BEING HAPPY: Teaching Happiness


[semester equivalent = 4.00 credits]



Charity Staudenraus



All the learning in the world isn’t worth much if we’re not happy. If we want the youth in our care to be happy and to be successful and motivated we as teachers and parents need to ensure they have the skills and knowledge necessary to create happy lives for themselves. In this course for educators K-12 we will learn from brain research how to positively and authentically effect our state of mind. Happiness skills can be taught, such as how to shift perspective about difficult situations, through selected reading and class discussions. Through a conscious choice of attitudes, beliefs, intentions, personal philosophy, precepts and daily practices you will discover happiness is under your control and how to model that for students. Our highly recommended text, Modeling Happiness: A Guide for Teachers and Parents, is about $15 used on Amazon or free on Kindle.

This course is designed to be completed individually or as a group collaboration project.

This course is applicable for any K-12 teacher, administrator, or anyone looking to better their ability to embody happiness.



LEARNING OUTCOMES: Upon completion of this course, participants will have:

Upon completion of this course, participants will have:

  • A concrete understanding regarding how the brain contributes to ones perceived happiness.
  • A clear picture as to how happiness impacts health and social wellbeing.
  • An understanding as to how happiness impacts those around us and can change one's environment.
  • Precepts or action steps needed for happiness.
  • An action plan to integrate happiness goals within instruction, and to apply knowledge acquired in the course.

Completion of all specified assignments is required for issuance of hours or credit. The Heritage Institute does not award partial credit.

The use of artificial intelligence is not permitted. Assignment responses found to be generated by AI will not be accepted.

Completing the basic assignments (Section A. Information Acquisition) for this course automatically earns participants their choice of CEUs (Continuing Education Units), Washington State Clock Hours, Oregon PDUs, or Pennsylvania ACT 48 Hours. The Heritage Institute offers CEUs and is an approved provider of Washington State Clock Hours, Oregon PDUs, and Pennsylvania ACT 48 Hours.



Continuing Education Quarter credits are awarded by Antioch University Seattle (AUS). AUS requires 75% or better for credit at the 400 level and 85% or better to issue credit at the 500 level. These criteria refer both to the amount and quality of work submitted.

  1. Completion of Information Acquisition assignments 30%
  2. Completion of Learning Application assignments 40%
  3. Completion of Integration Paper assignment 30%


CREDIT/NO CREDIT (No Letter Grades or Numeric Equivalents on Transcripts)
Antioch University Seattle (AUS) Continuing Education Quarter credit is offered on a Credit/No Credit basis; neither letter grades nor numeric equivalents are on a transcript. 400 level credit is equal to a "C" or better, 500 level credit is equal to a "B" or better. This information is on the back of the transcript.

AUS Continuing Education quarter credits may or may not be accepted into degree programs. Prior to registering, determine with your district personnel, department head, or state education office the acceptability of these credits for your purpose.



  • Modelling Happiness by Reen Rose is approximately $15 for the paperback version on Amazon or free on a Kindle.
  • Alternately, you can use online resources and your own research in lieu of Modelling Happiness to complete this course.

  • Modelling Happiness: A Guide for Teachers and Parents
    ISBN# 0993988326
    by Rose, Reen
    Reen Rose

    Buy from Amazon


The text is approximately $15 from and student-identified online resources and research are generally free.



Assignments done in a course forum will show responses from all educators who have or are taking the course independently. Feel free to read and respond to others' comments. 
Group participants can only view and respond to their group members in the Forum. 

Assignment #1: Introduce Yourself

  • Read the article What is Happiness, Anyway? at
  • Introduce yourself including your background, professional situation, your reasons for being interested in this course, and your general level of experience and proficiency with Emotional Intelligence and a Growth Mindset.
  • Describe current challenges and what you expect to gain from taking this course.
  • Response should be 250-500 words.

