I inadvertently learned a new word today. I was following the array of posts and articles on happiness and gratitude. Long ago, my husband noted that he had never met anyone who worked so hard at being happy. It was a hard-fought learning from my childhood that has become as natural as breathing, albeit sometimes breathing with a harsh chest cold. The morning reading included yet another article on how the Danish have a long standing record as being the happiest people in the world. Hence the new word – hygge (hue-gah).
The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living by Meik Wiking, CEO of The Happiness Research Institute, is one of the bibles of this Danish word. Yet, another internet discovery. I was taken through a you tube walk through the homes of both a self acclaimed 100% Danish expert returning from a hard day at work and Scottish Diane in Denmark who is married into the expertise. Apparently life’s simple pleasures really are the best. Wiking lists 10 things that can be found in the typical Danish home to create the comfy, cozy context to induce this relaxed sense of security and contentment. It includes everything from candles (or a fireplace), lamps, blankets, books, hot beverages, to wood furniture, comfy clothes and thick, wooly socks. Apparently I am well on my way to developing my own hygge expertise. I am certainly committed to doing the research.
“Fostering self-regulation and emotional control” have become as much a part of instruction as reading and writing. Kids that are not able to understand and manage their emotions are not able to learn and frequently make it difficult for others to learn. Before this book was published, I used the graphic of a stop light to teach kids about how to define and consider their feelings and discuss strategies to keep from getting overwhelmed and making choices that created a whole new layer of problems for the classroom community. The Zones of Regulation: A Curriculum Designed To Foster Self-Regulation and Emotional Control (2011) by Leah M. Kuypers develops a solid approach to exploring these topics in a far more comprehensive way. Adding a blue zone to talk about when you are sad or sick or tired or bored or moving slowly helps kids to understand their feelings with far more depth. I was introduced to this book by a behaviour intervention support worker and have it reintroduced by ever other STIBS worker who I have crossed paths with in Vancouver. It is generally proposed for use with a student struggling to manage their behaviour in the classroom and readily embraced by classroom teachers for use with the whole class. The support poster is pricey at $12.00 but worth it because you can use dry erase markers and help students create personalized toolkits to manage the emotions listed in the four zones. The reproducibles included in the book are well thought out and included on a CD. I have just bought another copy of this book for my current staff because it has been wholeheartedly embraced by two of my teachers. It isn’t a book to borrow, it’s a book to have on hand for your own reference.