at the register. Maybe there is a class that covers all of this and perhaps I’ve not found it. Even still, there are so many lessons that we need in our life. But schools don’t teach these things. Only life does.
We learn on our own; or we learn through experience, which is not to say that we learned from the proper teachers—but don’t worry, life has a way of teaching us, even when we don’t want to learn.
We learn about loss. We learn about pain and fear and anger. We learn about the Jones’s next door and the need to keep up with them. We learn how to love and we learn how to care. I spent a long time in bad relationships and learning about what “Not” to do or who “Not” to be with.
I learned which streets not to take and where not to park my car. I’ve learned how to use my GPS and yet, still, I’ve gotten lost but wait, I digress.
There are no classes that teach us how to be comfortable in our own skin. There is no class that teaches us how to wipe away biases or get rid of old and uncomfortable memories. There is no class that teaches us how to resolve our unresolved tensions and resentments.
We have case studies. We have talk therapy. We have workshops and self-help programs but mainly, we are a society that often treats the heart attacks after they happen. We are often more reactive than proactive, in which case, we are a society of people who are trying to recover from a loss.
We know how to pay bills. We know how to utilize our technology. We can send emails. We can send texts. We can program our cell phones and set up our preferences. We can even program the timers to have lights automatically come on in our home—but yet, can we navigate through personal challenges without Wi-Fi service? Can our kids be happy without the internet? Can we be happy—and I mean can we be really happy? Are there classes that teach us how to be true to ourselves? Or is there a class that teaches us how to move beyond our personal limitations?
I have had the opportunity to work with different people in my life. I have worked with the wealthy and homeless. I’ve worked with people who had it all and people who had nothing, and yet, the common denominator is there are no classes that teach us about self or self-awareness. And be advised, rich or poor, happiness can be equally evasive.
There are no classes that teach us that we are all perfectly and individually unique, that we are enough or that we have everything we need to be personally successful. There are no classes that teach us how to nurture our talents instead of making the unfair comparison to other people and their abilities. Nobody teaches this, yet, we are a society that is riddled with mental health challenges and disorders.
Look at the amount of deaths that are due to alcohol or drugs. Look at the amount of people who die from the results of cigarette smoking. Or, wait, what about the amount of deaths caused by obesity? How many people die as a result of this? How is it that worldwide, we lose someone to suicide every 40 seconds (according to the WHO) and yet, with all of these self-imposed but avoidable death sentences, no one has ever come up with a class that teaches us how to be happy and comfortable with ourselves?
We need classes on this. We need classes that teach us about acceptance. We need classes that teach how to be happy. I could use a course on how to use my smoker to make ribs. I’d like to attend a class that teaches how to have our imagination grow and have our reality improve. I’d be interested in a class to teach me how to sail in a sailboat.
I’d like a class on improving dreams. This would all be covered in a course that I’d call, The Best Life-101, which if you ask me, I think this should be a prerequisite.
I say this is more important than any of the vaccines we take—in fact, I say classes like this are a vaccine. The others are shots for physical vaccinations but this one; this is our shot to stay happy.
Know what I mean?