Assignment #2: Building a Foundation

  • [Reen Rose is very open about her own happiness story and how it led her to write, "Modelling Happiness".]
  • Read 'Section 1 of Modelling Happiness- Building a Foundation'



  • Read "Thoughts on Hope and Overcoming Adversity" by Nelson Mandela. If this site isn't loading for you, then you can go to the Jewels of Happiness website for a shortened version.
  • Watch the video.
  • In 250-500 words respond with your own happiness story whether you are writing about overcoming a struggle in the past or writing about a journey you are currently taking.

Assignment #3: The Science Behind the Precepts

  • [This section addresses the research behind happiness.  More specifically, this section will help you to understand the neuroscience behind happiness, how the brain learns, and your equation for happiness.]
  • Read the Modelling Happiness section 'The Science Behind the Precepts'


  • Do your own research into the neuroscience behind happiness (include a minimum of 3 references in your response).
  • Answer the following questions and issues in a brief response  (350-500 words) addressing the following:
  1. ∙         Discuss Your Equation for Happiness. "Genetics + Circumstance + Intentional Activity = Happiness"
  2. ∙         How does Self-Determination Theory impact your interactions with students?
  3. ∙         Discuss intrinsic and extrinsic motivation as well as the role of incentives in the way you interact with students.
  4. ∙         Discuss Peter Warr's ‘The Needed Nine’ and how it relates to your role as an educator.

Assignment #4: Enjoy the Journey

[If I'm being perfectly honest, I believe this chapter was written specifically for me. I have a preoccupation with an end goal/destination and I need to work on enjoying the journey.]

  • Read the Modelling Happiness section 'Enjoy the Journey'


  • Research consciousness in respect to The Serenity Prayer, goal setting, flexibility, hedonic adaptation, and include a minimum of 3 sources in your response. 
  • I recently watched this TED Talk and it is phenomenal. Please watch it with me and expand on how you can enjoy the journey:
  • Write a response including the following (350-500 words):
    • Reflect on how you can practice consciousness in your own life and how you can incorporate this process into your classroom.
    • How can setting goals impact you, your classroom, and your students?
    • How can maintaining a flexible approach impact your classroom?
    • How can teaching children about the purpose of emotions impact their mental health and help them to understand how feelings can serve a deeper purpose?
    • How can you teach your students to enjoy not just the end goal but also the journey itself?

Assignment #5: Create a Mindset for Success

I was raised in a fixed mindset home. Long before I read the Carol Dweck's book Mindset I questioned the ideas I had been raised with. When I had my own children I focused on the need to work hard and practice rather than innate abilities. This section relates how one's mindset can impact happiness.

  • Read the Modelling Happiness section 'Create a Mindset for Success'


  • Do your own research into a Growth Mindset and include a minimum of 3 sources in your response.
  • Include the following in your response (300-500 words):
    • Discuss the differences between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset.
    • How can you incorporate what you have learned in your life and classroom? Specifically look to the section or resources on action to discuss how you can incorporate a growth mindset in your own lessons.
    • Discuss how you were raised, how you see yourself in the classroom, and how you can make changes for the betterment of yourself and your students.

Assignment #6: Make Decisions and Take Responsibility

["The antithesis to the modern helicopter parent." This section focuses on helping students learn how to make decisions and take responsibility.]

  • Read the Modelling Happiness section 'Make Decisions and Take Responsibility'


  1. Discuss your own position on making decisions and taking responsibility.
  2. How can you incorporate these ideas into your classroom? Specifically, how can you give students the ability to make decisions and to take responsibility for those decisions?
  3. How do you view praise within your classroom? Did this book make you want to change how you go about praise within your classroom?
  4. Do you believe you should, and how could you change your own mindset to think of yourself as being lucky and to instill that within all of your students?
  5. How can you model good decision-making skills? How can you increase the number and type of decisions that your students are making?

Assignment #7: Change Your Perspective

[Is your own glass half-full or half-empty? Happiness is all about perspective.]

  • Read the Modelling Happiness section 'Change Your Perspective'.


