“Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” ~ Aristotle
Bring Smilinggg to Your School
Here at Smilinggg we understand that habits are formed through repeated action. The more frequently we perform actions, the quicker they crystallise into habits, especially during those very important formative years of youth.
So what happens if we practice key virtues scientifically linked to promote happiness in mind and health in body on a daily basis and most importantly from a young age?
“Good habits formed at youth make all the difference.” ~ Aristotle
What if we took fifteen minutes out of each day to walk, jog or run one mile within school grounds. During of which we actively reflect on what in our lives we are grateful for, whilst generously smiling and acknowledging our fellow classmates. What potential growth could result from this for both student and school?
The best way to answer this is to simply trial The Smilinggg Mile at your school. In the meantime, we have shortlisted just a few of the benefits below.
Smilinggg Mile Benefits: For Body
In 2015/16, over 1 in 5 children in Reception, and over 1 in 3 children in Year 6 were measured as obese or overweight. ~ NHS Digital
We go into depth breaking down The Smilinggg Mile here. However, we wanted to give a brief overview of how such a simple daily practice can reap rewards for the children, and not only in the present moment, but also cultivate key life skills that can help serve them for their entire lives.
- Children develop stronger muscles and bones
- Children are more likely to regulate their weight inline with recommended guidelines
- Children will have a greater understanding of what constitutes a heathy body and mind
- Children will improve their cardiovascular health; namely, decrease risk of developing type 2 diabetes, improve the efficiency of their heart, lower blood pressure and strengthen their lungs
- Children have a better outlook on life whilst developing crucial life skills: self confidence, self-esteem and social skills
- New research suggests childhood exercise has a protective effect on health in later years, as well as improving brain power – even in inactive grownups (read more)
The benefits above are all crucial on largely a physical level, but what about the Smilinggg mile and its benefits on the mental side of our wellbeing. Whilst we are well aware that exercise indirectly supports better mind function (increased levels of neurotransmitters such as dopamine/serotonin) what about the direct benefits of cultivating an attitude of gratitude and forming bonds through generously smiling? Here is where The Smilinggg Mile is truly in a class (excuse the pun) of its own.
Smilinggg Mile Benefits: For Mind
10% of children and young people (aged 5-16 years) have a clinically diagnosable mental health problem, yet 70% of children and adolescents who experience mental health problems have not had appropriate interventions at a sufficiently early age. ~ Mental Health Foundation
- Children improve their psychological health. Expressing gratitude has been shown to reduce a number of toxic emotions, ranging from envy and resentment to frustration and regret
- Children cultivate empathy and reduce aggression. A 2012 study found grateful people are more likely to behave in a prosocial manner, even when others behave less kind
- Children can improve their self-esteem with studies showing gratitude reduces social comparisons and the ability to appreciate other peoples accomplishments
- Gratitude increases mental strength and resilience in addition to reducing stress and angst
Grateful teens are happier, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association this year. Researchers also found that teens who are grateful — in the study, defined as having a positive outlook on life — are more well-behaved at school and more hopeful than their less-grateful peers. “More gratitude may be precisely what our society needs to raise a generation that is ready to make a difference in the world,” study researcher Giacomo Bono, Ph.D., a psychology professor at California State University, said in a statement.
Grateful high-schoolers have higher GPAs — as well as better social integration and satisfaction with life — than their not-grateful counterparts, according to a 2010 study in the Journal of Happiness Studies. Researchers also found that grateful teens were less depressed or envious. “When combined with previous research, a clearer picture is beginning to emerge about the benefits of gratitude in adolescents, and thus an important gap in the literature on gratitude and well-being is beginning to be filled,” researchers wrote. ~ Huffington Post
5. Here are many more science backed benefits that can occur through a formal gratitude practice such as The Smilinggg Mile... You can learn more about each one by clicking here.
• Stronger immune systems
• Less bothered by aches and pains
• Lower blood pressure
• Exercise more and take better care of their health
• Sleep longer and feel more refreshed upon waking
• Higher levels of positive emotions
• More alert, alive, and awake
• More joy and pleasure
• More optimism and happiness
• More helpful, generous, and compassionate
• More forgiving
• More outgoing
• Feel less lonely and isolated
Schools of Smilers
"Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing." ~ Mother Teresa.
