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Thinking "Happy Thoughts"

Posted: May 20, 2020

By Rossana Villaflor, Teacher & Former Overcoming Obstacles Student

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I woke up recently to the film “Hook” playing on TV. Watching Robin Williams as Peter Pan gave me a warm reminder about the importance of thinking “happy thoughts” in order to be able “fly,” whether as an adult or a child. It prompted me to make a list of the thoughts and memories that make me happy. This list of joyful thoughts provided me with some relief and balance against the stress that I’ve been feeling. My list also made me reflect on the stresses that my students continue to undergo during this quarantine—like not being able to graduate on stage, missing their friends, and being away from school in general.

I began to wonder how important it is for my students to be reminded to think “happy thoughts,” and about the power of positive thinking to get through this long hurdle we all face in 2020. In the film “Hook,” the adult Peter Pan is reminded that “finding the smile is finding the true self.” In times of uncertainty, we are prone to worry and tend to forget things that make us happy. What are the things and moments that make you and your students smile? And, how can you help your students look at the bright side of a situation?

The “Positive Thoughts” activity sheet found in the Overcoming Obstacles lesson on “Having a Positive Attitude” for Grades 3-5 contains a list of statements that your students can practice saying each day. Challenge your students to select at least one positive statement they can say about themselves, and one positive statement they can share with their fellow students, or their family members. Ask your students to record the changes in how they feel about themselves after saying the positive statements for several days in a row.

In times of hardship and sorrow, it can be easy for a child to dwell in one sad thought after another. While sadness is a valid and useful emotion that, according to Psychology Today, helps us understand ourselves, prolonged sadness can cause depression and impact our immune system’s ability to remain healthy. In a time like this when we have reasons to be worried and sad, it is crucial that we teach our children the power of a positive attitude and challenge them to always find a reason to feel happy, grateful, and joyful. As Peter Pan explained in his story, “You must think lovely wonderful thoughts and they will lift you up in the air.”


Overcoming Obstacles offers hundreds of free K-12 life skills lessons designed to prepare young people for all of the challenges life presents. It’s free now and forever and available for download by creating an account at overcomingobstacles.org.

Free Life Skills Lessons for Remote Learning

Overcoming Obstacles Life Skills Lessons for Remote Learning contains brief and engaging activities secondary school students can do while learning from home.

Download Here