  • Do your own research into how one's perspective can impact their happiness, include a minimum of 3 sources in your response, possibly including the following two optional articles.. 
  • Optional Article: How Parkinson's Law Blocks Your Happiness and Creativity
  • Optional Article #2: The 3 Things Employees Real Want: Career, Community, Cause
  • Include the following in your response (350-500 words):
    • How could you include optical illusions or different perspectives in your lessons?
    • Do you view yourself as an optimist or a pessimist?
    • Do you think of yourself as having a job, career, or calling?
    • How can you teach your students to prevent a negative cloud from descending? Specifically, how can you model robust happiness even when things don't go your way?

Assignment #8: Be Curious

[I found the section on competition and collaboration to be rather compelling. In our own home we have gravitated to collaborative games rather than games that foster competition, but I hadn't linked this to overall happiness.]

  • Read the Modelling Happiness section 'Be Curious'


  • Research the topics of comparison, competition, collaboration, and curiosity, include a minimum of 3 sources in your response.
  • Including the following in your response (350-500 words):
    • How does our society set us up for comparison and how is that at odds with true happiness?
    • Look at the idea of competition and discuss healthy and unhealthy competition and how it can impact happiness.
    • Spend time discussing collaboration and how it can increase happiness.
    • Discuss how curiosity increases happiness and how you can bring the action items to your classroom.
    • In what ways can you move out of your own comfort zone?

Assignment #9: COURSE FORUM: Connect with Others

[It has been many years since 'Cast Away' was in theaters, but the movie still comes to my mind when I think about how important it is to connect with others.]

  • Read the Modelling Happiness section 'Connect with Others'


  • Research how connecting with others impacts happiness. Particularly focus on resources that address current technology and social media trends and how they are impacting happiness and emotions in young people. Include a minimum of 3 sources in your response.
  • If you use Facebook you can join the group Embracing Happiness in order to connect with other educators.
  • Include the following in your response (350-500 words):
    • Discuss the importance of connecting with others.
    • Have you done a Myers-Briggs test of your own? How does that compare to how you view yourself?
    • How do you evaluate the opposing views that technology can increase connections greatly and that technology is decreasing the connections people have so as to increase social isolation.
    • Discuss how you can change your life, classroom, and school in order to increase connections and decrease social isolation.

Assignment #10: COURSE FORUM: Take Action

This section forces us to go beyond theory, to actually take what you've learned, to go out into the world, and to make it happen.

  • Read the Modelling Happiness section 'Take Action'


  • Access the optional resources below and include a minimum of 3 additional sources in your response.
  • Optional article: 4 Habits of People Who Are Always Learning New Skills
  • Optional article #2: The Endowed Progress Effect: How Artificial Advancement Increases Effort
  • Optional CBS Video - a father's action plan. I also love this little animated short to share with children The Power of Kindness.
  • Include the following in your response (250-500 words):
    • Outline your own plan.
    • Discuss the 1% philosophy. "In the words from the Chinese classic text of Tao Te Ching, "The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step". How can you break out your action plan into steps so you can accomplish 1% of your action plan (and revel in that accomplishment)?
    • How can you steer clear of unrealistic expectations?
    • Discuss the endowed progress effect and specifically how you can make the most of this idea both within your own life and in your classroom.
    • When you reflect on your action plan, how can you put this into play both for yourself and for your students?

Assignment #11: COURSE FORUM: Be Part of Something Bigger

[The Chinese saying, "If you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody" ought to be in the doorway of every single school. Teachers fully embody this saying on a daily basis.]

  • Read the Modelling Happiness section ' Be Part of Something Bigger'


  1. Do you feel as though you have a job, a career, or a calling?
  2. Peter Warr lists one of the Needed Nine Features of Happiness as "having a valued role". How can you help your students to have a valued role?
  3. Look at your action plan, how can you design opportunities for your students to help others?
  4. How can you relate your curriculum to real life or better yet, how can you connect their education to the real world?



In this section, you will apply your learning to your professional situation. This course assumes that most participants are classroom teachers who have access to students. If you do not have a classroom available to you, please contact the instructor for course modifications. Assignments done in a course forum will show responses from all educators who have or are taking the course independently. ​Feel free to read and respond to others' comments. Group participants can only view and respond to their group members in the Forum. 


