Name ______________________ Tutor Group ____________

Date (circle) September/October/January
Tutor Group ____________
2010 - 2011
How to be Happy
RME Year 2
(NOCN General Religious Education level 2)
In your second year at St. Dominic’s you will continue to follow a course in Religious & Moral Education.
This qualification is accredited by the National Open College Network and each student that successfully
passes the course will receive an NOCN certificate. This is a nationally recognised qualification which
demonstrates that you have successfully completed a course in Religious & Moral Education. To pass the
course you need to attend regularly, participate in discussion and group work and complete the written
elements of the Course Handbooks. There are three Handbooks covering the topics How to be Happy,
Searching for God and The Moral Maze.
Lesson Objectives:
To get to know each other and complete the RME Individual Learning Plan.
To consider the question ‘What is the meaning of my life?’
To explore the difference between spiritual and material goals in life.
Activity 1: Icebreaker
Activity 2: RME ILP
The learning outcomes in the How to be Happy Course are to:
Reflect on questions of life and death.
Understand the relationship between religious belief, personal faith and lived experience.
Use theological thinking skills to be able to respond to their own personal experience.
Understand that faith is crucial to personal well being.
Complete part A of the RME Individual Learning Plan which you teacher will give you.
Activity 3: ‘Does Anybody Know What We Are Living For?’
List five goals in your life that are most important to you at the moment.
How do you think these will change over your life?
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Discuss your findings in the group. Is the ‘meaning of life’ different in different religious traditions
(e.g., Christianity, Hinduism, Islam?)
From the list on the board identify the three most important goals in your life:
Final Prayer:
Dear God, help us to love you, and each other, more and more. Help us to have spiritual goals in life and
not be people addicted to money and material possessions. Help us to be happy and at peace with
ourselves, bless the relationships we have with each other, and make us all more aware of your great love
for us.
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Lesson Objectives:
To decide what are the most important things which make us happy.
To explore how spiritual values and faith are essential to personal well being.
Starter Activity:
Watch the Laughing Baby clip on YouTube (W/RME/How to be Happy/Laughing Baby). If only happiness
was this simple as we get older!
Activity 1: Diamond 9
What are the most important things which make us happy? Your teacher will give you the Diamond 9 cards
which you complete in groups of three.
Activity 2:
Combine groups of three into groups of 6. Look at each other’s arrangements and reach a consensus
amongst the six.
Activity 3: Discuss
Your teacher will give you the answers. Do you agree with the findings?
Activity 4: Reflective Log
In the box below write down your personal top three factors that make you happy:
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Lesson Objectives:
To examine whether you can be happy without spirituality
To understand the importance of God in our lives if we are to be truly content
Starter Activity: Recap last lesson – What Makes us Happy?
Activity 1: Who Needs God?
Religious faith was very high on the list of happiness factors. But, can you be happy without faith? Before
you read the article write below the meaning of two keywords.
As you read the article ‘The Meaning of Life’ by Adrian Barnett, put a √ or a X next to stuff you
agree/disagree with.
The Meaning of Life!
One of the major misconceptions about atheists is that we have little or no respect for life - human or
otherwise. Because we think that all life is some accidental freak of nature there is no meaning or purpose to
it all, and it is all pretty worthless. We cannot possibly gain the same enjoyment and fulfilment from living that
believers do. We care nothing for the suffering of others, as they're all just worm food in the end.
What fresh lunacy is this? (to quote Harry Hill.)
Yes, life on this planet is a lucky accident, probably similar to countless other emergences of life on other
planets. No, there is no particular purpose or meaning behind it all - why should there be? What right do we
have to consider ourselves special?
However, as an atheist, I consider all (well, most) life to be sacred (if I can use such a word). Atheists know
that we only get one chance at life. This is it. This is all you get. No reincarnation, no heaven or hell, no
second chances. You only get one go, and to mess it up or waste it is the most terrible thing.
