Expert’s View: Success ‘Begins With A Little Spark’

Brunswick launched its inaugural ’WICK Center Speaker Series — focusing on wellness, insight, courage, and kindness — with a day-long visit from a renowned author and teacher, a positive psychologist who has served as a strength-based performance coach for some of the world’s most successful professionals.
Daniel Lerner, author of U Thrive: How to Succeed in College (and Life), spoke to Upper Schoolers in a morning assembly on Thursday, Oct. 20. Afterwards, he joined students in the dining hall for one-on-one conversations.
He spoke to parents in an evening event that drew hundreds to Baker Theater. That talk, Passionately Successful: Making the Most of Happiness and Human Potential, posed illuminating, fundamental questions such as: How do I become really good at something but also stay well? Can success and happiness coexist?
The answer is yes, Lerner said, though the two “don’t go together as often as we would like.”
Drawing from his “Science of Happiness” course — the most popular elective at New York University — and his cutting-edge research into high-performance professionals, Lerner said there is no one way to hedge against all unhappiness, but part of the equation is to engage in work that is fundamentally enjoyable, while also taking time to explore.
“It begins with a little spark,” he said. “It requires a bit of patience. It’s a way of saying: I’m going to build into that in a way that’s organic to me.”
Lerner told parents that research has shown that human brains are more efficient when they are relaxed and happy — students learning a new language, for instance, can absorb lessons about 20 percent faster when they “prime their brains with positive emotion.”  
Lerner’s visit was the first in a three-part series of the schoolwide initiative, the Center for Wellness, Insight, Courage & Kindness — or The ’WICK Center. The series brings globally recognized and distinguished experts in the field of health and wellness to the Upper School to speak to students, faculty, and parents.
Up next in the series is a talk on Jan. 5 entitled Rethinking Anxiety: Why Anxiety Can be An Advantage, and What to Do When It’s Not by Tracy Dennis-Tiwary, Ph.D. 



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