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  • Robert Dunlop

Postive Realities

Today I want to share an activity that has had an incredible impact on my happiness in education. Before I share it with you, I would like to give you some context to where I discovered it.

I was struggling to find happiness in education to the point I was on the verge of changing careers. Something had happened at the beginning of the year that made me feel undervalued and disrespected. From that point on it was a downward spiral to the point that I wanted to leave. My wife was watching me struggle through this tough year and was looking for a way to help.

So one day she came home and recommended that I read the book, Before Happiness by Shawn Achor. I had read one of his other books and liked it, so I thought I would give it a try. The first chapter literally changed the way I saw the world. He talked about how subjective reality is. I never really thought of reality as being subjective before. I just thought that was what was going on in my world. He went on to say that Happy and Successful people are able to create multiple realities of the same situations and choose that one that will have the most positive effect on their lives.

I played with this idea in my head for a bit then went to bed. When I woke up and looked out my window my eyes filled with tears. It is hard to explain, but I feel like I was able to see a different reality than I was seeing for months. I had been so focused on all the negative and allowing this to snowball on me, I could not see any positives. That was the reality I had chosen to create. But that morning, I could finally see again the relationship I had fostered, the impact I was having and the skills I was developing. It was a whole new reality, a positive reality.

Since discovering this I feel empowered and use this strategy all the time. For instance, one of my CoVid Teaching realities was that I work much more, I get 200 plus emails a day, I have to make a lot of stressful decisions and I need to also support my own children’s virtual learning. This one leaves me feeling stressed, worn down and frustrated.

My other CoVid Reality is that it is exciting to be able to support so many educators and be an important part of our board's virtual plans. I feel valued and love using the skills I have developed. As a parent, I feel more connected to my child's learning than ever!

This one leaves me feeling inspired, motivated and much happier!

Both of these are entirely true statements; they just take different perspectives. What we chose to focus on plays an incredible role in the way we see things.

To try this, find a situation that you are struggling with and see if you can write multiple realities of that same situation. This can be done independently or you might choose to try this as part of a staff meeting when discussing students or school issues.

This activity can also be used in the class to help students see different perspectives and points of view. Give students a situation and see if they can create different realities, then select the one that has the most positive outcome. Explain to them how this can be done to help them find more happiness.

Thanks for joining us, and remember to Strive for happiness in Education, you deserve it!

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