"Mom, they have absolutely nothing compared to our standards yet they smile, sing, praise, play games, and laugh more than anyone I've ever experienced." stated my oldest son insightfully. They have everything. Joy. Happiness. Gratitude and each other.
"Children just 4 years old walk with calloused bare feet 10 miles or more with their siblings to the closest feeding center. I see their ribs. I see their smile behind dirt smudged lips. They carry just a cup. The cup gets filled with beans. It's their only meal for the day. They are thankful for food we scoop out by the ladleful even though they walked miles and miles to get it and wait in line for minutes piled on minutes. After they eat, they laugh and play. Mostly, they want to hold your hand and hug. They are happy from the inside out. It doesn't matter that they won't eat again until this same time tomorrow. They are thankful. They show us with actions and tell us in their native tongue over and over again. They giggle gleefully while kicking a soccer ball and aren't concerned with a Smart phone or tablet. Those items are foreign to them. We're foreign to them but they welcome us with smiles and their arms reaching up toward us. We pick them up. They hug tightly. Mom, their actions transformed me."
My oldest son had just returned from 14 days of living on soil floors with soiled hands. He constructed buildings, played with children, fed children, taught children, sang and swam morning to night at an orphanage in Nicaraga. It was a pivotal experience in his life. He came back from the land of stripped trees and low economy with new found gratitude.
Now I don't think we have to have a mission trip epiphany to realize the profound effect of gratitude in our lives. We experience it. Time and time again, research points out happy people are thankful people. The thanking came first.
It takes being intentional to be thankful especially when our circumstances scream gloom. Being thankful in all circumstances is a choice just like my son discovered when he spent 14 days with children who didn't know what they were missing. They were just grateful for what they had. Wouldn't it be wonderful to approach each day with this child-like appreciation?
How about waking up each day saying, "Yay! It's morning! I'm thankful for another day!"? How do you think the rest of the day would go? Our first thoughts set the tone for the day. Let them be grateful.
A surefire way to go from overwhelmed to thriving is to take time to thank. A while back, I had three difficult teaching years in a row. The kind that knotted my stomach daily the minute I pulled into the school parking lot. The daily struggle of kids throwing furniture, kicking, yelling, and hurting others all while I needed to get them on grade level in reading almost did me in mentally and physically. Some days the only positive I could find was the smile of one, that one child. But I clung to it. I was thankful. Those three years are in my rear view mirror. It's not as painful now because I'm not in the midst of the struggling circumstances (the thick of it), but I've learned there is no great lesson learned without a struggle. I'm thankful for those three years. They grew me to be a better teacher and human. So, be thankful in all circumstances.
STRONG educators take time to thank.
1. Daily Trio
Every day think of three things in which you are grateful.
2. Thank Three People
Write three thank you notes a day or a week. You can write them the old-fashioned way on a card or send them through a text or direct message. You can also send them through an e-mail or e-card. The method doesn't matter. Your heart does. Be intentional about thanking others and feel joy.
3. Write in a gratitude journal
Keep a gratitude journal. Establish a daily habit of writing down your daily trio. Write down three things you're thankful for. Some days I fill up pages and pages. I just can't stop at three. Other days it's a struggle to come up with three things. But when I do, I feel better. The best part of a gratitude journal is it is something you can revisit. I love to revisit and see all the ways life has been good to me and my family.
Today's daily trio:
I'm thankful for you. Community.
I'm thankful for my health and family (Even though my husband irritated me this week.) :)
I'm thankful for flowers. They always make me smile.
Grab hold of a gratitude attitude!
Grab your free gratitude journal page here. (Print as many as you like, but start today.)
This is part 3 of a 7 part series: STRONG Educators
Read the others here:
Part 4- STRONG Educators Rest & Revive
Part 5- STRONG Educators Omit Negative
Part 6- STRONG Educators Never Give UP
Part 7- STRONG Educators Go Deeper
It takes 30 days to establish a habit pattern. (It actually takes longer to solidify the habit, but we'll save that for another time.) So just for you, we're going to do a 30 day challenge to stay STRONG and help you re-enter school STRONG. (Whenever it re-opens.)
Here's how it works:
It's for you and like-minded educators. Connection for students is key but also for you. Educators need connections too. It's a community.
It's totally free.
Each week, I'll write a post reminding you to stay STRONG focusing on one of the letters in the word STRONG.
Share and cheer each other on by sharing your STRONG stories. Share a picture or some words each day of how you are staying STRONG for yourself, your family, and your students. What you do will inspire others to do it too. :)
Share this with a friend so they are connected too.
Have fun and belong to a community of STRONG educators. (#STRONGedu)
You are STRONG educators! We are stronger together. Come along. We want you with us.
Remember to share pictures on Instagram and Twitter telling us how you were STRONG for the day.
Looking forward to seeing you being STRONG and staying STRONG.
You make a difference.
P.S. Sign up for tips by going to the home page and adding email to the "Inspire Me" box. Don't want email tips coming to your inbox. No problem.
Join the fun and community on Instagram and Twitter. Be sure to use #STRONGedu.