There have probably been many blog posts using the words to this catchy tune, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy,” and for good reason! Most of us are in the habit of worrying, stressing, over-thinking, and focusing on the negative. As you head into a new year and back to school, what is your focus? Are you worried about facing the same problems you faced at the end of last semester or facing new problems? Are you dreading certain tasks or maybe certain children? How do you change your focus from the negative to the positive? Why is it so hard to stop worrying and to just be happy?
Well… you might argue that there are academic standards to be met, behavioral expectations, and character issues to be faced. We can’t just sit back and let things happen as they may. We have to think about those tasks we don’t want to do and those children that challenge us daily. But, we don’t have to let them “ruin our day.”
In her book, Awakened: Change Your Mindset to Transform Your Teaching, Angela Watson writes:
“Often people believe that stress comes from external sources, such as a disrespectful student or an overly demanding administrator. However, your perception of those events— the way you think about them— is what determines whether you feel stressed or not.
Have you ever thought about that? It’s not the situation that causes us stress, it’s our response that invokes misery! So, how do you choose a more positive outlook on the challenges that face you? Your first step is to just acknowledge that you have a choice.
“The only factor that you have complete control over is your mindset: the way YOU think and perceive things, and the way YOU choose to respond. If you want to create meaningful and lasting change … the best place to start is with your own thought patterns and attitude.”
So as you encounter challenges and problems, be aware of your perceptions and responses. If you have a negative reaction, ask yourself how you can reframe your thoughts. How can you face this challenge in a more positive way?
If this is an area where you struggle or if you would like to learn more about reframing your thoughts, there is a Facebook group called The Educator’s Book Club that will be reading Angela’s book beginning on January 4. This book is not just for teachers. I have used her suggestions at work, at home, and in all my interactions. Angela may even pop in to say “Hi!” Feel free to jump in at any time. They are also reading (you can read either or both books) a book called Deliberate Optimism by Debbie Thompson Silver.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. Philippians 4:8