I haven't become Buddhist Monk, but I have learnt an important message from one. I have had a fairly powerful journey over the past few years.
One important discovery I started to make was how to be happy.
It is one fundamental that we all have in common. Each and everyone of us wants to be happy.
Our whole life is spent, each waking hour searching for happiness. It comes in many forms and is all around us, so when times are challenging or stressful it really isn’t hard to find something that makes you happy.
You just have to be prepared to look.
Are you blinded though?
The world is a mean and nasty place at times and many teachers go through life with their head in the sand, totally oblivious and ignorant to the joy that is around them. I see so many teachers who just don’t want to be there and as an organisation, Smile Teachers encourages you to step away from the career if it really doesn’t make you happy.
Finding happiness is possible for everybody and teachers need to know how.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make in life, is to continuing doing something that does not make you happy or causes you pain. Continuing in your role as a teacher for the purpose of an income or pension when you genuinely don’t enjoy teaching is selfish. You end up carrying around a burden as you travel the path of most resistance, this is self-sabbotage.
Be honest with yourself and either pack up or pick up. Pick your lip up off the ground and start to find the happiness, more importantly bring happiness into your classroom.
I went through a period of my life where I was at war with my ego. I struggled most days to find an ounce of enthusiasm, because it had been beaten out of me as I started my teaching career. I got stuck with this Growth Mindset where I was always trying to do more, be more and achieve more. My boots were filled with concrete and I wasn’t going anywhere.
I started teaching happy. I was pumped too be honest. I had my own class, in a fabulous school program and the flexibility to develop my craft. Permanent and full time at 23, I had the world at my feet.
As the months flew by I was burning bridges just as fast as I was building them. I was figuring out who I was, while trying to help 20 teenagers figure out who they were, I had an administration list longer than the Great Wall, that seemed to have a magical power of never ending and I had absolutely no clue how far down the rabbit hole I was going…
I was quickly becoming the Mad Hatter and needed Alice to save me.
Happiness soon became loneliness and burnt out, this led to my break down.
A break down is defined as= breaking down, wearing out, or a sudden loss of ability to function efficiently.
Physically and/or mentally a break down can strike when you least expect it or more often than the warning signs are there. Like an engine light flashing in your car, you could tape over it and hope it goes away but eventually you’re stuck on the wrong side of the road with nowhere to go.
I had become my own worst enemy.
Most of all I was unhappy…
I never thought in a million years that I would be depressed…
I wasn’t just depressed I was a broken mess.
In all the time I spent working on myself to rebuild and recover, the most important thing I had to rediscover was how to be happy.
What made me happy?
Who made me happy?
Who did I need to make happy?
A journey of a thousand miles, begins with one step and as I picked myself up off the canvas and dusted myself off. Life started to make more sense. I started to engage in self-development and became obsessed with learning about the psychology of happiness, motivation and finding out how to be “your best self”.
I read books, research papers, articles, blogs and watched Ted Talks, guest speakers, conferences and more. I listened to audiobooks, podcasts and music. This became a passion of mine and every day I was thirsty for knowledge of how to be happy and healthy.
The most important answer came to me one day when I took time out to reflect. It dawned on me that for so many years I had spent my life trying to impress people, attempting to gain admirers, seek attention, fit in and receive praise. Well that didn’t work and I was left empty and sad most of the time.
The day I started figuring out how to truly be happy, was the day I realised I had to love myself. To be happy with myself.
One of the biggest challenges for me had always been my hair, well my lack of hair… the day I owned the fact that the only person I had to make happy was me and that all started with self-love. Simple strategies like looking yourself in the eye in the mirror and telling yourself you are important, you are happy and you are loved makes a whole lot of difference to your overall feelings and thoughts.
I started to embrace who I was as a teacher, friend, brother, son and good person. I knew I had a heart of gold and a head full of great ideas, I had just been so caught up in my own insecurities that I forgot to just be Shaun.
I started working on tools and strategies to better train my mind. So my default setting was to think happy thoughts, for the average person we think 50000-70000 a day and 80% are generally negative thoughts. Programmed by our society and the world around us to live in fear and regret. When you start to change the way you think, the way you feel about your life can change.
