Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Harvard's Kindness Pledge and DH@School

Hello Optimists,

We all know that optimism and positivity is a universal thing. We all need it. We all want it. And we strive to make it a part of our lives. But over the last two days, I have read about two new initiatives to incorporate optimism and kindness not only in our every day lives, but into the curriculum and experiences of students.

As many of you know, I am a big fan and advocate of the company Zappos for their work on promoting happiness and for their commitment to spreading positivity and happiness in the world, as well as around their workplace. They even have classes for their employees about the science of happiness. Awesome! I have written about the company a few times and reviewed the CEO's book in a previous post here on OO, and I continue to follow all of their great initiatives surrounding their "Delivering Happiness" project.

Yesterday I was pleasantly surprised to learn about their newest project: bringing the curriculum of happiness into schools with DH@School. To spark the interest of many educators to bring the study of happiness to the classroom, they are planning an inaugural "PHD", or Pursuit of Happiness Day, where they will challenge educators to discuss the study of happiness with their students. This is a great idea that I know will catch on around the country and around the globe and has already gotten a lot of attention in the few days after its launch.

As if that wasn't enough good news on the Optimism front, today I read an article about Harvard's Kindness Pledge which was put into effect at the start of this school year. Incoming freshman are required by the administration to sign a pledge that is an attempt to promote kindness on the campus and in the world. This official document requires students to "stand ready to advance knowledge, to promote understanding, and to serve society... to act with integrity, respect, and industry, and to sustain a community characterized by inclusiveness and civility," as well as to "commit to upholding the values of the College and to making the entryway and Yard a place where all can thrive and where the exercise of kindness holds a place on par with intellectual attainment."

However like most things, the pledge has been up for debate - some are opposed to the implementation of the pledge and think that it is against the traditions of Harvard and will put those who didn't sign "on the spot". Regardless of whether everyone signs this pledge or not, I think it's a great idea and will allow those who want to participate and sign the pledge to start off their college careers on the right foot. 

I certainly think we are on to something here with integrating positivity and happiness into schools, but I would love to hear what you think about this. Do you agree or disagree with the initiatives put forth by Zappos and Harvard? Did any projects like this make their way into your classrooms at school?

Keep Smiling,


  1. I think optimistic outlook, positivity, and values assessment should all be factors in a curriculum for high school students. It should also include learning about practical life issues that include personal finances, credit, job searching, and other knowledge that is practical. Young people need this.

    Tossing It Out

  2. @Lee: Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I agree completely - all of these topics, especially the essential practical skills, should be integrated into the curriculum.


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