On Zen Frogs and Creating Happiness

It’s 10 minutes to five o’clock on a sunny, beautiful afternoon in May. Just a couple of moments ago, I was sitting in the chapel at Hart House, immersed in a mindful meditation workshop hosted by Cheryl Champagne from Health and Wellness at U of T. I feel calm, happy and, well, a bit surprised.  Who knew that 20 minutes of breathing could transform me from frazzled to zen? I guess I forgot how amazing meditation really is. In the spirit of wellness and renewal (part two!), today’s post will be all about workshops, events, and resources on campus that can help you keep positive in this journey called Life.     Dare to Self-Care? It took me years to figure out that in order to be at my best, I had to care for myself as much as I cared for other people. So I was pretty delighted to discover that U of T’s very own Health and Wellness Centre offers a workshop called Dare to Self-Care. Hosted by Jill Cressy, the workshop explores a variety of self-care practices, including stress management strategies, mind-body techniques, and 10 keys to happier living. Jill usually asks the following questions in her session: What do you care about? What are your values related to health and wellness? How can you best support Happiness in your daily life? Try your hand at them! I sat down and attempted to, but as usual, when I try to answer questions, I come up with a bunch of them instead: What does it mean to be mindful?  How can we go about creating Happiness? My quest led me to Sutha Sathananthan, a Masters candidate in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at U of T. Sutha took a Cognitive and Psychological Foundations of Effective Leadership class last fall, and became hooked on the concept of ‘happiness’. The outcome? Sutha founded Engineering Happiness, U of T’s first on-campus Happiness Initiative.
Sutha, founder of Engineering Happiness at U of T
“I started researching a lot about happiness, and I learned that there is a lot of negativity out there” says Sutha. According to her, people don’t start by thinking ‘well, what really makes me happy?’ Instead, they try to find ‘happiness’ when they are faced with depression, anxiety, and other mental health or emotional challenges. Engineering Happiness is all about providing the space and the tools for others to create awareness about the things that bring them balance, contentment, and joy. Engineering Happiness draws its ethos from the field of Positive Psychology, which seeks to make normal life more fulfilling. Think fostering joy, creativity, and authentic happiness as ultimate goals. U of T's Health and Wellness also offers some amazing workshops that explore similar themes. In fact, there is just so much to be explored in the realm of wellness right on campus. Did you know that U of T actually has a Happiness Webinar Series? It’s true! Not only that, the Multi-Faith Centre is currently offering a class on Mindful Meditation every Wednesday afternoon. Later this summer, you can even participate in a Happiness Challenge, brought to you by Engineering Happiness. You’ll be able to go out in the world an document whatever makes you happy using any medium, then submit your creation for a prize. My foray into meditation, happiness and self-care kicked off Mental Health Awareness week. Did I get the answers to my questions? Nah…but I did learn a few meditation techniques, and learn a bit more about Happiness. Am I happy? Yes, I can safely say so. Check out Jill Cressy’s Dare to Self-Care workshop on May 10 from 10-11 am at Charles St. Residence. Engineering Happiness is also hosting a free Laughter Yoga session on Wednesday, May 8th from 7-8 pm at Hart House, 2nd floor Debate Room. Come out and flourish! -Aziza

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