Thursday, August 11, 2016

Finding Joy

Earlier this week, I attended a conference in which the keynote speaker, Kevin Ozar, spoke about joy in education. The title itself caught my attention because too often lately, it feels as though joy has been sucked out of education. Budgets are being cut (again). Everyone is doing more with less. State mandates are growing. Class sizes are growing. Students are taking more standardized tests than ever. There seems to be a never ending list of things that can bring a person down. The question is, will you let it bring you down or will you choose joy? Joy is still there, right where you left it, but you have to make the choice to find it, not create it, and you will find exactly what you're looking for!

You need to look for joy and to surround yourself with joyful people! It's contagious! On the other hand, if you surround yourself with naysayers, that is contagious as well. Which one will you choose? I choose joy! I choose to assume best intentions and to be an advocate for joy. Life is too short to be any other way. We can find joy in everything, if we look for it.

A brief story that Kevin shared involves two wolves. One of the wolves is sad, depressed, upset and afraid. The other wolf is filled with joy and happiness. If both are placed in a pen to fight, which wolf would win? The answer, whichever one you feed. The same is true with us. If we surround ourselves with negative people who drag us down, we start becoming the same. If we surround ourselves with positive and optimistic people we will look at ourselves and others in a more positive manner. You will become like those with who you surround yourself. It's a mirror image.

My father-in-law always used to joke with me that he would take up running the day he saw a runner smiling while they ran. For the record, he never went for a jog. As a runner, I'll admit that I have good days and bad days. Somedays I feel like I could run forever and other days it takes a great deal of effort to get myself motivated to get out the front door. Often times, I'm exhausted and my body aches. So why do I keep on doing it? Because I find joy in running. I enjoy the feeling I get when I set out to run a predetermined distance and I do it. I enjoy the peace and serenity I feel when I'm on the road pondering life. I find that running relieves my stress, clears my head and opens the door for some creative ideas. I enjoy the camaraderie of other runners and the positive energy they share. Running brings me joy and it is a choice I make each day!

Look for joy! Go to it! Spend some time there! Make time for joy! Bring it to others and become an advocate for joy! Make the choice to do it!

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