Make the most of your brief span of awareness. Educate yourself so that you can see the wonders of the
universe for what they are, without the fog of religious belief. Swim in the Indian Ocean. Watch the sunset at
Uluru (Ayer's Rock). Tickle a baby. Climb a tree. Learn to unicycle. Massage your partner. Take up pottery.
Gain pleasure from making other peoples' lives better. Some people live in appalling conditions, earning in a
week what you might earn in one hour (if that). Support an orphanage.
Some theists seem to have this bizarre notion that atheists are sad, dreary, selfish people who only ever
consider themselves, have no concern for anyone else and mope around all day wondering how they can
get to Heaven without having to believe in Jesus and be nice to people. (Funny just how wrong some people
can be, isn't it?)
I am often asked "Why bother? If life is a meaningless accident, with no ultimate goal or purpose, why not
just kill yourself now? Why not even go on a killing spree and end the worthless lives of everybody else?
What stops you ending it all?" To which I would reply - "Have you ever built a snowman?" After all, snowmen
are ephemeral objects, soon to be melted in the sun. A snowman has no ultimate purpose or goal, and in a
few weeks there will be no trace of it's ever existing. We build snowmen because all of us, theists and
atheists, live here and now. In the context of our own brief mortal lives, we are able to enjoy this life and gain
pleasure from ultimately pointless acts. It is fun to build a snowman, or climb a mountain, or watch the
sunset, or go for a long cycle ride in the countryside. The purpose of these things is not "out there"
somewhere, waiting to be achieved - the meaning is in what it means to ourselves. I am not overly
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concerned about some future fifty billion years from now, but I am concerned about the future of humanity
here, now and for the generations that follow. That is the context of a mortal life, and that is why I "bother" to
live and damn well have fun while I'm doing it.
There is no meaning to life itself. There is no purpose to the universe. You can, however, give life meaning
through your actions. Make the world a better place for yourself, your contemporaries and your descendents.
Atheists can, and often do, lead a full and enjoyable life. We know that this is all we get, and all that
everybody else gets, so we do the best that we can for ourselves and others. It's no good praying for people
dying in a third-world country - there's no God to help them, only people. If people don't do it, nobody else
will. I am sickened whenever there is a major disaster in the world, and some politician or church leader says
that the victims desperately need our prayers. No they don't. They need someone to go and dig them out of
the rubble, comfort the bereaved, find out why the plane crashed, bring them food and medicine. Prayer is
not going to do that - people are. There is an orphanage in Kenya, called the Diani Childrens Village. The
kids there have no family at all, and live in, well... a hovel. Do they need prayers and Bibles, or do they need
love, money, food, clothes and education?
As an atheist, I consider all life to be sacred. A life and a mind are terrible things to waste. Make the most of
them while you can, and help others do the same.
© Adrian Barnett 1997, last updated 6/6/2000
Is that such a Bad Thing?
Discussion Questions:
Has this article changed any of your views about atheists?
What things did you agree/disagree with in the article?
Can you pick out any phrases or sentences that are clearly very spiritual in this article, e.g., things
that demonstrate that the author might have a profound spirituality?
Can you think of anything that the author might be missing out on as a result of his atheism?
What do you think about his views on prayer?
Does Adrian Barnett believe in God? [this is not a trick question]
Someone said “the person who wrote this article might well be further ahead in the queue for heaven
than many who go to church every Sunday or worship regularly in the mosque or temple!” Do you
Final Prayer:
Lord God, help us in those times when we lose faith or doubt your existence. Help us never to be afraid to
ask questions. Give us the strength to believe in your promise to be with us always, even to the end of time,
and may we place all our trust in you. Amen.
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Lesson Objectives:
To investigate further the latest research findings indicating what makes people happy
To see how this might impact on our own lives
To introduce to students The Happiness Manifesto
Activity 1: The Happiness Questionnaire
Do you enjoy gardening/planting things/looking after plants? If not now, do you think you will in the
List five blessings (things you are grateful for). You must list five in less than a minute.
