My View                                                    Page 14-15 


Letting Happiness Find Me  



I’ve been thinking about happiness lately. My questions abound.

What is it? How do you find it? How do you keep it? As a superintendent in his sixth year, finding happiness and keeping happiness seem harder than ever.

Budgets. The never-ending battle, at least in Michigan, over the Common Core. Defending public education from those who insist we are a “failed enterprise.” Poor behavioral choices students make. Poor choices staff make. State accountability report cards. Adequate yearly progress. Balanced assessment. Union negotiations. Health care.

Happiness, at times, seems elusive in this role — or maybe it resides very far away.

Books Galore
I don’t have all the answers to what happiness means, how to find it and how to keep it, but I do know I want to be happy both professionally and personally.

Plenty of books have been written about happiness. A simple search on Amazon turns ups hundreds of titles that could help me find “true happiness” or the “happiness advantage,” or master the “art of happiness” or the “rules of happiness.”

The web offers resources, as well. There are quotable quotes about happiness and TED talks about happiness and definitions of happiness and, even, something called The Happiness Project.

I’ve read and I’ve searched to discover things about happiness, but, more importantly, I’ve thought about happiness. Here’s what I think I now know.

  • Happiness comes not from accumulating things but from developing relationships.
  • Happiness comes not from being somebody but from helping someone else up.
  • Happiness is not an end in itself but a result of being involved in something meaningful beyond yourself.
  • Happiness does not mean you do not hurt or grieve or suffer.
  • Happiness comes because you care about making the world a better place.

Service Matters
Superintendents are supposed to be focused on outcomes and test results and curricula and budgets. And, indeed, I do focus on those. I recognize they are important. And while they can bring me happiness, they are not the primary cause of the happiness in my life.

Surprisingly and pleasantly, I’ve discovered that happiness searches for me. Happiness does not necessarily come when I am looking for it. Instead, happiness finds me when I focus on serving my family, my school district, my students, my staff and my community.

What I need to do is pay attention and let happiness find me.

Steve Matthews is superintendent of the Novi Community School District in Novi, Mich. E-mail: smatthews@novi.k12.mi.us. He blogs at http://novisuperintendent.blogspot.com.


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