Assignment #12: The Science of Happiness

  • Watch the TED Talk by Dan Gilbert, "The surprising science of happiness".
  • Watch the TED Talk by Nancy Etcoff "Happiness and its surprises" or the TED Talk by Nic Marks "The Happy Planet Index"
  • Explore resources for lessons in happiness and emotions. You can start with lessons from the movie "Inside Out" published by the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley.
  • Include the following in your response (350-500 words):
    • Discuss Dan Gilbert's TED Talk and specifically address the many false concepts regarding what we think will make us happy.
    • Discuss either Nancy Etcoff's or Nic Marks' TED Talk including what it is that actually makes us happy.
    • A minimum of three resources for lessons on happiness and emotions. Share either a) lessons you have found OR b) resources you could use to design your own lessons. Please take the time to review the resources shared by others in the forum.

Assignment #13: Habits, Gratefulness, and Staying in the Moment

Choose one of the following TED Talks:

Complete two of the following, one required and one optional:

Required: Go back and view at least 3 of the optional TED Talks listed in assignments 1-13. Include reviews of the TED Talks you had not previously addressed and how they can inform your Happiness Action Plan. Response should be 500-750 words.


Option A) Describe in detail a unit or series of lessons throughout your school year which could help students to better understand happiness and emotions.


Option B) Utilizing all the TED Talks in this assignment revisit your Happiness Action Plan. Expand your plan. Submissions could be written as a paper, a picture of a board you've made for yourself, or some other medium that calls you to action.


Assignment #14: (500 Level ONLY)

In addition to the 400 level assignments, complete two of the following:

Option A) Using lessons or units you created in previous assignments, put together materials you can share with other educators so they can complete a happiness unit or series of lessons throughout the year. Be mindful of the fact that lessons or units meant for use by others contain significantly more support materials than lessons or units meant for ourselves.


Option B) Create a PowerPoint presentation for your staff based on this course and focused on helping your school meet the needs of students and staff who are struggling with happiness. The presentation MUST include graphics, pictures, color, correct font size, and be presentation ready. Check for errors before you submit. It must be at least 15 slides.


Option C) Design your own assignment with instructor's prior approval (examples include doing a podcast, keeping a happiness journal for at least 2 weeks, designing a website, blogging about happiness, or extended engagement with other teachers on the Facebook Group 'Embracing Happiness')This should involve 2 weeks of detailed work.


Assignment #15: (Required for 400 and 500 level)

(Please do not write this paper until you've completed all of your other assignments)

Write a 400-500 word Integration Paper answering these 5 questions:

  1. What did you learn vs. what you expected to learn from this course?
  2. What aspects of the course were most helpful and why?
  3. What further knowledge and skills in this general area do you feel you need?
  4. How, when and where will you use what you have learned?
  5. How and with what other school or community members might you share what you learned?


Instructors will comment on each assignment. If you do not hear from the instructor within a few days of posting your assignment, please get in touch with them immediately.


CHARITY STAUDENRAUS, M.A.T, received her BA from Willamette University, her MAT from Willamette University. Charity has experience teaching math, science, social studies, business, and language courses at the middle and high school level.  She is currently serving on the 2014-2017 Oregon Science Content and Assessment Panel as well as the Oregon Instructional Materials Criteria Development Committee.  In addition Charity is consulting on a Rutgers University and WPI project funded through multiple Department of Education and National Science Foundation Grants.


BEING HAPPY: Teaching Happiness


  • Rose, ReenModelling Happiness: A Guide for Teachers and Parents. Reen Rose, 2017.This book takes the reader from the research on happiness to creating an action plan. It is a quick read written by a teacher who understands the joys and challenges of those in education.
  • Warr, Peter Bryan., and Guy Clapperton. The Joy of Work?: Jobs, Happiness, and You. Routledge, 2010. A dense book with a few solid nuggets regarding work and happiness.
  • Dweck, Carol S. Mindset. Robinson, an Imprint of Constable & Robinson Ltd, 2017. The book you need to read in order to help students embrace a growth mindset.

Articles available online-

TED Talks-