It’s Personal Post Thursday! Or Confessional Thursday. I haven’t decided which I like better, though the alliteration with Personal Post appeals to me. Anyway, this week I thought I’d talk about attitude.
As a middle school teacher and a former teenager, I feel like I’m well-equipped to talk about this topic.
Seriously, your attitude changes everything.
I’m normally a pretty positive person. Sure, I’m occasionally cynical and I definitely have a lot of sass and sarcasm at my disposal, but I’m generally in a good mood. I’m like Pooh in that I’m generally pretty happy and content with life. I’m not as excitable as Tigger, but nobody’s raining on my Eeyore parade. Generally. There are days when I am Tigger or when I am Eeyore, but I’m usually mellow and satisfied.
I heard for years that a person’s attitude toward something seriously impacts what they think of it. Middle school teachers had it on posters. My high school principal’s daily motto was, “Make it a great day or not, the choice is yours.” (I kid you not, he said it Every. Single. Day.) My parents told me repeatedly.
And did I believe them? Not a chance.
But then again, I had seen it in effect that attitude was everything. Every time I’m put in a situation where I’m forced to endure something I don’t want to (a long wait, a particularly boring meeting, an awful assignment I must read), I think of it as a learning opportunity. What can I possibly take away from this? If I’m stuck in a long line, what can I notice about the people around me to either amuse myself or put into my writing at some point? If I’m in a boring meeting, can I learn something about how to make meetings better in the future? If I’m reading an awful assignment, is there anything at all in it I can take away from this experience?
It never occurred to me at the time that this was all related to my attitude. All I knew was that this was my coping mechanism to help time pass a little faster.
And I saw how my friends and classmates didn’t cope. I saw how those people behaved rudely to speakers out of sheer boredom. (You have no idea how much that bothers me.) I saw how those people rolled their eyes and complained the whole time. I saw how those people then suffered on future assignments and complained more. It was a never-ending cycle.
By changing our attitude toward something, we make it interesting and endurable. When we look at something in a positive light, we see the positives of it. And, conversely, looking at it negatively assures that we will see the negatives of it.
I’ll give you my most recent example of this.
First year teaching sucks. All first year teachers know this. A time or two, it has crossed my mind that maybe I’m not in the right field for me. This always happens when I’m feeling particularly negative about my life, myself, or the students. I just want out. It doesn’t matter how many kids I have that inspire me, on those days it’s the two or three rude kids that make me question my entire career.
But on good days, when I’m seeing everything positively, my job looks pretty amazing. Daily, I have the opportunity to impart my wisdom on nearly 200 kids. I can talk to them about books I love and what’s happening in their lives. They make me laugh with their stories. And the kids are so smart and perceptive. I can’t sneak much past them. Sure, there are a couple of kids who speak out to get attention, but generally I’m happy.
It’s that simple. My attitude toward my job can determine whether I have a good day or a bad day.
And that’s really the heart of it, isn’t it? We determine whether we enjoy life or whether we spend the whole time complaining. It just astounds me how much time people spend complaining about the most minute things. As a teacher, I get to hear complains all day about my lessons, my homework, how said homework isn’t finished for reasons X, Y, and Z.
And yet…life still looks pretty good because I choose to look at it that way.
I guess my high school principal was right. Make it a great day or not, the choice is yours.
(If my high school self heard me just say that without a hint of irony, my high school self would be rolling her eyes right now.)