Smile often. Behaviour change expert Dr Mark Stibich says smiling brings many health benefits as it boosts the immune system, enhances mood and helps to build confidence. We've noticed smiling also helps cultivate courage and builds the altruistic and generosity muscles. How often do you witness people avoiding eye contact when passing in the street? Smiling at strangers for many is harder than it should be. The Smilinggg Mile helps to break down barriers and enrich both the smiler and the recipient in a formal setting. It's so simple, yet so often overlooked.
Researchers from Pennsylvania State University and Duke University tracked more than 700 children from across the US between kindergarten and age 25 and found a significant correlation between their social skills as kindergartners and their success as adults two decades later.The 20-year study showed that socially competent children who could cooperate with their peers without prompting, be helpful to others, understand their feelings, and resolve problems on their own, were far more likely to earn a college degree and have a full-time job by age 25 than those with limited social skills.
Those with limited social skills also had a higher chance of getting arrested, binge drinking, and applying for public housing. ~ Business Insider, 2016
Growth in Mind and Body
Knowledge is a wonderful thing. Applying knowledge and experiencing the benefits becomes wisdom. We want to allow children to have the tools at their disposal to think and feel for themselves. By following a consistent Smilinggg Daily Practice, this knowledge and understanding of the benefits will translate into lived experience. We feel this is vitally important for children of all ages to fully understand a key teaching principle of personal development and in particular living with not only full understanding of the growth mindset, but realising it through personal experience of both physical and mental improvement across key health and happiness markers.
Where kids think success comes from also predicts their attainment. Over decades, Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck has discovered that children (and adults) think about success in one of two ways.
A "fixed mindset" assumes that our character, intelligence, and creative ability are static givens that we can't change in any meaningful way, and success is the affirmation of that inherent intelligence, an assessment of how those givens measure up against an equally fixed standard; striving for success and avoiding failure at all costs become a way of maintaining the sense of being smart or skilled.
A "growth mindset," on the other hand, thrives on challenge and sees failure not as evidence of un-intelligence but as a heartening springboard for growth and for stretching our existing abilities. At the core is a distinction in the way you assume your will affects your ability, and it has a powerful effect on kids. If kids are told that they aced a test because of their innate intelligence, that creates a "fixed" mindset. If they succeeded because of effort, that teaches a "growth" mindset. ~ Business Insider, 2016
Prevention is better than cure
Prevention is at the heart of what we do, because the best way to deal with a crisis is to prevent it from happening in the first place. For example, by providing the right information, guidance and support in childhood and adolescence, the chances of developing mental health problems can be reduced for millions of people over a lifetime, with enormous benefits to the individuals directly affected, along with their families, friends and the communities they live in. ~ Mental Health Foundation
The Smilinggg Daily Mile isn't a magic pill, and we don't claim it can eliminate mental illness. What we do know is the positive effect it's had on both mind and body of those who have embraced it and applied it to their daily lives. No more so than James Cooper who founded this healthy, happy and positive protocol.
We believe the health of our minds matters most. Just like our physical health, where we understand the foods we consume and the amount of movement we perform has a direct bearing on our bodies and their functioning. The same can be said for our mental health, and the thoughts we think and the words and actions we say and do have a direct bearing on our minds and their functioning.
James Cooper was 28 when he gave as much attention to his mind as he had previously given to his body. His biggest hope is that the next generation and beyond are given simple tools such as The Smilinggg Mile 20+ years sooner. Learning to directly train the mind to help better cope with life.
Whether you're a member of staff at a school, a parent, or anyone with any connection to a school or a schooling body, and this sounds like something you would like to see implemented please pop us a message below.
James hopes to support any implementation personally, and is on hand to meet at short notice. Please note, this is a free initiative as part of The Smilinggg Project
Thank you for taking the time to learn more about our Smilinggg Schools vision.