Making Happiness a Priority
My name is Rob Dunlop and I have been working alongside Dr. Deanna Swift to create this program designed to positively impact educator well-being.
We believe that now more than ever we need to make educator happiness and well-being a priority. We believe that there is nothing more powerful than an educator that loves coming to school each day and we believe that our students need and deserve educators who are healthy, positive and happy.
This program has been designed to help educators develop and maintain a positive mindset through these tougher times. Each month we will be releasing a new video and theme. The theme for this month is making Happiness a Priority. The goal is to help educators to develop more awareness around their own happiness in the profession and to connect or reconnect them to aspects of education that will bring them more joy and happiness.
The three main idea we want to emphasize are;
That our happiness is more in our control that we think
We can create positive realities that make us happier
Our beliefs and purpose play a crucial role in our happiness
So let’s get into it! I speak openly about the struggles that I have had to stay motivated and happy in education. It is not an easy job and it can wear you down over time if you let it. To be honest I never really stopped to think about my happiness in the profession until it was almost too late. It felt like one day I woke up and was frustrated and cynical, and that was the new me.
Often now when I work with educators, I try to get them to think about how happy they are. Having this awareness motivates them to make changes and to search for more happiness. Several of the activities we have added this month are designed to do just this. Get you thinking about how happier you are in education. Just knowing this has made an incredible difference my the love I have of my job! I wish I had done this earlier.
Unfortunately, I did not and I hit a fork in the road where I either need to leave the profession or find a way to reignite my passion.
It was at the point I realized I need to make my happiness a priority. As I learned more about happiness and positive psychology, I began to feel empowered and in control again. One statistic that has had the greatest impact on me came from the book The How of Happiness by Sonja Lyubomirsky. She said that 50% of our happiness is determined by genetics, 10% by circumstance and 40% is within our control.
As I reflected more and more on these stats, I realized that it was not the circumstances that were making me so unhappy, it was every decision I was making after something did not go my way that was having the greatest impact. Just knowing this statistic empowers me to deal with struggles in a much more positive and productive manner.
One thing that I have learned to control that has had the greatest impact on my happiness is the narratives I create in my head. The stories I tell myself. When I was struggling these stories were designed to fuel my frustration and deepen my disconnect. However, as I learned more about how subjective reality can be and how these realities are created from what I chose to focus on, I was able to turn them into positive realities that inspired and motivated me. Let me give you an example.
Here is one entirely true reality of the impact of CoVid on my job:
My reality is that I get to juggle 200 emails a day, minimum of 3 virtual calls, create resources, homeschool two children, start early and finish late.
However, here is my positive reality that is equally true.
My reality is that my days go by so fast and I have become a key figure in our board’s remote learning plan and I am developing skills that I did not have before (ie. presenting virtually) and I get to see my family more than ever.
By choosing to focus on the positives, I now wake up inspired and motivated. Once you learn that you have control over your reality, you can begin to change the narratives you tell yourself and see the world and profession in a much more positive way.
Throughout the month, try to write down different realities of the same situation. Focus on the reality that brings you the most happiness and gives you hope for the future.
The last idea we would like to leave you with is the importance of connecting or reconnection to your purpose and why you became a teacher. This is one of the most powerful things an educator can do.
I am part of team who runs a leadership program for educators who want to lead in the system, however do not wish to be administrators. We invest a fair amount of time in the program reconnecting educators to WHY they entered the profession. At the end of the program when we share our greatest take aways, many of the educators well up when they share how they lost their WHY they teach and how great it feels to make that a focus again.
I believe that it is easy in education to become very WHAT focussed, what teaching strategies we use, what technology we use, what curriculum we are covering. However, if we want to remain happy and love our students, we need to always shift back to WHY we became educators.
Hopefully, the activities for this month will help you to become more aware of your happiness, empower you to take control and see the positives in your life and help you to reconnect to WHY you became an educator.