Sharing ideas on Education, Leadership and Life

Sunday, February 12, 2012


I would like to  share some personal thoughts and reflections. I think it is important and it is something that we can all learn from. Even if we can't learn from it it may be helpful and therapeutic for me to put my thoughts in writing.

The last two weeks have been very difficult for me. There have been a number of issues that I have had to deal with and in  the words of Todd Whitaker "I have a lot of Monkeys on my back" ( I happen to be in the middle of reading his book with a similar title "Shifting the Monkey") I have not finished the book but at times and especially this week my feeling has been “if I didn't step up or do something then at the end of the day it would be the students that suffer” and that is something no matter how many ‘Monkeys’ I have I am not willing to let happen.

Again I  was faced with that question of balance and how to deal with these issues and not get down or upset?

As I am fond of doing I like reading the writing of Lord Rabbi Sacks and when I checked out his website on Friday I found the following article. "Ways to achieve happiness beginning with thank you"

In this article Lord Rabbi Sacks outlines four ways to accomplish happiness.
Here are his thoughts:

"First, thank. Don’t just thank God: thank people. There is almost nothing you can do to bring warmth into someone else’s life than simple, honest recognition for something they have done, especially if it’s the kind of thing most people take for granted. Do it for your children’s teachers, your work colleagues, the person at the checkout counter, anyone who does the kind of work we often call “thankless.”

If you have a spare moment – you’re waiting in a queue somewhere – think back to someone who, many years ago, made a positive difference to your life and whom you didn’t thank at the time: a teacher who inspired you, perhaps, or a friend who gave you good advice or lifted you when you were low. Write to them and tell them so. This one act can transform a life, and giving a satisfaction to others is the best way of finding it yourself. Remember Paul McCartney’s words in Abbey Road: The love you take is equal to the love you make. Ditto for happiness.

Second, resolve to be active not passive. Be a doer, not a complainer. Light a candle, don’t curse the darkness. Don’t criticise leaders: lead. Don’t wait for something to happen: help bring it about. Life is too short to be a spectator rather than a player. So, sit less, exercise more. Drive less, walk more. Neuroscientists have made the heartening discovery that physical exertion renews our brain cells. It actually keeps us mentally as well as physically young. It also produces the endorphins that fight depression and produce exhilaration. Moses Maimonides, the twelfth century rabbi who was also one of the leading physicians of his day, held that keeping fit was a religious duty. God gave us life and we honour Him by using it to the full.

Third, be part of a community. There is something transformative about being part of a group who pray, celebrate, remember and hope together. If it takes a village to raise a child, then it takes a community to reach a full flowering of happiness. Virtual communities linked by smart-phones are no substitute for real face-to-face encounter. Community is where our grief is halved and our joy doubled by being shared with others.

Fourth, make a thorough clear-out of negative emotions. Apologise to those you’ve wronged, and forgive those who have wronged you. Emotional energy is too precious to waste it on guilt on the one hand, resentment on the other."

These ideas really spoke to me.
I would like to express a Thank you to my family and friends for their constant support,advice and help. I would also like to thank all the teachers for all that they do on a daily basis on behalf of their students.  

The second idea spoke to me even more during this current crisis. Complaining and criticizing others isn't going to accomplish anything and yes, it may make me feel better but at the end of the day it will not accomplish. So As Rabbi Saks pointed out I just need to lead. I will admit easier said than done.

His last idea is one that I have a tough time with. The need to move on and put out those negative feelings. Even harder but more important is to forgive those that have wronged you. As I was reminded by a friend that is doesn't do any good to worry about things that are out of our control.

I am by no means perfect and some these ideas while very true are  easier said than done and it probably won't make me feel any better but I know that the way I feel now is nor healthy for me, my family and especially my students.

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