July 13, 2011

On Choosing to be Happy

CHOICES.  We make them constantly.  Coffee or tea?  Pants or shorts?  Oatmeal or cereal?  Expressway or local roads?  Soup or salad?  I think we are bombarded with so many choices every second that we don't even recognize that some other things ARE a choice at all.  

As a teacher, I talk a lot about choices on a daily basis:

Was it a good choice to push your classmate?
What might a better choice have been?
Because you chose not to do your homework at home, you can choose to make it up with me at recess or after school.  It’s your choice.
Was it a good idea to choose to listen to your neighbor during the math lesson instead of me?

We constantly remind kids, “YOU are in charge of YOU.”  We attempt to train them to make positive choices and to take responsibility for their actions.  But we don’t always follow that advice.
When I’m frustrated about school, it’s tempting to play the Blame Game.  My job would be easier if…

…their parents cared.
…if the kids had better manners.
…if I had more help in my classroom.
…if I made more money.
…if my principal supported me more.

At a fantastic workshop I had the privilege to attend this summer, the presenter talked about the idea that, just as we need our kids to own their actions, thoughts, words, and feelings, we need to take responsibilities for ourselves too.  She told us to constantly remind ourselves, 
I am in charge of ME.

No more making excuses for ourselves or blaming our problems on exterior factors.  It’s time to take control, accept the hand we’ve been dealt, and play it the best we can.  I forget sometimes that I while I can't choose to have more support in my classroom, I can choose how I react to the situation I have.  This speaker said we need to choose to STOP being frustrated in the classroom, choose to STOP getting angry when kids don't follow directions, and choose to love our kids and do our best every day.  Even our feelings and emotions are really choices.  Yes, things do happen TO us--but it's how we choose to respond to them that counts.
Because my lives in and out of the classroom have VERY blurry boundaries, today I’m thinking about this idea in terms of my running.  And injury.  And the fact that running and injury are two words that always seem to be in the same breath for me.  Yes, I have a new injury.  
And I’m not sure that my half-marathon goal in 1 month is going to happen.  Or, even if I end up being able to run it, I'm not sure that it is a good idea.  I will go into detail another time...but for now I’ve decided to take control and play the hand I’ve been dealt.  I took yesterday to complain and wallow and cry.  Today I’m turning over a new leaf.  I am CHOOSING to make peace with this situation and CHOOSING to make safe choices for my body.

I am choosing not to blame my body for injuries, and instead to listen to it and give it the rest and TLC it needs right now.  
I am choosing not to be angry, because that won’t heal my body.  
I am choosing not to be stupid and run through pain, because that will only leave me with worse problems.  
I am choosing to evaluate my running and training.  
I am choosing to be at peace with the idea that this is just ONE RACE, and accepting that if my body can’t handle it right now, there will be others in the future.  It’s not worth hurting my body.   
Most of all, I’m choosing to be happy.  

^In the end, it’s this choice that matters most.  I don’t have to like my situation, but I am choosing NOT to wallow in self-pity and regret and “it’s the end of the world”-style drama.  I’m choosing to stay positive.

*Deep breath*

What important *choices* have you made lately?

How do you choose to stay positive when things are rough?


  1. I have been on a quest to make the choice to be positive as often as possible. Something really terrible has happened in my life recently that I refuse to dwell on (or really talk about to anyone but The Husband) because I can't change it. It saddens me and boggles my mind, but I absolutely have the choice to dwell on it and let it drive me crazy -- or control what I can and that is me. It is a huge breath of fresh air for me to realize that I don't have to let external things bother me anymore. It's absolutely a choice and one I am glad I finally learned to make.

    One of the best ways I have found recently to stay positive is think about something I have done well. Doesn't matter what that something is or how big/small. Just something I have succeeded at. It reminds me that while the current situation might make it seem like the world is going to end, it won't and I am good at [whatever I'm frustrated with]. :)

  2. Oh this sounds so familiar. Hang in there. Love you.

  3. Thank you SO much for this post! I think I need to bookmark it!!

  4. Yes, I wrote something similar a week or so ago because I have spent a lot of time this summer wallowing in self-pity because I'm not fast enough, thin enough, etc. (I do this every summer because I have all that extra time on my hands when schools out).

    I chose to let it go and move on to a more positive outlook. I struggle with it everyday, but like you said, it's a choice. The positive attitude is paying off. I just have to CHOOSE to see how.

  5. Oh noooooo... i am sorry injury is rearing its ugly head in a new place :( But learning from and listening to our bodies is so so so important. Sounds like your head is totally in the right place :) Wishing you the very, very best!

  6. This is a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing! I hope that whatever this injury is, it heals quickly. You are right, though...there are other races and you have to listen to your body. Take care of yourself.

  7. Best post ever! Thank you so much for sharing this. It is such a great reminder that we cannot blame our problems or our reactions to our problems on outside factors. Absolutely love it!

  8. I am a new follower of yours and fellow teacher! I really appreciate this post. Sometimes it is easy to fall into the BLAME game as a teacher. I find myself doing it alllll the time. I always tell myself I should stop and look to see what I can do to fix a problem instead of feeding the first. This was encouragement! Thanks! :)

  9. What a great post and reminder that we have the choice to be happy regardless of the situation. I hope you injury heals soon and you can continue reaching your goals. You are right. It is better to be safe and take care of that awesome body. Thanks for sharing that today. It was very encouraging!!

  10. This reminds me so much of The Happiness Project, which I am reading now. It really changes the perspective we have on looking at things.

    I wonder if I would have had a better first year teaching if I would have chosen to look at/handle my situation better. I think it can be difficult because even choosing to handle things better (ie. asking for help more, etc.) causes us to often go out of our comfort zone, which is never fun. I hope I can keep this mindset throughout this year.

    Good luck with everything!

  11. Thanks for the encouraging post! I hope that I can remember to stay positive tomorrow as I work in my classroom-I went the other night to arrange my classroom desks and got VERY frustrated! :) Trying to squeeze 24 6th grade desks into a 20 X 22 room with all of my other stuff-let's just say when I left the desks were still not arranged. :) SO-tomorrow I am going to stay postive, remember I am in control of how I react to the situation, and do what I know I can do-MOVE THE DESKS OUT IN THE HALL!!!!! :)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...