Choice is a powerful tool when it comes to stress perception. What we give attention to grows.
Which is why we must make the conscious decision to talk about our blessings more than our challenges. Our strengths more than our stressors. Our excitement more than our fears. Our possibilities more than our problems.
Every day is a new day filled with abundant opportunities.
The next time you’re tempted to complain about the same thing (over and over again), direct that same (frustrated) energy into your highest, loftiest goals. Consciously swap one complaint for one baby step towards your dreams. Same energy required. Magically different results. 🎈
The one word I hear repeatedly from students this time of year is drowning.
Drowning in bills. Drowning in midterms. Drowning in research.
Not a pleasant thought. And definitely not energizing.
A sinking feeling that takes student motivation from 100 to 0 in an instant.
By thought alone.
How can we help students to feel more empowered in the midst of winter weather, too many midterms, and not enough time.
We meet students where they’re at. By embracing that stressful, drowning thought and transforming it into a peaceful, floating feeling. By helping students feel safe and supported. In and out of the classroom.
Trusting the Flow.
We remind students of their resilience. We show them how far they’ve come. We encourage them to flow with the moment instead of fighting against the current. Then and only then can the focused learning begin.
The world needs your unique kind of wonderful. So don’t let the critics get you down. Focus on your dreams. Not their doubt. Use their words as fuel for your success and empowerment. The sun always rises. And so will you. ☀️
We live in a world that rewards frivolous behaviour with fame and fortune, so it is no wonder that some students expect their motivation to come from the outside, in the same way that reality show contestants expect to win a million dollars, simply by “showing up”.
How can we change this? What impact can we have on millennial, tech savvy students expecting instant gratification in our classrooms?
We start by reminding students (and ourselves) that motivation begins on the inside. We show students why external motivators will never sustain them. The overjustification effect is just one example of this fact.
Better yet, we tap into students’ own life experiences to ignite long-term commitment and motivation. Students often forget the feelings of joy and anticipation they felt when they first opened their acceptance letters to school.
In the midst of going to class, applying for OSAP, juggling family, work, and school demands, and paying bills, students often forget why they applied to their programs in the first place.
There are two great days in a person’s life – the day we are born and the day we discover why. William Barclay
Sometimes, igniting motivation is as simple as asking students “Why?” they are at college in the first place. “Why?” exercises help students get to the heart of what motivates them, guides them, keeps them going. From early morning classes to late night study sessions to unexpected academic costs to making it through final exams.
How I incorporate “Why?” exercises into lectures:
I ask students to relax, sit back, close their eyes, and take a deep breath.
Next, I ask them to visualize the day they applied to college and ultimately received their acceptance letters.
Finally, students are asked “Why?” they wanted to go to college in the first place – what’s their ultimate mission and motivation for getting a diploma in their chosen field.
Student answers to this simple, yet complex question of “Why?” is so varied, so unique to each student. Yet, each answer is united by the same ideal, the same belief: Hope
Students are searching for something better, to change for the better, to make the world better. They want to save lives as nurses, to design hybrid cars as engineering technologists, to help children who are abused as child & youth care workers, to inspire their own children by being college educated, to be independent and self-sufficient, to do what they love, and most of all, students yearn to make a difference in this world.
Sustaining Motivation and Commitment
Once written down, I encourage students to carry their answers (in one word, if possible) in their wallets, post them on the bathroom mirror, on their phones, in their cars, and look to their “Why?” every time they need inspiration.
Their answers remind them “Why?” they choose to study for midterms, “Why?” they choose to write research papers, “Why?” they choose to attend class rather than do something that brings instant gratification.
He who has a why to live can bear almost any how. Nietzsche
Intrinsic motivation can be taught in so many ways. During “Why?” Exercises, students teach me. They teach me that hope is enough to sustain us through the hard times. Hope is enough to push us through life’s challenges. And the most important lesson of all is that hope mixed with drive, self-determination, and hard work changes lives for the better.
At the beginning of my Is Happiness a Choice? presentation I ask the audience to write down the one word that best describes what has brought them the most happiness in the past 12 months.
How would you answer this question?
In one word, what best describes the people, places, or things, that have brought you the most happiness in the past 12 months? Big or small.
What makes life worth living?
My One Word = Students.
The one thing that brings me the most joy, meaning, and contentment is the opportunity to work with Canada’s future, our students. It’s the one place that I believe I’m making the most difference in this world.
Wake Up Call.
Every time I get a little down, frustrated, and/or disappointed (basically anytime I’m feeling powerless or stuck) by the circumstances of life (we all have ups and downs, positive psychologists included), I bring myself back to the “One Word” that best describes how blessed I am to be alive.
And some days my one word = Chocolate
May the one word you write down be a beautiful reminder of all the light that shines in your life, even on the darkest of days. And please don’t forget to share your one word for happiness. Your one word may be someone else’s wake up call to joy. ⏰✨