Friday, January 17, 2020

Finding Contentment in the Present

If only.

If only my students would talk less or speak up more. If only they were more motivated and engaged. If only they'd stay off their phones and be more focused. If only I were at a bigger school or a smaller school. If only the demographics were different. If only I could teach another grade or subject area. If only parents were more involved or less involved (both extremes can be challenging). If only I had more resources or more support. If only.

It's easy to be present when things are good. But when you're not content with the present, if you're like me, you may just want to run away. While we can't always pick up and leave, it's easy to run away mentally and emotionally and the "if only" thoughts kick in. And while this may seem benign, it may actually be destructive. In running away, we rob ourselves of the opportunity to impact the present and make lasting change.

Whether your challenges are unexpected, underestimated or consequences of our choices, the only way to get through is to go through - to be present in the moment. Here are some questions that I ask myself to help find contentment so I can stay present and live out my word for 2020.
  • What's good? No one or nothing is all bad. We can usually find something good in even the worst situations. If it's not obvious, dig. I find that when I force myself to find something positive, I'll usually see lots of good things I've missed out on because I've been focusing on the negative.
  • What small changes can I make? Is there a routine or strategy that can be tweaked? Is there something you can start doing, do differently or stop doing? If those research-based practices that worked in the past no longer produce results, it may be time to ditch them. Reach out to your colleagues and don't be afraid to try something new. But think small. One small change can make all the difference. Watch "212 - The Extra Degree."
  • What must I accept? Work with what you've got and pick your battles. We can't always control our circumstances, but we can control our approach and our reactions. As educators, we need to be flexible. There's lots that happens in and around school that is beyond our control and there are some things we have no choice but to accept. Will it matter in 20 years? If not, move on.
Contentment helps us to give our best even when life is not. Like corrective lenses, it helps us see things a little bit more clearly and helps us make the most of today so that tomorrow is a little brighter for ourselves and others.

1 comment:

  1. This is a great concise post with the relevant reminder to practice pause, be thankful, and bloom where we are planted. Thank you.