The Challenge of Performing is the Catalyst for Experiencing Authentic Positive Emotions

By Jason Tait (May 7, 2020)

TASIS provides opportunities for our students to experience positive emotions and to develop the ability to be optimistic and view the past, present, and future from a positive perspective. 

Being able to focus on positive emotions is more than just smiling; it is the ability to be optimistic and view the past, present, and future from a positive perspective. Distinguishing between pleasure and enjoyment is important. Pleasure is connected to satisfying bodily needs for survival such as thirst, hunger, and sleep whereas enjoyment comes from intellectual stimulation and creativity. For example, when a child completes a complex lego car that requires his concentration, he will be beaming with joy and satisfaction from his work.

TASIS seeks to provide the opportunity for our students to experience positive emotions as often as possible. The extensive sport/activity, arts, and performing arts programs at TASIS is a great example of how we look to foster the benefits of positive emotions. Our hope is that, through their intrinsically motivated participation, our students find life-changing moments of joy, satisfaction, and confidence, from having their artwork displayed in the Fleming Gallery to performing on stage, in a music concert, or on the courts and playing fields of TASIS. The challenge of performing is authentic for our students and is no more real than the immense sense of satisfaction, joy, and pride taken from weeks of practice and rehearsals culminating in an end-of-season tournament, concert, or opening night.

Our investment and belief in the importance of this program are illustrated by our "no cut policy" and the related recognition of the benefits of this policy by our student body.

Underpinning all such moments is the inherent belief that TASIS should stimulate and challenge all students to find genuine enjoyment and satisfaction from a challenging task or activity in their learning journey. This type of positive emotion is needed, as when someone enjoys the tasks in their lives they are more likely to persevere and battle challenges through creative and alternative solutions. People who regularly experience positive emotions tend to be more creative, more resilient (able to bounce back effectively after setbacks), have a healthier stress response, be better at goal-setting, have higher levels of self-efficacy, and are typically less self-critical. For these reasons, the arts, performing arts, and sport will always be an inherent part of TASIS and integral to the development of happy, confident, and resilient students.

As with all of the blogs in this series, we will leave the last word to the wisdom and certainty of Mrs. Fleming:

“Two men looked out from prison bars: One saw mud and one saw stars.”

I still have no idea where that quote comes from (source: Rev. Frederick Langbridge, English poet and religious writer), but it often comes into my own mind for it embodies such a powerful idea in such a few words. It contains indeed a whole philosophy of life, one we could all live by – the belief in the search for what is highest and for beauty, the need for beauty and nobility in our lives as the only weapons with which to fight the ugly and degrading. And I speak not only of visual or aesthetic beauty but beauty of spirit, of the heart of the human person, one’s whole attitude towards life.

Speech to students and parents, 1997