Space for Joy

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ankush-minda-VcD5OD2jDGA-unsplashHave you ever laughed so hard you cried? Can you remember the last time your eyes were soaked with tears because you were in a conversation that brought you so much joy?  I am not sure I can remember what I was talking about each of these times, but what I can remember is how I felt and who I was with. These are the moments that remind us how good life is.  One of our secretaries has a sign by her desk that reads,

“At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.”Maya Angelou

How do we bring joy, happiness and fun to our  jobs?  

Start With Gratitude

Each morning, part of my routine before jotting down goals is to list a few things that I am grateful for.  It is important to recognize how “Lucky” I am by considering how many things work out in life. Looking through a lens of gratitude definitely improves my outlook for the day. 

Notice the Things and People Around You

When you pay attention to life, it is actually quite interesting.  Paying attention to the interesting things people do and say adds depths to the moments in life.  Creating an environment that sparks joy is particularly important. I plan to continue adding quotes, pictures, and items that inspire me, and drive my energy level up.  Happiness can also be found when we observe kindness and creativity. It is incredibly fulfilling to celebrate the good other people are doing.

Remember:  Other People Matter

Living with an Other People Matter Mindset, challenges us to bring our best self to work.  Thinking of others gives us the opportunity to share kindness and be generous with our zest for life.  One of the most important things we can do is to grow our students into people that the world wants to be around.  It is our duty to make things a little better than we found them. That means, even when the days are long, we need to find a way to make the day more fun and inspire those around us.   

Ask Yourself the Tough Questions

Sometimes I like the answers, and sometimes I am embarrassed.  Recently, I have started asking myself,

Are you a person who people will choose to spend time with?

What about your personality is interesting and inspiring?

Are you fun to be around?

I am learning that it takes just as much energy to be grumpy as it does happy. 

Use Music

Music is awesome!  It raises my energy level, and makes me feel happy and empowered! Adding music when students enter the classroom, or are working on something makes the hour more enjoyable.  Our principal will also send out an email with a link to a song asking other people to share music that inspires them. This gesture certainly adds an element of fun to the day. 

Smile When You Don’t Feel Like It

It is important to smile and laugh a lot.  Recently I have found that the more I smile when I am running, the easier it gets to hold a pace. When I think about smiling, I am reminded of a quote from the movie Family Man, where Nicholas Cage looks at an old photograph of himself and says, “What are you smiling about?”  It is hard to hold onto negativity while you are smiling.  When I act like I want to feel, eventually the feeling comes.  I think it is good for our students to see us having fun at work.  It sets an example. Even if students don’t have aspirations to become future educators, it is important that they have an example of someone who is able to generate feelings of joy in any situation. 

Find the Pockets

While it is true that the job can certainly be stressful, it is our responsibility to find a way to have fun and enjoy the big moments, little moments, and all of the in between moments.  Time between classes and at lunch fill us up. Laughing and telling stories reminds us that we can have fun at work, and enjoy the people we spend so many hours with. It also gives us an opportunity for a brain break, and allows us to be in the moment.

Build Relationships With Everyone

Getting to know the staff on an individual level works.  Just as we want to find out things to talk to our students about, it is important to know a few specific things about the people you work with.  Follow up while standing at the copy machine, in the parking lot, or with a quick email about a future vacation, favorite football team, crazy little league schedule,  new puppy or TV show you both watch.   I have the most fun and feel the most connected when I have inside jokes, and shared experiences and conversations with each staff member. When I go through the staff list and realize that there are people whom I don’t have much in common with, or hardly know, I realize it is time to find a way to improve the relationship and get to know that person.

There is Space for Joy

peter-conlan-LEgwEaBVGMo-unsplashExcellence at work includes fun, happiness and joy.  There is space on even the craziest days for joy. In the end it won’t matter how many papers were graded, assessments tracked, and moments spent planning lessons.  What will matter is the space we made for joy and how we treated other people. When we can be a part of helping other people feel happiness, joy and experience fun on a regular basis, we will have done our part in making the world a little better than we found it. 

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