After the Extraordinary, Awe in the Ordinary

Submitted By:
Elizabeth Morley, Dr. Eric Jackman Lab School, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario

The Harvard University Human Flourishing Program began looking at the qualities and characteristics of well-being long before Covid-19 changed the emotional, physical, and social ground we stand on. But its research findings could not be more meaningful to this particular moment when hope is beginning to surface for some, and the need for the stabilizing forces of wellness is at peak for most. This New York Times article brings a timely and meaningful glimpse of what the Human Flourishing Program has identified as contributors to wellness found across large populations, in diverse circumstances, and with and without stable external resources. The data pointed to the benefits of “savoring and celebrating” as vital to reinforcing personal agency over daily life. Taking time to observe and collect tiny victories and small moments can make outsize differences to mental health and robust readiness for post-pandemic life. A gratitude ritual, a “five-minute favor,” awe in the ordinary, intentionally deepening social connections – these and other simple suggestions, freely available to all, help to re-establish the frameworks for social connection and positive mindset many depended on pre-lockdown. With the end of the school year in view, school leaders have opportunities to consider what it might take to celebrate a most challenging year, and to then create the environments in the familiar contexts of their own homes and schools so that flourishing might take hold. And as summer opens, the question, “What do I want to do with my time?” may have answers that can be supported and realized in new, purposeful, and long-lasting ways.

Social-Emotional Learning
Psychology & Human Development