Do you have a conversation with someone close to you each week that lasts an hour or longer?
How often do you telephone friends?
Have you given yourself a treat in the past week? What did you do?
How often do you have a really good laugh?
At least once a day/3 or 4 times a week/once a week or less
How much fairly vigorous exercise have you taken
in the last week?
In the last week have you started up a conversation (however briefly) with someone you don’t know?
How much TV do you watch each day? 1½ hours or less/1½ - 3 hours/more than 3 hours
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Have you performed an act of kindness for someone either today or yesterday? What was it?
How often do you pray?
Every day/2 or 3 times a week/less than 2 or 3 times a week
Activity 2 : Happiness Resolutions
In the space below, write down three things you might do in the future to increase your happiness:
Closing Prayer:
Lord, help me to count the many blessings you have given me, help me to reach out to friends and
strangers, help me to use wisely the time I have each day, give me a kind heart and a ready smile.
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Lesson Objectives:
To understand that the way we look at things determines our beliefs, feelings and behaviour
To practice the skills of positive thinking and re-framing situations so that we can think and feel
Activity 1: The Farmer’s Son
There is an old, old story about a farmer in China, One
year the weather was very good and his crops grew strong
and high, and all his neighbours told him how lucky he was
to have such a fine crop and he replied, ‘Maybe’. Then the
day before he was going to start the harvest a herd of wild
horses came running off the plains and trampled all his
crops flat. His neighbours came around and said how
unlucky he was to lose his fine crop. The framer replied,
‘Maybe’. The next day the farmer’s son went out with a
length of rope and caught a wild stallion and three mares,
and the neighbours came round to admire the horses and
told the farmer how lucky he was. The farmer said,
‘Maybe’. In the morning the farmer’s son started to break in
the horses and no sooner had he mounted the stallion than
it threw him, and as he fell on the ground he broke his leg.
The neighbours carried him indoors and commiserated with
the farmer, saying how unlucky he was that his only son
was so badly injured. The farmer said, ‘Maybe’. The next
day the Emperor’s army came to the village on the way to
fight a great battle and all the able-bodied young men were
press-ganged into the army. But the farmer’s son was not
taken because if his broken leg. All his neighbours told the
farmer how lucky he was that his son had been saved from
the army and the farmer said, ‘Maybe’.
Discussion: What’s the moral of the story?
Activity 2: The Power of Positive Thinking
Two examples of positive thinking: ‘There’s no such thing as bad weather – only the wrong clothes’, Billy
Connolly. ‘We’re not retreating, we’re just advancing in another direction’, General George Patton. The
point is that our happiness is primarily affected by our perspective on life. The way we view situations and
events determines how we feel and behave. Some people always manage to look at things in a positive
way. In much the same way as a photographer tells you what is important in a picture by what he decides to
include in the frame and what is left out, the meanings we give to the events in our lives are determined by
the parts of our experience we choose to make important. Our interpretation of any situation depends on
what we include or exclude from our frame of perception. The fact is: everything is relative. When you think
one situation is bad, that is because you are comparing it to something you think is better.
Listen to the Dear Mum & Dad letter. How does the daughter re-frame the situation?
Activity 3: The Frame Game
Practice the power of positive thinking by reframing the following situations. Note that some people always
manage to look at things in a positive way. They have an ability to frame any situation in a way that leaves
them feeling empowered and strong. They can take a seemingly negative situation and reframe it to find the
positive. For these people, the glass is always half full, no matter how empty it may look to the rest of us.
