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Learn happiness as a skill; acquire it

China Daily | Updated: 2017-06-07 07:21

Happiness is often categorized as an emotion that comes and goes, sometimes out of one's control.

But to educators and researchers, being happy is a skill type. Young people can learn it, acquire it and benefit from it.

"Therefore, we came up with the notion of 'happiness education'," Tian Huisheng, president, National Institute of Education Sciences, said during his keynote speech at the International Conference on Happiness Education and Seminar on Positive Mental Health Education, held in Beijing over May 21-23.

"We hope that young people can learn to find happiness and bring out happiness in others, and enjoy a happy life," he added.

More than 40 researchers and experts from across the world shared their findings and suggestions on the issue of cultivating happiness among the youth.

Nadia Lovett, a professor from the University of Adelaide in Australia, advocated the PERMA model at the seminar. The model developed by US psychologist Marin Seligman, stands for five things: P for positive emotions, E for engagement, R for positive relationships, M for meaning and A for accomplishment.

"On top of genetic influence, 40 percent of your happiness depends on your choices," Lovett said. "This includes your daily habits, how you choose to think about life, and stuff you do in your free time."

This idea was backed by Wu Yinghui, director of the Institute of Education Sciences of Haidian District.

Since 2009, educators in Beijing's Haidian area have been carrying out "positive" mental health education.

"Happiness requires education," Wu said, adding that her team managed to use anticipation and encouragement to help students cultivate positive thoughts. Haidian is home to some of China's best universities.

The seminar's main agenda was to announce the launch of the International Happiness Education Consortium, which will be led by the National Institute of Education Sciences, and will be open to educators from across the world, according to Meng Wanjin, chairman of the new consortium.

Zhu Dongbin from the Department of Basic Education, Ministry of Education, and Bai Xuejun, director of the Chinese Psychological Society, addressed the seminar. Scholars from Yale University, Peking University and Tsinghua University were also invited.

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