Your Happiness Matters: How To Give Yourself A Boost
January isn’t the easiest time to be happy. Maybe you’re not where you want to be right now in your teaching journey. Maybe you’re not happy living in the middle of nowhere with very few friends and family close by, and maybe you feel like you’re not making a difference in the lives of your students. Maybe your New Year’s resolutions have already puttered out.
You are not alone. Your happiness is important, and will help make you the best teacher you can be. (As my MTLD always says, ‘A happy teacher is a good teacher.’) The key to happiness is finding what MAKES YOU HAPPY. Not your roommate happy, not your principal happy, not even your students happy. YOU.
So before you go banging your head against the wall stressing over how you’re going to get your tracker up to snuff by June, take a minute and think about where you find your happiness. We are responsible for ‘pulling our own happiness wagon,’ and sometimes that means going on a wild goose chase to find it. Sometimes it means we have to leave our comfort zones to find out what else is out there, and what else can bring us joy. Sometimes this joy comes from outside the four walls of our school and classroom.
Here are a few suggestions to try out that make me happy in close-to-the-middle-of-nowhere, USA:
- Reading my letter of intent in my TFA application. Every rough day I had last year, I read my letter of intent from my TFA application. Each time I read it, I’m reminded of why I wanted to join TFA in the first place. It always reignites my fire for teaching and for my students. There’s something about it that is so simple, and makes the world’s issues sound easily solvable. Unfortunately, being inside the education system, and not a distant outsider, I feel more jaded about the future of education in our country. But reading my statement always settles my heart, ground my thoughts, and makes me happy.
- Join a gym and exercise. The endorphins are the best stress reliever.
- Go to the nearest ‘big city’ on weekends to go out to dinner, shop, or go to a bar. It’s nice exposure to other adults.
- Read a book. No, nothing about teaching or social justice, something for fun. I personally recommend Tina Fey’s BossyPants. I have never laughed so hard reading a book.
- Spend more time with people, less time online. Personal relationships trump online ones any day.
- Make lists. I have a little notebook that I write ‘to do’s’ in every night before I go to bed – it helps my brain shut off so I can sleep soundly. I’m less tired and happier!
- Remind yourself you are not alone. I love this list of“21 Secrets for your 20s.” Even if you’re not in your 20s, these are helpful tips for all ages.
- Spend time outside of your bedroom. It’s important to have your own space to retreat to, but it can quickly turn from your paradise to your prison. Frequent the kitchen and family room to interact with other human beings. I have found locking myself up gives me too much silence to let my mind wander.
- Beg, borrow and steal. From other teachers at your school and from the internet. Re-creating the wheel is really hard and time consuming. Save your time and
- Separate work life and personal life. Leave your work at school – stay until it’s done, and don’t bring it home! Enjoy your evenings to yourself.