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Henry County High School in Kentucky is one of our 2019 Official Happiness Schools sponsored by LG. Our passionate educator Adam Tehle joins us for an interview with Randy Taran for our Taking the Stress Out of Education series.  


Adam, an English teacher addressing the skyrocketing rates of depression and anxiety in teens, implemented the Project Happiness Curriculum for his junior English classes over the course of six weeks. He says that while kids sometimes may seem outwardly apathetic, deep down they want to “contribute in a really deep way.” He created a safe space and taught them that they are in control of their own happiness despite the overwhelming environmental pressure to succeed.

 

The following are anonymous letters from Adam's class:

Impact of Project Happiness

The past weeks with Project Happiness have taught me a great deal. Not only did it teach me new things, but it also helped me accept things I personally already knew to be true. I've learned that too often people base their moods on others. They allow what a person says or does to change their whole attitude. People also tend to rely too heavily on others for happiness. You shouldn't rely on someone else to make you happy. Because only you and your actions can make you truly happy. At the end of the day, your happiness should come from the choices you make and the path you choose to follow in life. Now that doesn't mean you don't rely on other people. Of course, you should rely on people but you should also have an amount of independence when it comes to your emotions. It starts with you not allowing yourself to be your own obstacle. Stop focusing solely on the bad things and use those things to shape you into a better person. Stop living in such seriousness and allow yourself to smile. One of my favorite quotes that I choose to live my life by is, “Don't take life so seriously, it's not like you're gonna get out alive.” It's okay to smile and it's okay to have bad days as well. But don't let what you're feeling determine the whole tide of your life. Life is so much more than endless suffering, so go out and make something of it

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During these weeks I've learned that no matter what you're going through things always get better, There's always a way to get things out of your head. You can go for walks and relax or go out with friends. Throughout Project Happiness, I've learned how to be a better person and think about what others more often, but I've also learned you have to take care of yourself.

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Project Happiness Curriculum

This has impacted me by allowing me not to be angry all the time. I used to be angry at everything because of everything that was on my plate. When we started working on Project Happiness I realize that we can tell what's going on in my life but if we are Anonymous no one will know. This made me feel so much better because I did not have to carry that much on my shoulder to be happy. Every day I would yell my mom because I just had so much going on. I did not want to hear about her health problems. Now I realize that I need to listen or else it will be too late.

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Happiness is something we all want in life. Sometimes it's hard to find happiness, even though true happiness is within yourself. I have learned that for me to be happy I must start building myself into the person I long to be. Using all the tools we've learned about. It's not going to be easy and I honestly couldn't tell you how long it will take for me to wake up and truly say I am happy. But I do know for sure by doing little things every day like forgive, love, smile, express myself, do more of things I like and just start being a better me. I will get there. I have enough will in me and good people surrounding me I know I see happiness in my future.

I feel more open to others I listen to others and try to show I'm interested in what they're saying. This taught me not to take others for granted, for example, every time I talk to my mom I tried to get off the phone after like 5 minutes because she was talking so much, but now I listen to her as long as possible because one day I won't have her to talk to. Learning this helped me see the bigger things in life when I was sad and also made me think more about my feelings and let me talk about things I really never talked about. Thanks for teaching me this so I can become a better person.

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Before I started this journey, I never really thought anyone else's opinions mattered. I only thought about me and what my issues were. Now after this journey, I know I am not the only one who matters. Others have similar feelings and issues. I need to keep others opinions and issues in mind not just my own.

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I've been told I have the attributes of the leader, so I suppose I can contribute but when others indirection different than the dark one through logic, empathy, and compromise. Over the last six weeks, I've learned plenty about what is around me. I've learned how to better spot other's moods, I learned how to examine situations before they go any further and I've learned how to look on myself with accurate criticism. All in all, be it in my sub-conscience or at the Forefront of my brain, it will always stay with me throughout life.

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In the past few months really I've felt a whirlwind of emotions as we approach graduation. I find myself frustrated and nervous as I complete my finals, relieved that my classes are ending and petrified to the reality that every routine I've been used to is coming to an end and I'm starting my life. The pressure is high as I make huge decisions that plan for the rest of my life. I'm excited so it's really bittersweet and I'm trying to enjoy it while I can.

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What I learned over the past few weeks is that the only way to be happy is to open up and show people you care. Do this journey I was taught that your happiness gives other people happiness. Also that believing and looking at all the good things in life will help so much more. All this shows that there are more ways to make yourself happy and show the best out of all of it.

