It has been lovely to be treated to some beautiful, crisp winter days this week, with some glorious sunrises – quite a contrast to the gloomy yet unseasonably mild days of December. Such brightness certainly lifts our spirits, especially when most of us leave and return home in the dark!
This time last year we were, of course, in second lockdown and mostly confined to our homes, coping with remote schooling (again) and isolated from one another. It felt for many like a pretty dark place and it certainly tested our resilience.
The bright days and the cosiness of our homes are somehow accentuated by the dark and the cold, and the same is true of our human interactions. We are all grateful for the light that others shine into our lives when we are perhaps not on top form, as well as for the warmth of friendship and the love of our families.
You may have heard of the Radio programme ‘In the Psychiatrist’s Chair’. Dr Anthony Clare interviews famous people about their lives, their wishes, their foibles, their weaknesses, their health. After many years of presenting the programme, Dr Clare identified what he believed were the seven great secrets of happiness. They were the following: cultivating a passion; being part of something bigger than ourselves; avoiding introspection; accepting change; living in the moment; auditing our happiness; acting happy – that alone can effect change. I would very much encourage us all to reflect on these seven secrets this term and to try to bring them into all our lives; as we progress through January, this time of long dark nights and short cold days, we need to keep our eyes fixed firmly on the horizon and the hope that Spring brings us. In addition, we need to reflect on those things that make us happy.
You also may have heard of the simple ‘10/5’ or ‘Zone of hospitality’ rule, widely practised in the hospitality industry. Staff are taught that they should make eye contact and smile warmly when a guest comes within ten feet, cheerfully greeting anyone who comes within five feet. Aspects of that are currently a bit more difficult with face coverings, but smiles and greetings between students and between students and staff certainly make a massive difference to the warmth of the HGS community.
At the same time, there are so many ways in which our students can shine a light into others’ lives. Daily acts of kindness and courtesy at school and at home often breed reciprocity. Prefects, Mental Health Ambassadors or just caring, timely words of encouragement shared by a friend or a teacher can do much to influence our mood. One of the greatest compliments I can read in a school report is when the tutor says of a student that they “light up the room” when they enter in the morning; we all appreciate such positive people who will often sow smiles and laughter in their paths.
Our leading lights in the school encourage others to follow them by example – whether as Prefects, on the sports field, in house events, in club activities or charity fundraising. Our students are a Force for Good in so many different ways and in so many different areas – testament to the fact that learning and development takes place inside and outside the classroom at HGS.
So, as the days gradually lengthen, I wish you ample moments of brightness and warmth over the weeks ahead.
Stay well and safe.
Be kind to yourself and others.