GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Woodlands Middle School students were introduced to the “Art of Happiness” last Friday, when their school leaders helped students pursue happiness, strive to achieve balance in their lives and how to unplug from a fast-paced world.
The day also featured teamwork activities and an emotional keynote speech from Michael Fowlin, a psychologist and actor. Fowling admitted that his hobbies in middle school were "shoplifting, burning down parks, and blowing things up" and described teens as "goldfish with short memory spans,." but noted that moths have a lifespan of 24 hours and spend that time "wanting to get closer to the light."
"You need to spend your life trying to get closer to the light," he said. “We’re capable of transforming the world for the good, but this work starts from within; it is the process of turning our hurt into self- reflection, healing, and then action.”
The Art of Happiness was organized by a steering committee that included Principal Robin Schamberg and library media specialist Joy Alter, who noted that mindfulness and happiness are "no longer fluff, but now a science."
"We're helping our students to focus, to be more mindful of their actions, and to learn life skills that often get buried by our rushed lives, our addiction to devices, and other distractions," said Alter."This is an experiment in teaching happiness, and we hope it works."
The Middle School day began with a healthy eating session in the school cafeteria, followed by Fowlin's address. Students had the rest of the day to choose from an array of out-of-the-classroom sessions to attend, including making artwork, participating in dance, gardening and exploring the outdoors.