 

Forgiveness

I'm holding on to forgiving my real mother and that family. I was adopted when I was two months old, there have been times where she has tried to get ahold of me through siblings I go to school with. Really upsets me is almost all my siblings that I know are still in that family. Don't get me wrong, I'm more than happy where I am now, but I just wonder what was wrong with me why I couldn't stay. Not long ago, my biological mother posted me on her Facebook and I wondered to myself why would she care now and not back then? Eventually, forgive her but not anytime soon.

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I think forgiveness is important in the world because everyone makes mistakes on accident and deserves another chance. A way I could contribute to this is by helping someone understand the situation and help them realize what the other person is feeling. Sometimes we forget to be happy, especially when we're sad. I like it older I realize more and more about how I should have treated others. Project Happiness helps me see and learn all aspects of happiness in different ways. I may not always be happy but I always try to do the best about treating my peers with a positive mindset. My goal is to find more happiness Within Myself and remind myself more of what I need to be grateful for. Such as my friendships, parents, and the things I have in life.

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I felt hurt when my parents split up. My expectations of them were that they should be like normal parents. I kept wondering why we couldn't just be like a normal family. When it happened it was a long process and it felt like forever. I didn't understand it then because I would just get mad at them for it. But when I thought about it, it makes more sense after the fact. Instead of thinking about it like they just divorced because they wanted to, I realize I need to see that it was better off this way. I had these expectations of my parents, but they should stay together because of married. But I realized I my expectations were unreasonable when it comes to my mom and dad. And I can forgive them because I understand why they divorced and that they are happier now.

 Emotional Advantage

What Makes You Feel Alive?

Something that makes me feel “alive” is by being kind. I feel good when I'm nice to others. When I make someone's day, it makes my day. Things I can do is give people compliments, say hi, or even a simple smile or wave. One thing I have taken away from this unit is to not beat myself up when I'm stressed, have an open mind, and I think these past six weeks has made me want to volunteer more animal shelters, food drives, etc. It has made me open my eyes and be more grateful for the things in my life.

I feel that I am humorous and have a positive attitude. These things make me feel alive because it makes my life complete and happy when I make people laugh when I laugh at someone. These make me feel alive because it makes my life positive and fun. I can spread positivity through the community. In this class, we've learned what type of people there are, and how we learn. Also, we've learned how things around this can affect us in our happiness we've talked about tools to you used to deal with life and struggles and how to conquer them. This class has taught me a lot about myself.

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The thing that makes me feel the most alive is whenever I get time to myself. Not everyday is an easy day and when I am actually capable of doing something for myself it makes me feel a lot better, or even getting some time with my best friend. I feel like this time is often taken for granted. 

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Sports is my gift because when I am on the court or the field, I let go of all of my problems and I feel alive. I am able to clear my head. Being on the court or on the field I can be myself. Sports is my way to get out of my head. When I play, I don't worry about anything but the game.

 

What Do You Value?

I value honor and social intelligence/relations. I strive to be as honest as I can and improve the way I interact with people. My relationships are important to me and I believe it is one of the most important things in life.

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Having honesty is very meaningful to me because I’ve had a lot of close people lie and carrying nothing but empty promises. Because of this, it has caused me to be cautious with who I talk to and the topic I talk about. Critical thinking is also meaningful because when in these situations I have to really contemplate what to do.

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Some of the things I think are meaningful would have to be leadership, hope, and teamwork. I feel like if you have a good leader you will always have hope in everything you do. One person can’t win a game, you need a team. So that’s why I chose leadership, hope, and teamwork.

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In my life, most people are connected. For one of the first times, I feel like my friend group he's really positive. I think we're all sympathetic toward each other, but not too much. Are able, to be honest about our feelings. My family is connected as well. We're all really close. On the other hand, my relationship with my mom isn't the greatest. They're always be underlined problems with that. I never said I do surround myself with sympathetic people. As an emotional person, I feel like it's important to have people who care how I'm feeling.

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Capacity to love and be loved, honesty, hope, courage, teamwork, and leadership are all meaningful to me. I see the love and tot be loved is Meaningful because sometimes it is hard to find someone that will love you just as much as you do them so you have to try even if you get hurt sometimes if you want love, you going to have to go through the pain. Honesty is important because to me it shows you who your character is, Hope is important to me because you have to always have faith in everything you do. Teamwork and Leadership are very meaningful because in the workplace you have to work together to get the job done. Being a leader is a big deal because it reflects on who you are and how people see you.

 

 

Project Happiness