Learning how to be the happiest version of myself was the catalyst for a much better life. It is cliche but why not “live your best life”? You only get one.
How often do you get caught judging yourself, comparing yourself or self-doubting?
You need to cut that out and what I am sharing today is my best strategies for being a happy and healthy teacher.
If you have ever received an email from me you would see my name is “shaunhappyteacher”, sure I have my grumpy moments, but I try with all my might to find the happiness and joy in every day. To be a happy and positive teacher, because really this type of person has the biggest impact in the world.
When you adopt a Benefit Mindset your joy and happiness is contagious and spreads like wildfire. To your students, staff, parents and family, your attitude and energy becomes contagious and that is what the world needs.
How can you start being happier?
5 ways to be happier that I have used as a mantra for a number of years, comes from Matthieu Ricard, scientist who is now a Buddhist Monk, he has studied how to be happy for over 50 years.
5 ways to be happy
If there is a solution, just do it. If there is no solution, there is no point to it. You are just compounding your problem.
Training for a better life:
You can’t just have happiness you need to program your mind and work on achieving it. Cultivating a happy mind is like watering your garden, it needs a little each day and when it gets really hot in there you need even more love and care.
Find your flame:
What really matters?
“Education is not just feeling advanced, it is lighting a flame”
Find that flame that makes sense. This is all about finding your purpose. When you truly find your purpose in life and you do that every day, you can find true happiness. This doesn’t just happen at the drop of a hat. You have to try new things and be open to new ideas.
Happiness for all:
This is the Universal Mindset where you want to see everybody happy. It is all about having compassion for others and feeling that everybody deserves to be happy. This is where you hope and dream of ways to end suffering.
Be of service to others:
Otherwise life is a waste of time.
When you can find alignment in the 5 ways above, finding happiness becomes obvious in all that you do.
5 ways to be the happiest man on earth
It isn’t always as simple as 5 ways to be happy. Life is busy, especially for school teachers. I have had many moments where the overwhelming workload, stress, demands, lack of time and resources all brought me to a grinding halt.
Discovering quick and easy, but meaningful strategies to help me combat some of the curve balls a teacher comes up against has profoundly improved my ability to adapt to situations and respond more effectively. This helps me to get back to being happy faster.
When you are feeling highly strung and a little stressed out, instead of letting it derail your whole day and leaving you unhappy try these great activities from Go Noodle. You can do it anywhere, including your desk and will only take you a few minutes to do! Even do it with your students.
Bring It Down
Ever freeze up and just lose the plot completely. This happened to me before an important meeting once, I wish I knew the Melting strategy to help me ease the freeze. The melting strategu from GoNoodle can be used on your phone, laptop or tablet at anytime to help you overcome nervousness, anxiety and tension. Try it today, your students will love this one.
This one is a beauty, when’s the last time you switched off? It is hard to do in this fast paced, information rich world where we are always on. Emails, texts, calls, notifications, online, live etc. we are always on for whatever reason.
Leaving the on switch on for too long makes my head spin. Our marketing team often laugh because I start to become irrational and agitated when things get busy and I hit a speed bump, not being able to figure something out (problem/solution) so now when I catch myself getting in a huff, usually over technology, I will use a grounding technique to bring myself back to the present and SMILE.
It is super important that I have this tool in my kit bag to help switch off and give my busy mind a chance to relax and do nothing.
When is the last time your brain did nothing?
Take time to float to off and actual let your mind cool down occasionally.
On and Off
If I have ever had a real tough day or I am prepping myself for an incredible day this Pharrell Williams special is appropriately named but packs a punch when it comes to increasing the positive vibes.
When all else fails and you need a pick me up just listen to this… watch as well. It sure brings a SMILE to my dial and no surprises it’s my favourite song.
Finding happiness this Friday is my challenge to you.
Before, during or after this wonderful Friday you need to write down 5 things that make you happy.
Take a photo of these 5 things written down.
Post this photo on Instagram and tag @smile_teachers and we will send you one of the very first SMILE Teachers apparel T-SHIRTS!
The BALI TEACHERS RETREAT in January is filling fast with only 10 spots remaining you would want to get in quick to secure your spot.