The art of reframing the world with a positive perspective is not about ignoring problems, but about having
sufficient flexibility to make your point of view work for you instead of against you. Have a go at reframing
the following negative situations – there are no right or wrong answers, just different ways of looking at a
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I failed by exam because I’m useless at
the subject
My girlfriend/boyfriend dumped me
because I’m not a very nice person
I’m quite shy so I’m not going to the
I can’t play football (or swim) very well
I don’t get on very well with my parents
X doesn’t like me
‘Subject’ is too difficult
I’m scared to do that, so I won’t do it
I hate doing coursework
I don’t get anything out of going to
church/mosque/temple. It’s so boring
I’m gutted I didn’t get the dream job I
I’m nervous
My life is full of problems
I’m gutted - my team has just lost in the
Cup Final
I failed my exam because I didn’t work hard enough. Next
time I’ll start revising earlier and I’ll pass
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Lesson Objectives:
To decide what the key core values are in my life
To consider if my life has a key purpose and decide what is my Big Dream
To understand what it is that God might want from me
Activity 1: The World is Coming to an End
If the world was going to end one week from today, I would ...
Activity 2: What Are Your Core Values?
To find out your Core Values, answer the following questions:
Jump ahead to the end of your life. What are the three most important lessons you have learned
and why are they so important?
Think of someone you deeply respect. Describe three qualities in this person that you most admire.
Who are you at your best?__________________________________________________________
Write a sentence inscription you would like to see on your tombstone that would capture who you
really were in your life?
Make a list of the most important things that emerged from the questions –then choose your top 5 values –
the things on your list you absolutely cannot imagine going without – the most important things in your world
Top 5 Values
If you’re having problems completing the list consider the following questions:
What do you love to do so much that you’d pay to do it?
What do you feel really passionate about?
What would you choose to do if you had unlimited resources?
Who are the people or characters from history you most admire, and why?
What character traits do you want to develop?
What do you want to give back to the world?
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Now write your Big Dream:
If I could be, do and have anything in the world, I would …
End with the YouTube clip Suggestions for a Happier Life (W/RME/How to be Happy/Suggestions for a
Happier Life).
Closing prayer:
Lord God, help me to live my life looking to the stars, rather than to the ground. Help me to dream great
dreams and plan to achieve wonderful goals. Show me the values I need to be a person of love, help me
through the in-dwelling of your Spirit, to be the person I was created to be.
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Lesson Objectives:
To explore how ‘false consciousness’ often holds us back from living life to the full
To examine the extent to which belief in God can increase our levels of happiness
To discuss different faith tradition approaches to ‘living in the present’
Activity 1:
Discuss what you think ‘false consciousness’ is. Watch ‘Yes Man’ clip (W/RME/How to be Happy) and ‘Plan
a Successful Future’ (W/RME/How to be Happy).
Answer in small groups the following questions:
What are the two different ‘life approaches’ that these clips suggest? Which is most important?
Which brings most happiness? Why?
People who are obsessed by earning/making money often see themselves as successful. How
could this be seen as a ‘false consciousness’?
How important is it to live ‘in the moment’ – is it always possible?
In what ways does your own faith tradition allow you to ‘live in the moment’/plan for the future?
Activity 2: Are You A Spiritual Person?
Go down the flow chart, writing in your answers in the appropriate boxes. Discuss your answers with your
neighbour once you have finished.
What is the single most
important reason for your
What is the single most
important reason for your
belief or uncertainty?
Would you say that your
belief was the most
important or a very
important part of your life?
Have you totally rejected
the idea of God and
spirituality in your life?
Yes – state why
What is the most important
factor preventing you from
religious commitment or
Explain what reason you
would give for your ‘No’
No, why not?
Do you feel that your belief
could change and that
God and religion might
become much more
Closing Prayer: A Buddhist Blessing
May you be safe and protected
May you be happy and peaceful
May you be healthy and strong
May you carry your life with ease and grace
How do you think this might
No, why not?
Would you like to have a
stronger faith/closer
relationship with God?
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Starter Activity: How Angry Are You – Take the Test
How often do you get angry?
When was the last time you completely ‘lost it’?
Do you ever say things when you are angry that you later deeply regret? always/sometimes/never
Who gets you most angry?
As you get older is your anger getting …
On a scale of 1 – 10 (1 low, 10 high) how would you rate your level of anger?
