Dear fellow schoolmate,

Happy new year!

How did you spend your vacation? Don’t hesitate to take a break as a meaningful retreat is for another mile. As for me, reading flourishes my teaching. I have read an article from Harvard Business Review (HBR), Winter 2020, titled: “Happiness Traps: How We Sabotage Ourselves at Work.”

Due to the social unrest, the pace of change, and the global uncertainty, we are undoubtedly more stressed than ever. Yet, the author highlights that we usually create stress by ourselves. There are three kinds of self-made stress – ambition, ‘shoulds,’ and overwork. ‘Ambition’ focuses solely on personal goals, it makes distrust among peers; ‘Shoulds’ hides us from who we are, we pretend to be someone we aren’t; ‘Overwork’ keeps us away from friends, family, exercise, or sleep. As a result, we belittle human needs and satisfy with getting the jobs done.

Work can be a source of happiness. The author suggests us to fill the routine by passion for a meaningful purpose, a hopeful view of the future, and true friendships.

Meaningful purpose is an engine for work-place happiness. We find meaning in teaching differently, but there are still commons. We want to fight for a cause we care about, to innovate, to improve our working and teaching, to learn, and to grow. HBR’s studies show that meaningful work is as vital for a janitor, middle manager as it is for a CEO. It has another expression in the Christian community – faith.

Hope is about the realization of our vision that spells our values and desires. It helps us fit our vision with responsibilities and opportunities. It encourages us to chart a course, even in dire prospects. It leads to courage, thoughtful plans, and concrete actions.

Real friendships are with love. Harvard Grant Study highlights that love is the most critical determinant of happiness in life. At the same time, Gallup finds that close work relationships boost our satisfaction by 50%. Teachers with a best friend at school are seven times as likely as others to engage fully in their teaching. We want people to care about us and value us as human beings. We also need to do the same for others.

Coincidently, it matches with the yearnings people strive for, as described in the Bible. “Three things will last forever – faith, hope, and love – and the greatest of these is love. – 1 Corinthians 13:13.” 2020 is full of challenges. Let’s get ready for a new start with the three ingredients in our teaching life – the faith, the hope, and the love.

Mr. Kenneth H. Ng