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  1. Traditionally, education focuses on three R’s: reading, writing, and arithmetic. But to become happy and caring individuals, those skills are not enough. Increasingly, there’s also attention to ’soft skills’, most often called social-emotional learning, or SEL.  SEL: Social-emotional Learning https://youtu.be/p_OKCDG8K-k  What is SEL? SEL is the process through which students acquire and apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to  understand and manage emotions (self-awareness) set and achieve positive goals (self-management) feel and show empathy to others (social awareness) establish and maintain positive relationships (relationship skills) make responsible decisions. What does emotional learning focus on? Self-Awareness trains the ability to focus on one's emotions, thoughts, and values, and how they influence behaviour. Also, it strengthens the capacity to assess one’s strengths and limitations, with confidence, optimism, and a ‘growth mindset’. Self-Management trains the skills to regulate emotions, thoughts, and behaviours in different situations: managing stress, controlling impulses, and motivating oneself. Social Awareness focuses on the ability to take the perspective and empathise with others. It enables the student to understand social and ethical norms. Relationships skills strengthen the students in their ability to establish and maintain healthy and rewarding relationships, to communicate clearly, listen deeply, cooperate with others, negotiate conflict, and seek and offer help. And Responsible decision making trains the capacity to make constructive choices about personal behaviour and social interactions based on ethics, safety, and social norms. How can it be used to help students to become happier and more balanced individuals? The three R’s of emotional learning that are found in SEL, are focused on emotional literacy: Regulation, Reconstruction, and Resilience.  Students learn to regulate their emotions and alter them. Reconstruction of emotions enables emotionally healthy and positive responses. And when students are capable of balancing conflicting and competing emotions, they become calmer and more resilient. The reasons to adopt SEL are the positive results:  To overcome and manage emotions like fear, hatred, anger, and anxiety. To increase academic success, in test scores, grades, and attendance. To lower stress-levels, and have more positive attitudes towards themselves, others,  and tasks. To prevent harmful behaviors like drug use, violence, and bullying. And to provide students with the skills, they will need in their future careers and lives. The skills taught through SEL help students, educators, and parents to cultivate more positive emotions. Education can be used as a tool to serve the greater good: students learn to sustain their well-being and happiness and care for themselves and others. In the shift from the traditional three R’s to the three R’s of emotional learning, students, schools, and parents, develop skills and competencies that enable them to lead more balanced, empathic, connected, and happier lives.  Written by Arlo LaibowitzArlo is a filmmaker, artist, lecturer, and intermittent practitioner of metta meditation and morning yoga. When not dreaming about impossible projects and making them happen in the most impractical ways possible, he journals, listens to jazz, or cuddles with his better half.
  2. Social Justice Benefits All You don't need to be a caped crusader to make a difference. Everyday heroes wear jeans and T-shirts; nurse's uniforms and fluorescent jackets on the roadside. Social justice is something we all can do and benefit from.  “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere… Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” -Martin Luther King Jr. In the United States, black mothers teach their sons to behave in specific, respectful ways to reduce suspicion, violence, and aggression from police officers. White mothers do not.  In parts of the world, girls do not have the same access to education as boys. Girls are married off while still children while their male counterparts are left alone to grow and mature.  All over the world, some poor people barely survive the day while there are also billionaires in the same country who can’t imagine a life without gold.  Social justice does not mean taking away privileges of one group; it means raising up those who don’t have those same privileges.  February 20 is the International Day of Social Justice. While it’s important to mark the day and spend time, effort, and perhaps money to end social injustice, the process is one that requires attention every day.  What Does Social Injustice Mean? Social injustice can manifest itself in multiple ways:  Poverty Lack of healthcare Hunger Unsafe living environments Unsafe food Dirty water Laws that target a particular group because of their identity Stricter application of the law to one group over another Social injustice keeps people from being healthy and happy. It violates the idea that all individuals have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Injustice impacts people based on their race, religion, sexuality, economic status, gender, ethnicity, and much more.  Those who denounce social justice mistakenly believe marginalized groups will receive special treatment. For these people to do it, they loose something. They don’t realize that we are all only as strong as the weakest among us.  What people need and deserve are the basics. In life, that includes the things that keep us all fed, housed, and educated while granting us equal access and treatment under the law. Once those basic needs are met, they can pursue life in a multitude of ways. Sometimes with results, none of us can imagine. Inventors, peace-keepers, religious leaders, politicians, teachers, writers, and so many others. All of whom contribute to society could rise out of the shadows of inequality and social injustice. We have no idea what we could accomplish if we grant everyone access to the same rights and basic needs.  What Does Social Justice Look Like? In a perfect world, everyone would see each other as equal and worthy regardless of their outward appearance or differing beliefs. We don’t live in that world. We live in a messy place where everyone has an opinion. Where everyone holds particular beliefs. We have to make our way through the world with choices based on those beliefs or their rejection of them.  