School’s back in session and you’re in control of your classroom climate. At the end of the day, it’s all about the attitude with which you approached it. How far will you take your students? An adage from motivational speaker and author Zig Ziglar sums it up: It’s your attitude that determines your altitude. But how do you stay up at a time when budgets are slashed, classes are over-crowded, and families are struggling to make ends meet? Can there possibly be power in something as simple as positive thinking?
The Power of Positive Thinking
Research says yes, there is. But, says Ziglar, motivation has to be part of your intentional daily routine: “When I speak, people will occasionally say…’Zig, I loved your talk, but for me, motivation doesn’t last!’ I always tell them…bathing doesn’t either. That’s why I recommend it daily.” So what simple strategies can we employ every day to muster up motivation for ourselves and share it with our school families? Are there concrete ways to maintain the momentum of a winning attitude? Let’s take a look.
Movement affects attitude. In the book Brain Rules, author John Medina claims that “physical activity is cognitive candy.” Sweet! I love candy, and apparently, so does my brain. Its chemistry thrives on movement. Professor Medina says that exercise can actually trigger the tiny proteins known as brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and act “like Miracle-Gro for the brain.” Music can also be used to change a person’s mood, and has the ability to strengthen or weaken emotions from a particular event. So next time you find yourself feeling less-than-positive, why not crank up some music and start moving? I suggest an upbeat song with uplifting lyrics, like Rose Falcon’s pop tune Up Up Up: “Rain falls, down on my parade, lemons into lemonade, won’t slow me down, no way no way. When life, puts you to the test, nothing better than your best . . . .”
The people you surround yourself with make a difference as well. According to Joyce Landorf Heatherly’s Balcony People, those people in life who energize others and cheer them on are part of an elite group called balcony people. Who are the Balcony people in your life? These people get plenty of sunshine for their daily doses of vitamin D; it’s a huge part of the reason for their contentedness. According to our friends at sunshinevitamin.org, humans spend less time in the sun today than at any point in human history, which is why more than one billion people worldwide are vitamin D deficient. Sunshine not only helps your mood, but as little as 15 to 20 minutes of sun twice a week can make a positive difference in your health. Water also affects mood. The Agricultural Research Service (ARS) recently found that dehydration is associated with negative mood, including fatigue and confusion, so ‘water’ you waiting for? Make a pact to stay hydrated and see how good it feels as your mood elevates.
Showing appreciation can also help your attitude. Why not keep a Blessings Book to help you cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Write in it every day and make time for your students to do the same. I make it a point to carry a blank thank-you card with me so that I can follow-up acts of kindness with a note of thanks or affirmation. Acts of kindness, both planned and random, also result in significant physical and mental health benefits. It just feels good to be appreciated. Want something even easier than that? Try smiling at people. Really, a simple smile with a cheerful greeting can benefit both the giver and the receiver by helping spirits soar.
The Dash, a beautiful poem by Linda Ellis that has touched the hearts of young and old alike, prompts the inquiry: How will you live your dash this school year, from August 2011 – May 2012? I hope you’ll seize every day and positively influence each and every student while you enjoy dancing together out on the balcony!
About the Author
A bilingual educator who was raised on her family’s farm in Wisconsin, Barbara Gruener has been the counselor and character coach at Westwood-Bales Elementary School in Friendswood, Texas for the past ten years. She’s also a motivational speaker and loves to influence and impact workshop participants in her signature Sing, Dance, Laugh and Build Character sessions. When she’s not at school, Barbara likes to write, read, knit, bake, and spend time with family and friends. Check out Barbara’s blog to read her inspirational stories about positive people and elevating experiences.