If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know that flourishing at work is not a solo endeavour. The number one predictor of happiness is strong social connections, and what’s one of the best ways to connect with your colleagues? Sharing a cup of coffee.
A very short history of coffee
Coffee has a long history of connecting people face to face in a meaningful way. Coffee houses started to emerge in Europe in the mid-1600s. They were hubs for men to come together to share ideas, get information and debate the issues of the day.
London’s first coffee house opened in 1652 and within 50 years the total number had grown to around 2000. They were popular with the new generation of philosophers, Christopher Wren, Sir Isaac Newton, and Edmund Halley, who contributed to their fame as Penny Universities because in exchange for one penny (quite a lot of money at the time) you got a bottomless cup of coffee and the chance to listen to the surrounding intellectual debate.
Your staffroom might, or might not, provide quite the same level of intellectual rigor, but sitting down and sharing a cup of coffee will still provide an opportunity to connect socially, as well as some surprising brain health boosts.
The health benefits of having a coffee
Coffee often gets bad press, but studies have shown there are a lot of brain benefits associated with drinking coffee. These include:
- Boosts mental alertness and focus: great for when you’re in need of a boost first thing in the morning, before your teach Year 8 or around the 4pm slump.
- Increases oxygen and nutrient flow to the brain: this can mean that you’re more energetic, more alert and have faster reaction times all of which can come in very handy when you’re dodging footballs on playground duty!
- Stimulates long term memory retention after learning: helpful for when you’re trying to teach yourself something new
- Boosts dopamine levels so that you feel good: meaning it might be just the reward you need after getting through that tough lesson or meeting.
Happy teachers drink coffee?
There’s no magic bullet for getting happy at work, and different things will work for different people, but there are key areas that you can focus on to improve your level of work happiness, and one of them is forging high quality connections with your colleagues.
The feeling of belonging, and of being appreciated, valued and cared for, is core to our need as human beings. Ed Diener and Martin Seligman’s Very Happy People Study (2002), identified that there was only one characteristic that distinguished the happiest 10% from everybody else: the strength of their social relationships. If you want to be a happy teacher, give some thought to building high quality connections at school: when greeting colleagues look them in the eye and smile; when you have the chance, ask interested questions; schedule face to face meetings instead of sending emails and initiate conversations that aren’t always work oriented…perhaps over a cup of coffee?