Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Attitude of Gratitude

 It's Wednesday, and not quite the middle of a very long week.  You see, tomorrow is parent conferences, so the lights will be burning after school - and into the dark of night, as we meet to discuss with mom and dad exactly what might help junior succeed this semester.

For teachers, conferences subconsciously signals to us that we should KNOW these kids, what they need, what they try to pull, and when and how to push them to success.  Some kids come with instructions -- aka IEPs -- that help us to know how to best serve their unique learning needs.  For others, well, it's a little more like assembling a product from China with directions translated from the original language. 
 

+2

As I mentioned on Monday, this week has taken an exceptionally strong dip when it comes to happiness, and finding happiness in the face of adversity -- even if it is adversity by association -- is difficult. For some parents, the news will bring a smile to their faces, for others, well, they may be wringing more than their hands at the end of the evening.  So yes, the positive psychology skills apply equally well to delivering news to parents AND communicating with students.

I am a TED Talk junky, and another of my favorite TED Talks is by Rita Pierson, who talks about the importance of relationships and positivity.  I love her illustration of giving a quiz where a student misses 18 out of the 20 possible points.  What does she mark on the paper?  +2.  "....+2  You got two right, you didn't miss them all!  Minus 18 sucks all the life out of you.  + 2 says I ain't all bad."

 I have an unusual job, and am fortunate to be teaching concepts of happiness to three separate classes, which is allowing me, perhaps, a little more optimism in a pretty pessimistic environment.  As part of the Happiness study, my students are currently working on tracking their own happiness levels while participating in 21 consecutive days of meditating, or journaling, or exercising, or practicing random acts of kindness, or expressing gratitude.  I've decided to journal, in my own way, by resuming the blog on a daily basis, focusing on the positives of my day.  Over the weekend, I challenged friends on Facebook to join us, if only in an attempt to survive the next two weeks of election season!

The 21 Days to Happiness group is holding each other accountable -- you are welcome to join by following the link -- and today this post appeared:

What brings you lasting happiness? For me gratitude is the essential key to happiness. Not things, not people, but being honestly thankful for everything. Even in my worst times the shear act of gratitude will totally change my experience into a peaceful experience.
Just putting that out there.~Karla

Karla isn't the only one thriving on the high that is gratitude.  And in order to be grateful for someone else, you need, well, SOMEONE else.  Think about it.   Even if you are grateful for your Kuerig first thing in the morning, it's entirely appropriate to be thanking that Ethiopian goat herder, Kaldi, for munching on those berries many years ago.  If you're grateful for a job, chances are darned good that you were hired by a person, if it's because your mail was delivered on time the gratitude goes to those who face the rain and sleet and dark of night to complete those appointed rounds.

So give it a try now.  Open an email and send a note telling them how much they impacted your life.  It will definitely make at least two people a bit happier -- you, and the recipient.

.... And no, I don't think Kaldi has an email address.