“When I was five years-old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down 'happy'. They told me I didn't understand the assignment, and I told them they didn't understand life.” – John Lennon
I love this quote, and was recently reminded of it when watching this incredibly inspiring TEDx talk from young Logan LaPlante. Like five-year-old John, 13-year-old Logan realised the importance of seeking health and happiness early in life – something too many people discover too late.
As Logan explains, kids are always asked: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Adults expect grandiose aspirations: “I want to be a writer, a doctor, the Prime Minister” – but what they should expect is the simple yet profound answer: “When I grow up I want to be happy.”
There’s a huge difference between doing and being, however education often fails to identify this. Dr Roger Walsh succinctly pointed it out when he said: “Much of education is orientated towards making a living, rather than making a life.”
Kids are told: go to school, go to college, get a job, get married, and then you’ll be happy – but Logan asks an important question: “What if we based education on the study and practice of being happy and healthy?” What if we reversed the formula… or better still forgot all the formulas? What if being came first, and doing came second? As I wrote recently, remember the to-do list, but don’t forget the to-be list.
Creativity and vitality springs from youth – and they’re beautiful things to experience. How can we best bolster this positively to affect the wider population? By placing health and happiness atop the list of must-have skills – like maths, oracy and literacy. By doing this we will not only create a happier and healthier workforce, but also cultivate more inspired leaders and innovators. We need to make being happy, healthy and creative priorities in our schools, and the rest will follow.
Following Dr Roger Walsh’s “Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes”, Logan describes being happy and healthy as a simple practice – a science that comes down to eight things: exercise, diet and nutrition, time in nature, contribution and service to others, relationships, recreation, relaxation and stress management, and religious and spiritual involvement.
How you approach these aspects is entirely up to you.
Logan explains that we should all hack into ‘the norm’ to create our own happiness: “Hackers are innovators. Hackers are people who challenge and change the systems to make them work differently; to make them work better… having the hacker mindset can change the world.”
“If everyone skied this mountain like most people think of education, than everyone would be skiing the same line – probably the safest, and most of the powder would go untouched. I look at this and see a thousand opportunities. Dropping the cornice, shredding the spine, looking for a tranny from cliff to cliff. Skiing to me is freedom, and so is my education. It’s about being creative, doing things differently. It’s about community and helping each other. It’s about being happy and healthy among my very best friends.”
Happiness and good health encourages great life decisions. If you know what you want to be, then working out what you’re going to do will come a lot easier and prove a lot more fulfilling.