I was recently hired as an adjunct professor at a small liberal arts university to teach courses in the Master’s of Education program. This is an opportunity that I could simply not be more excited about. I have six courses looming between the summer of 2017 and the spring of 2018, which at times feels a bit daunting, but also exhilarating and inspiring. My first course, which began this past Thursday, is in the field of positive psychology.
Admittedly, I am a relative newcomer to the fields of positive psychology and the regrettably-named field of positive education, though my doctorate in character education provides lots of overlap, and I was familiar with most of the material before taking the assignment. One of the things we’re focusing on in our class on positive education is the notion of flourishing, which is best explained in Martin Seligmans book titled Flourish. Therein, as well as on the UPenn Positive Psychology Center web page and in numerous other places, one can find thorough explanations of the empirically backed notion that things like perseverance, grit, love, gratitude, and many more strengths, can be developed and taught, can be scientifically measured, and can help all people to live healthier, better lives. I won’t go into much further detail at this point, but I’d be happy to point you to a reading list or a few good TED talks if you’re interested in learning more.
Thursday’s class was a huge success. Without fail my students were engaged, thoughtful, committed, open-minded, and ready to pursue a rigorous course of study. As a teacher, this is all one can ever hope for. In yesterday’s lessons, we studied the notion of love, as a scientific and quantifiable concept, but we began by writing down the last three things we said we’d loved. Our collective lists featured lots of parents, some significant others, dogs, cats, baseball, and various food items, which, though obvious, lead to fruitful conversation. My own list consisted of the following:
- My wife
- My children
- “This Cabernet”
I had, the night before, decided to pull the cork on this Abeja 2014 Cab Sauv, and I was utterly enamored with it. This was the second vintage in a row I’ve tried from the small Columbia Valley producer, and is poised to feature once again in my “Great American Cab Review” for the coming year. The current vintage, 2014, is equally stunning to the 2013, which I so loved last year. Bold and full in body with flawless deep Cabernet color and an inviting nose, what really lunges out at me once again are the ornate and diverse patterns of spices that linger amidst the more obvious dark purple and black fruit flavors. Those spices, ranging from hints of cinnamon to ginger bread to something I couldn’t quite place — thyme? sage? — are what makes Abeja so incredible to me. A few more vintages like this one and I may be ready to proclaim this my favorite Cabernet of all time, which, given my love of Cabernet, would be quite a statement.
One of the things we discuss in positive psychology and positive education is the notion of gratitude. Gratitude is fast becoming a lost art, though it has admittedly experienced something of a renaissance of late. Gratitude is the realization and expression of thankfulness for what we have. I told my students yesterday that when I pray these days, it is only ever to say thanks. I told them further that I am grateful for their presence and dedication to our class, and for the opportunity I have to teach it. These things are true, but saying them aloud, especially to those to whom I am grateful, is meaningful both to them and to me, and indeed contributes to my own ability to flourish.
Further, I am reminded that I am grateful for the opportunity I have to write this blog, to samples incredible wines like this one, and to relax after a long day with my wonderful family and share a glass of terrific Cabernet. No, I am not as grateful for good Cabernet as I am for the health of my children or the serenity of our lives at the present time, but it does contribute to the overall big picture and help me to enjoy — and to appreciate — my life a little more. I hope you’ll try this excellent wine and I hope that, like me, you’ll be truly grateful that you have the opportunity.