Because of this, a strong social safety net is necessary to protect the weakest among us. This system, in whatever form it takes in governments around the world, helps grant access to healthcare and education, job training and employment. It helps reduce the economic inequalities that can hold generations of families back. By requiring a liveable minimum wage, additional educational resources for communities with the greatest need, and access to the right jobs.  Social justice means supporting communities and organizations. Support within those communities who raise up the concerns and problems of marginalized groups to make those in power aware of their need. To fight for equality and justice, and to promote the participation of individuals who may feel powerless and voiceless otherwise.  We All Benefit from Social Justice Raising up a group of people who have been ill-treated, neglected, and forgotten by society or government does not take anything away from those with greater privilege. It places us all on equal footing. It's a wishful sentiment for a throughout the world. It's much harder to live by when we compare what we have to what we think other people may receive.  Recognizing social injustice forces us to recognize our inherent biases and decide whether we will reject or embrace them. It forces us to look at what we have in relation to those with much less and realize that maybe we have too much. Admitting social injustice that we do not personally experience is a difficult, personal task but once done, allows us to better answer the question, “What will I do about it?” It gives us the chance to check our biases at the door and treat people the way we would want to be treated.  But what does social justice do for those who are the victims of injustice? The poor, the downtrodden, the discriminated? Access to the basics and the ability to pursue a life of happiness - without the guarantee, of course - allows people to move beyond their circumstances and improve it. This results in less strain on government safety nets. People can worry less about how to make it through another day with enough food and water or avoid harassment and can focus on bigger things, bolder thoughts, and new ideas.  When we allow all parts of our society to benefit equally, everyone contributes more to society as a whole whether in business, legislatively, or simply by being a better person. If you’re poor, scared, or demoralized, your world becomes very narrow. When you are free from the strain of social injustice and inequality, the horizon becomes much broader and the opportunities greater. We all benefit.  Written by Sienna Saint-CyrSienna Saint-Cyr is an author, advocate, and the founder of SinCyr Publishing. She speaks at conventions, workshops, and for private gatherings on the importance of having a healthy body image, understanding enthusiastic consent, using sexuality to promote healing, navigating diverse or non-traditional relationships, having Complex PTSD, and more. Sienna loves sharing her journey of healing and finding happiness with her readers. Along with writing erotica and romance, Sienna speaks at conventions, workshops, and for private gatherings on such sex-positive topics as a healthy body image, using sexuality to promote healing, and navigating diverse or non-traditional relationships. She writes for several websites. Find out more at https://siennasaintcyr.wordpress.com/.
  3. The School of Life: the pursuit of a better life Founded in 2008 by the well-known public philosopher and author Alain De Botton. Who, with colleagues in the arts, education and cultural fields, started this London-based global institution dedicated to the pursuit of the better life. The School provides consultations and training for businesses. This includes a range of courses and services for individuals which are aimed at helping clients with relationships, careers advice and emotional well-being.        Help comes in the form of face-to-face therapeutic treatments and classroom-based sessions. The School delivers educational material through physical books, on-line books and films, a YouTube channel and various educational tools. Many School of Life courses received accreditation from the Continuing Professional Development Certification Service. The School is a partner in the Knowledge Quarter. Which is a professional association that works towards the sharing and dissemination of ideas and knowledge.  The humane spirit of the School of Life The School of Life bases its approach in the arts and humanities. They do this by exploring history, psychology, sociology, economics, politics, ethics and philosophical concepts. Alongside treatment of the inner aspects of the human subject, the School gives orientation in external social matters. These matters include responsible consumerism and entrepreneurship. And how to engage with culture and make one's place in the modern consumer-capitalist world with all its challenges.  The courses and therapies on offer encourage a realistic attitude to the concept of happiness. They pursue this and foster a sense of hopefulness and possibility. With a humane spirit, free of dogma and jargon or any particular ideology, they present challenging ideas to the individual. This is at the centre of everything The School of Life does.  Aspects of modern living with which The School of Life can help. Improved parenting Being an understanding son or daughter Dealing with fear and anxiety Developing one's capacity for tolerance, forgiveness, appreciativeness and self-insight A more person-centred ethos in business and in the workplace Being comfortable with the acquisition of learning for its own sake, not only for passing examinations. Goals The people at The School of Life do not lack ambition. It is their purpose to become a global hub for the promulgation of better emotional health. They employ various media to reach across nations with their philosophy. Which is about personal development and the psychological well-being in personal lives and in the workplace. The School aims to grow and bring its unique approach to finding solutions for emotional pain and confusion worldwide. In their own words, they 'want to bring collective strength to the field of emotional health.'  There are School of Life branches in Berlin, Taipei, Zurich, Tel Aviv and Sydney. If none of them if close to you check out their book and their website.     Images sources: The book of life, Youtube channel Photo: Colorbox.com  Written by Guest AuthorWe are happy to publish articles by guest authors that will broaden the perspective and bring new insights. If you are interested in publishing an article here on happiness.org please contact us.