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Happiness is hard: investing our energy in the right places

Jackson Roberts

Jackson Roberts

Julia Robbins

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I didn’t break my back when I fell off a hammock a few weeks ago! I fell onto a metal pole and barely even bruised my back. I know, thrilling, right? I stood right back up and went on about my daily life. Ok, it probably doesn’t sound thrilling, because it is so mundane. We normally don’t break our backs, we don’t face some type of catastrophic accident on a daily basis, and nobody is normally out to get us. Because life normally works out for us, people at school, and in society in general, have begun to focus on the negative things: the anomalies, what doesn’t work out.

So many amazing things are happening all the time at school. Just this Thursday, I had an exciting math class where we began our deep dive into combinatorics; I found out in Spanish class that the word ‘dystopian’ in English comes from the Greek δυσ (dus)- “bad” and τόπος (topos) “place”; we read the first lines of the Odyssey in Greek in my Ancient Greek class which was a great throwback to reciting the incantation of the Odyssey in 10th grade English; during my F free, my friend and physics classmate made a fun observation about the friction between a chair and the floor in one of the study rooms in Lutnick. All of these moments may seem insignificant from afar, but they all contributed to make my day great.

None of what I just mentioned is out of the ordinary for a day in the life of a Horace Mann student, but we just don’t take the time to appreciate everything that we learn, everyone we talk to, and everything that we do. In fact, we normally do the opposite. In our minds we emphasize the test grades that we aren’t happy with or we compare ourselves to people who seem to be doing better than us in a class.

We can make the decision to focus our energy on positive things. Let’s talk about how well our Water Polo team is doing, or the fact that Spectrum just gave a great performance in the library for Breast Cancer Awareness Week, or about how lucky we are to have a new state of the art science building and community center. The list could go on and on.

A significant amount of the stress that students face actually comes from how well resourced Horace Mann is. Our academic stress accompanies the incredibly high standards that our teachers hold us to because they want us to succeed intellectually in life. We stress out about deadlines for articles for various publications without taking the time to realize how incredible it is that the school helps fund our publications and that publication advisors invest time and energy in ensuring that the publication is of the highest caliber: I hear peers stressing out about club events, barely taking the time to think about how privileged we are for the school to provide the space and resources to succeed in our clubs. Our stress often comes at the expense of us ignoring our resources. 

We get to decide what we give our energy to. It’s sometimes easier to dwell on the negatives, especially when it seems that so many people around us are doing just that, but we will become a more upbeat community if we redirected our energy to the positives.

In 20 years, you don’t want to regret that you didn’t appreciate your time in high school. Horace Mann is an amazing place with fantastic and energetic people. Make the decision right now to recognize how special a community you are a part of.

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Happiness is hard: investing our energy in the right places