The Happiness Inquiry

A teacher's quest to cultivate happy habits in her students


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I went to my first yoga class abroad today, and also my first 100 minute+ class. While the poses were virtually the same, it was definitely a different style of instruction than I’m used to back home. Even though I’ve been practicing regularly (2-3 times per week) for the past two years, it was an interesting experience to be out of my comfort zone due to not being at my home studio. One major difference was the quantity of time spent in meditation–maybe 20 minutes or so of breathing in seated position at the end. The directives were also a bit more concrete and offered fewer modifications, which in end meant that I pushed myself a bit farther. By the end, I had definitely enjoyed a full mind and body work out. I’ve generally been feeling so appreciative lately of yoga and how good it makes me feel. I’ve included a poll below, asking what your favorite physical activity is. 🙂

And since pictures are worth a thousand words, below is a picture I took on my walk home from the class this evening, passing through a two-tiered bike lot situated near the train station. A friendly fella explained that it’s typical for Aarhusians (just go with it) to leave their bikes there on their way out of town for the weekend, etc. It was so neat to see thousands of bikes, all lined up like that. This town definitely seems to be into biking, and I can only hope Chicago moves more in that direction as time goes on. I think we’re at least on the right path!

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2: Birdies

Little fat birdies–city birds, really–have always been a tremendous source of joy for me. I’m fascinated by their behaviors–the hopping about, the occasional fluttering of wings from ground-level, the head cocking from one side to the next as they examine a potential morsel, and of course, the way they scatter when you come anywhere near them is always amusing.  Today was a great one for me, bird-wise, so I am dedicating my second gratitude entry to birds of all species, since years of watching them has been undeniable happy-making. 🙂

Out and about this afternoon, we saw not one but TWO families of ducklings–talk about luck! And for the first time in person (why did it take so long?), I spotted a black capped chickadee in the forest. While hanging out by the water, a little brown bird settled quite near to us and let me observe him for awhile, which I certainly appreciated. Then, the bird-watching culminated with the sweeping performance of several swallows diving for their food at dusk over the canal next to our dinner table.  

A neat thing about Aarhus? In a single Sunday you can walk from the city center, to forest, park, a pit stop by the beach, and then head back to the city center for pizza by the canal. Sure, it was over 9 miles, but lovely and relaxing the whole way. And everywhere you went–nature!

 Look real closely and you’ll see them!

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Beach…complete with freeeeezing water. However, I did find some really need rocks and shells (for some lucky students). I may be back for a swim if the air temperature can find its way into the 70s or higher..
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A well-deserved pizza after 9 miles of walking. 

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Documentary Update: Tomorrow I will venture out into the great city of Aarhus and seek my first interviewees for the Happiness Inquiry documentary. I’m hoping a local cafe owner will let me set up shop outside and solicit passers-by, since they may go over a bit better than approaching people in the middle of the sidewalk.  


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1: Fresh Produce

In the interest of cultivating as much happiness as possible, I’m going to take some advice I’ve heard numerous times: practice gratitude. Each post will be dedicated to something I am specifically grateful for, beginning today with fresh produce since we started our first full day in Aarhus with a visit to the local farmers market. 

We also supplemented our local goods with a visit to our grocery store (bottom). Enjoy the funky labels, kids!

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Using a lot of what you see above, tonight’s first homemade dinner was pollock (a white fish we picked up at the market) with creamy leeks and dill, and a side of roasted potatoes:
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Interviews will start Monday! I’m taking this weekend “off” just to get my bearings. We walked almost 6 miles today, exploring the City Center where our apartment is. I’ve already noticed how friendly and approachable everyone seems to be, so I am feeling a bit more confident about having to approach strangers on the street to ask for their participation in a documentary. 🙂 

Back with more around this time tomorrow! Thanks for reading!


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24.5 hours and counting until take off!

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Tomorrow night we leave for Denmark! I’m feeling readier than ever since I just confirmed a planning meeting with an MYP teacher at the Aarhus Academy for Global Education, an IB school in the same stage of IB certification as Pulaski! Together, we will be creating a website where our MYP students can communicate this coming Fall, sort of as virtual pen pals. I’m open to suggestions if anyone happens to know of a web resource that they’d recommend for such a purpose!

Thanks to everyone who has signed up to follow my blog and to everyone who has commented! Once I arrive, expect an update daily with observations about the happy habits I’m noticing, as well as highlights from daily interactions and interviews that will be featured in the documentary I’m creating.

Remember, Pulaski students–to comment, just sign your first name, last initial and grade you are entering next year. Example: KHenry8. This way I’ll know who has been responding! Special souvenirs for all Pulaski students who get involved in this blog!