Friday Two Cents: It Is Within Me


 

This past week has been a busy one to say the least. It started with 100 days in school celebrations and activities with the students, then Pancake Tuesday, Valentines Day on Wednesday and then finally the Lunar Parade on Thursday with the Dragon I created. (Below are links to pages to see how I made the dragon.)  Oh yes added on top of everything else the report cards had to be handed out to the parents, parent teacher interviews and then filing of the reports.

Art Inspiration: Dragon’s Head Reconstruction, Stage 1

Art Inspiration: Dragon’s Head Reconstruction, Stage 2

Art Inspiration: Dragon’s Head Reconstruction, Stage 3

Yes this was a busy week if I do say so myself, yet through all this excitement I had prepared a little respite from the hustle and bustle of the activities. On Friday I went to Niagara Falls for an overnight trip to see Wayne Brady live. Wayne Brady is a fantastic entertainer whom you may have seen on “Who’s Line is it anyway” or “Lets Make a Deal”. The show was amazing and my stay at the Falls was quit relaxing.

I went alone and many people made a big deal about this. They could not understand that I needed some alone time away from everything. Just some time to clear my head and maybe do some art, have some fun and enjoy some entertainment. I guess they do not understand that I am happy when I do these things, either with someone or alone. Just as Marcus Aurelius once said …

 

‘Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.’ Marcus Aurelius

 

Many people say they are happy but are not open to the idea that others may have a different way of being happy. I know I am happy because it is within me.

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Friday Two Cents: Happiness Is A Habit


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‘If you want to be happy, be.’ Leo Tolstoy

 

If many of you do not know I run a softball house league for an afterschool program.   The program is not just teaching the students the basics of the game but also to help foster leadership, teamwork and sportsmanship skills in the students. I take these extra learning goals to heart and I truly believe that these are life long skills that everyone must nurture and cultivate.

Many may think, what good is it to develop these skills in a baseball setting. Yet these skills are transferable to life objectives.

             

  1. Leadership – is an obvious skill for people as they continue their journey through life. Everyone at one point or another takes on a leadership role either in school, the workplace or in their family. Being able to lead others and respect those that you lead is a valuable ability for anyone.
  2. Teamwork – does not stop with school but continues in the workforce. Unless you plan to work alone and not interact with anyone else, you must learn to work with others in a respectful and cooperative manner.
  3. Sportsmanship – the aspiration that sports or an activity is enjoyed for its own sake with fairness, ethics and respect for all participants. Every activity from sports and board games, to friendly competition in the work force, fairness, ethics and respect for all participants can mean the difference in getting a promotion or employment.

 

A positive attitude.

For the students it is only the beginning of their journey, yet many of you know that it is a life long learning experience with many bumps along the road. To that effect I noticed many students saying that they are going to lose and would not even try. I then talked to them about another aspect that is part of all three sections, a positive attitude. Studies have shown that being positive has up to 80% of an effect on the final result. In other words if you think you are going to lose or fail, your already have.
When the students were being negative about their game, I then thought about how many adults do the same thing about their jobs, tasks, others or life in general. I then read a few studies about how having a positive attitude, or being happy can help to reduce stress and increase creativity. I found five things I would like to share with you on what you can do every day to reduce stress and have a positive attitude towards life.

  1. Enjoy at least 20 minutes of silence a day. Quiet time reduces stress and allows the brain to be in an optimal state of creativity. Meditation maybe in order.
  2. Give 5 hugs a day. Research shows that hugging can heal sickness, disease, loneliness, depression, anxiety and stress.
  3. Read a book. Studies say that reading for 6 minutes a day can reduce stress by 68%.
  4. Laugh more often. Humour strengthens your immune system, boosts energy, diminishes pain, and protects from stress.
  5. Move your body. Staying active helps you feel better and clears your mind of negative thoughts.
I would imagine Elbert Hubbard was right, ‘Happiness is a habit, cultivate it.’ I plan to cultivate my happiness more starting today. Lets do it together.

 

Friday Two Cents: A Lesson In Happiness


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This week I experienced a moment when my university courses came into contact with my professional life as a teacher.  In the course we are reading a book called “Me to We: Finding Meaning in a Material World” where the two authors share their insights into moments from their life that helped them go onto the path of helping the less fortunate.

I was reading a chapter where they were discussing the Happiness in America.  That despite a high standard of living, money and comforts brought on my technology, peoples’ happiness levels have not moved since the 1950’s.  Maybe money cannot buy happiness.

Studies and polls done on the subject of happiness conducted around the world show that countries in the developing world show a higher happiness level than Americans.  It would appear they are not happy with what they have, they want more.  Even if people win the lottery after the initial celebration of winning, people begin to become complacent and want more to feel those emotions again.

My first thoughts were, “Yeah right.  People are not like that here in Canada”, unfortunately I experienced two grade 5 boys acting like many people described in the book.  They would appear to have a good life, parents with good jobs to give them what their parents never had, an education, peaceful surroundings and opportunities.  However, these two continue to want more.

Don’t get me wrong, I tried to see that they are just curious or hungry for knowledge, but I missed the mark.  These two went on strike and would not participate in activities because the ones the teachers where doing were boring.  Yet we asked the other children and they were fine with them.

We asked the two what was this all about and they said they were representing the other grade 5’s and wanted more.  So we told them to write down what they wanted and we would try to accommodate them.  Once I saw the lists I knew right away that these “demands” had nothing to do with the grade 5’s but what the two wanted.  I can say that because the demands where very specific to reflect the two’s interests and not the grade 5’s in general.

All I could think about was the words from the book about the people with a lot more than others, always wanting more.  I saw a real life example of the decadence and greed in our society reflected in these two adolescent boys.  All I could think about was how I had failed to teach them this important lesson about thinking of others not just themselves.

I know that this is not my responsibility alone, but I knew that I had to at least make some difference.  Therefore a couple of days after their demands they came to me with more demands.  I did something they did not expect, I said a flat-out, “NO.  I will not listen to your demands any more.  You have gone too far and you will not get anything else.”

They were taken aback by this and was about to continue but I cut them off and asked them a question.  I said, “I have been supplying at other schools with children who would beg to have the programs you have here, because they don’t have any.  They are content and happy with what they have. Why is it that you are not?  Isn’t there a word we have for people who constantly want more and more just because they want to?”  They didn’t answer and I saw in their eyes they knew the answer, but I told them it anyway. “Greed.  I think you should be grateful for what you have and be happy with what you’ve got. There are a lot of other children who will never have what you’ve got and they are happy.”

They walked away not saying a thing.  Hopefully, a lesson in being happy with what you have, was learnt that day.

Ailish Sinclair

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