Sunday, November 7, 2010

Finding Joy in Your Circumstances

Over the past several months I have found myself surrounded by people with nothing positive to say about their circumstances. They gripe and complain about everything from the weather to students, from parents to the administration. I tried to not let it affect me, but that is easier said than done. I found myself caught in the middle of all the negativity, and over time it took its toll on me. Before long I discovered that my attitude toward everything began to take on a new look, and I didn't like that new look one bit. I'd come home from school feeling like I'd fought a losing battle, and I'd find myself complaining to my husband about everything. I hated going to work. I hated what I did. I hated the idea that I'd be "stuck" in the classroom for the next several years. I couldn't find the joy that I'd once known from being in the classroom. I had let the negativity of others steal the joy in my life. Then one morning I woke up and a revelation hit me like a ton of bricks...I can't change my circumstances, but I CAN change the way I deal with them.

That was a new day for me. By changing how I think about and respond to my circumstances, I started a slow healing process. Now, when negative thoughts start to invade my mind and bring me down, I look for something positive to focus on instead. When others make negative comments about their students, the parents, or the administration, I either choose to walk away, or better yet, counter with something positive instead. I've even gone so far as to tell a colleague who was complaining about how her lack of motivation stemmed from our lack of good leadership that THAT was a cop out. Motivation comes from within, not from others. She didn't like my bluntness, but eventually came back to thank me for reminding her that joy comes from within, not from her circumstances.

Changing my focus from the negatives to the positives has made all the difference. No longer do I dread Monday mornings. No longer do I allow myself to get caught up in the negative gossip of my colleagues. No longer do I come home feeling like I've fought a hard fight and lost. It's not always easy, but at least I'm more pleasant to be around. But best of all, I've rediscovered the joy in teaching that I'd allowed others to strip away. Each day brings new challenges, but I'm much better equipped to face them now than I was a few months ago.

Below is an excerpt from a great blog post by Dave Navarro that was originally posted on about how to take control of your moods. It is a great post that fits well with the life-lesson I've learned. Please allow me to reprint a portion of it here.

Using A Framework to Escape From Paralyzing Emotions

A: AGREE With Yourself That You Don’t Want To Be In This Mood Right Now.
C: CLARIFY The Mood or Emotion You Want To Move Towards
T: TAKE Responsibility For Taking Immediate Action.
F: “What Would I Need To FOCUS On To Feel this Way?”
A: “What Would I Need To ACT On To Feel The Way I Want To?”
S: “What Would I Need To SURROUND Myself With To Feel The Way I Want To?”
T: “What Would I Need To TELL Myself To Feel The Way I Want To?”

* If you ask yourself, “Why me?” or “What can I possibly do?” you‘re going to be paralyzed.
* If you ask yourself “What can I do next, from where I am, with what I have,” you’re going to put yourself in a position of strength.
* Ask better questions. Train yourself to be the sculptor of your moods, rather than being tossed about by urgency and externalities you can’t control.

To read the full article, click here.

As you go through each day, remember this:

No one can MAKE you feel anything. You decide how you interpret the stimuli. You may not be able to change your circumstances, but you CAN change the way you deal with them.

1 comment:

  1. What a wonderful post! Thanks for all the reflective questions and ideas to find joy in our circumstances! Great resources!
    Sioux City, IA