10 Positives for Every Negative? Or 1,000?

10 Positives for Every Negative? Or 1,000?

A woman and her friend were walking down a country road, just like they had hundreds of times before. They were just beginning their walk and were chatting away, sharing the events of the day.

Cars passed them infrequently for it was not a very busy road. When the cars did pass, they whooshed by at a high speed. The straight and smooth road lent itself to pushing the speed limit.

Even at high speeds, the drivers were considerate of people walking or biking down the road. There wasn’t much of a shoulder, so they would move way over into the other lane.

Except this one time.

This time a truck came barreling toward them and was not moving over an inch. As the friends noticed this, they moved quickly to avoid getting hit. When the truck sped past them, the passenger rolled down the window and hurled a full water bottle at the women. Fortunately he had pretty bad aim, especially at that high speed, and missed their heads by a couple feet.

The women turned around and stared at the truck as it drove off into the distance, stunned at the reckless and dangerous behavior. They shared their feelings with each other briefly, and then continued on their walk. They resumed their conversation and things carried on as they had a hundred times before.

Except there was a subtle difference. Their trust was broken. Now, every time they heard a car coming down the road, they watched it anxiously. They imagined cars speeding up on them from behind and hitting them. They imagined that same truck might come back and use them as target practice again. All these irrational thoughts filled their heads despite the fact that hundreds upon hundreds of cars have passed them before without any incident. This one near-miss changed their thinking entirely and completely broke their trust in all drivers.

One of the friends found herself thinking about her skittishness and the broken trust, and how it might parallel how trust can be broken with words… or broken promises… or criticism… or backhanded insults. She thought about how people say it takes 10 positives for every negative, and she wondered if it might actually take thousands of positives to rebuild trust after one negative.

In our bad mood, in our haste, in a moment of inconsideration, we might hurl a ‘water bottle’ full of hurtful words at someone without even meaning to. Then, we might wonder why that person shies away from us or seems nervous when we are around. We might laugh at irrational behavior like worrying about being fired even when feedback has been mostly positive. Yet, is irrational exaggeration of negative feedback so unusual?

It is so important to chose our words carefully. To consider each other’s perspective. To understand that we all go through hard times and deserve grace.

What if we pause instead of reacting?

What if we recognize our own negative feelings and either deal with them or set them aside temporarily so we can be fully present with each other?

What if we celebrated the success of others as much as we celebrate our own success?

What if we valued the comfort of others more than our own comfort?

If we did those things, chances are pretty good that our water bottles would stay right where they belong. In our hands.

Take the high road. No matter how much strife, and consternation, frustration and anger you might be confronted with – don’t go to that level.     -Tim Gunn

Image credit: Pic taken with my phone on my road!

Story credit: The jerk who actually threw a water bottle at my friend and me!




When sitting and listening, brain activity mirrors sleeping

When sitting and listening, brain activity mirrors sleeping

I heard something interesting the other day…

When sitting and listening, our brains are about as active as when we are sleeping.

Besides that, children are not taught nor are they wired to sit and listen anymore.

I am fortunate to visit classrooms every day where teachers are asking deep thinking questions and empowering student passions. Students are talking to each other, brainstorming, dreaming, exploring curiosities, getting to know each others’ interests. Teachers are talking to the students, but most of the time it is to ask questions, to elaborate on student thinking, or to encourage them.

When sitting and listening, our brains are about as active as when we are sleeping.

We have to ask ourselves, are we in the business of providing brain rest time, or are we in the business of empowering students to learn, think, and explore their own curiosities?

The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.     -Ellen Parr

For more information, check out this blog post by the Human Anatomy and Physiology Society that describes the MIT study regarding brain activity during sleep vs. during lecture: https://hapsblog.org/2013/08/25/10-professional-development/

Image source: HERE

“Change your life one 5-second decision at a time.” -Mel Robbins

“Change your life one 5-second decision at a time.” -Mel Robbins

We cannot control our feelings.

We do control what we think and what we do, and our feelings follow along.

Want to feel better? Take a walk, clean the kitchen, work toward a goal, listen to a kindergartener’s story.

Learning Dr. William Glasser’s Choice Theory taught me this early in my career and early in my marriage–it saved my marriage and my career. Before I understood how to change how I feel, I felt out of control. I felt angry and didn’t know how to change that feeling. I would feel stressed even though my problems were so minimal compared to others’. I distinctly remember one time in my early twenties being so angry that I threw a coffee cup into the sink and broke it. Woah mama, get a grip.

I don’t have to stay angry, or mad, or stressed, or sad. Those feelings will still rise up, like a little bolt of electricity running through my body. When those negative feelings happen, now I quickly coach myself to think logically and take some type of action to help me feel better.

The beauty is that if I am in control of me, I am able to help others in the way I want to. And, like you, I want to give everything I have to the people I love and work with.

Today I listened to Mel Robbins talk with Louis Howes about her book The 5 Second Rule and I LOVED what I heard–not just because Mel is a fellow West Michigan gal either!  Mel takes what I learned through Choice Theory to the next level. She shared Damasio’s work, which reveals that 95% of our decisions are based on our feelings. We don’t make decisions based on logic or on our goals. We decide based on how we feel, and Mel says this robs us of joy and opportunity. Do you feel like having that hard conversation? No. Do you feel like taking that run? Nope. Do you feel like cleaning your closet out? Na.

She gives us a tool, the 5-second rule, to help us take action when we don’t feel like it. When you have the urge to do something you should do, rather than dismissing that urge, count backwards from 5 and then do it. You start the action necessary to move toward doing the right thing as soon as you start counting.

I should work out. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Blast off the couch.

I should talk through that mistake with my colleague. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Go for it.

I should read to my son even though I am so tired. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Be the mom you want to be.

Change your life one 5-second decision at a time.

-Mel Robbins

Image credit: HERE

Press the ‘Reset’ Button to Bring Back the Joy

Press the ‘Reset’ Button to Bring Back the Joy

Are you feeling the joy?

This time of year sometimes patience wears thin, and we feel like students have forgotten expectations even though it is March. For teachers, the creative juices might have dried up a bit. We could all use some of the energy we had in September. You are not alone, this happens across the state, country, world.

So, what to do? Think about how you could press the reset button to refresh and re-energize yourself and your class. Here are some ideas:

  • Do relationship-building activities every day for a few weeks. Fifteen minutes of fun could go a long way.
  • Remind students of expectations in an empowering way. Have them reteach each other with quick presentations on the expectations that need revisiting. Don’t forget to have them explain the ‘why’ behind the rule.
  • Look at your lesson plans for the day and make sure there are things you are looking forward to in there. Students can read us like a book–if we are stressed and not having fun, they will mirror us.
  • Focus on how far students have come rather than the problems that pop up. Share the joys with you colleagues. They could use the lift!
  • When problems do pop up, talk over solutions with your principal or a teammate. You are not alone!

There is so much to celebrate every day. We have to dig through the other stuff to find it sometimes, but it is always there, just waiting for us to rediscover it.

How will you ‘reset’ and find the joy again?