What is your best method of reducing anger?
every day/one or twice a week/very rarely/never
in the last week/last six months/never
Activity 1: Jesus Gets Angry
Read the extract below from Mark’s Gospel: 11, 15-18
They reached Jerusalem and Jesus went into the Temple and began to drive out the people who were
buying and selling there. He threw down the tables of the money changers, and the chairs of those who sold
doves. He would not let anyone carry anything through the temple. And he taught the people, saying,
`Scripture says, "My house shall be called a house for all tribes and nations, where people talk with God, but
you have made it into a robbers’ den!” The chief priests and scribes heard what he said, and they wanted to
find some way to kill him. They feared Jesus because the people were carried away by his teaching.
Questions to Discuss:
Should he have managed his anger? Or was it necessary for Jesus’ survival at this point? Or for his
message? Was his action in the temple ASSERTIVE or AGGRESSIVE (or both?)
Discuss: “is anger ever good?”
What are the causes of anger?
Activity 2: Watch the YouTube clip – Anger Management
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Activity 3: How to Manage Anger
What strategies can be used to manage anger? Discuss in pairs then write below three things you could do
to help control your anger:
Closing Prayer:
God grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can
and the wisdom to know (and live) the difference.
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Lesson Objectives:
To explore what causes stress
To identify how we can become less stressed
To explore how we can achieve positive changes in our lives by changing the way we think.
Activity 1: What Causes Stress
List below the things that cause you stress:
Activity 2: Why do some people experience more stress than others?
Brainstorm answers on board.
Activity 3: Banish the Blues
In groups identify 2 or 3 strategies you think you might use in situations when you or your friends feel down
or anxious. Think of times in the past when you have felt low – what strategies have you used to lift yourself
up and banish the blues?
Activity 4: Discussion Topic
“You can’t change the way you are.” How true is this? Discuss briefly in small groups.
Closing Prayer:
Almighty God, you told us to come to you when we are weary and over-burdened and you will give us rest.
Help us in those moments when we feel anxious and stressed. Help us to see that you are always with us,
that you love us and care for us at all times and in all ways. Amen.
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Lesson Objectives:
Activity 1: The Pursuit of Happiness
Watch the YouTube clip ‘The Pursuit of Happiness’ (W/RME/How to be Happy/The Pursuit of Happiness). In
the box below circle the three phrases from the video that meant most for you.
I’m happy
because I’m alive
Love yourself first, then you
can love others
When you are happy, it’s contagious
Love makes you happy
A million dollars would make me happy
Be happy with what you have
A lot of people are rich and they’re miserable
Money can’t buy happiness - what happens when you’re lonely?
It’s a choice to be happy
Activity 2: Watch the YouTube Clip ‘Happy’
After this course do you think you now know better how to be happy?
What things might you do differently now?
What is the most important lesson you have learnt?
Activity 3: RME ILP
Your teacher will reissue the RME ILP sheet, giving you a list of the ten lessons on the course. Please
complete and return to your teacher.
Activity 4: Paraliturgy
Let us pause for a moment to prayerfully reflect upon our own lives.
Almighty God, we come before you now with all our faults and failings.
We ask for your forgiveness.
You have given us so much so far in our lives.
We count our blessings, and we thank you.
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You have given us all that we need to live life to the full
Lord, we thank you for the gifts you have given us.
You have asked us to follow you, and inspire others.
Help us to take care of one another.
You have created us perfect and given us countless spiritual riches.
May I be grateful for what I have, and happy with who I am.
We pray for all those in the world who are not happy – who suffer from depression and sadness, who are
addicted to drink and drugs, those in prison, those who mourn, those who dedicate their lives to the worship
of false gods such as power and money. May God’s peace be upon those who are anxious and in distress.
Let us remember now, in a moment of silence, those friends and members of our families who need our
Concluding Prayer:
Almighty God, we thank you for the time we have spent together on this course. May be learn that it is not
what we have that is important, but who we are. May you walk with us on our journey; all the days of our life
in your presence.
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