Students, past and present, motivate me!
“The future of the world is in my classroom today.”
Related Post: Students First
Related Post: Students First
This question came to mind last week when I took over a college class halfway through the semester.
I know how tough it is for students to have 2 professors over the course of a 12 week semester. 2 sets of rules. 2 sets of expectations.
So it’s more important than ever that I play my “first impression” card right.
Students are more likely to “test the limits with the “new teacher”. Accordingly, I use a more strict than usual demeanour at the start of summer semester.
It usually works well. As my tough love approach becomes more on the love side, and less on the tough side as the weeks roll by.
However, this time I knew my first class authoritarian approach was not going to work.
Suddenly I had my hands full right off the bat. One of my students was not impressed in any way.
After laying down the law, the student looked up at me and said: “I’m not going to like you very much.”
And I said: “Good, because I’m not here to be liked, I’m here to teach you something.”
The student loudly responded: “Good, because I just learned something!”
To this day I am grateful for how much this student underscored my purpose in the classroom.
I am not here to be liked. I am here to teach.
A life lesson in self-worth that applies to us all.
Your Turn: Would you rather be liked or respected?
Have you ever wondered why some people remain upbeat and positive despite the chaos that surrounds them while others are utterly miserable even in good times? What explains the difference between these two groups of individuals?
Are happy people just lucky people born happy? And unhappy people born miserable? Or is happiness a choice we make day by day, moment to moment?
The answer to this question is twofold. On one hand, 50% of happiness is predetermined by biology (e.g., inborn temperament) while the remaining 50% is influenced by life circumstances and intentional activities.
As shown above, research indicates that approximately 40% of happiness is intentional activities (e.g., daily exercise, meditation, forgiveness), 10% is life circumstances (e.g., income), and 50% is genetic (e.g., temperament),
Though we may have little control over genetics and/or life circumstances — we do have personal agency when it comes to intentional activities. Be it a walk around the block, gardening in the backyard, or simply relaxing by the fire.
Even though you might not be the happiest (or healthiest, or richest, or most zen) person in the room, you (like me) have room (potential) to grow and expand – no matter your life circumstances or genetic make up.
In the presentation below, I explore the happiness formula (genetics vs. environment) in more detail. Including: 1) the developmental origins of happiness, 2) how individual differences in personality affect happiness, and 3) the paradoxical relationship between traumatic life experiences and happiness (posttraumatic growth).
Click on Is Happiness a Choice to learn more. The video is in webcast format so it requires Adobe software. It will run on your computer, but might not work on your phone.
Special note: I take medical conditions such as clinical depression and anxiety into account when discussing “Is Happiness a Choice?” in my webcast. I underscore that intentional activities such as meditation, exercise, and proper nutrition will not cure mental illness, though they will help tremendously.
For example, medical research has demonstrated that exercise (an intentional activity) improves mood in individuals with anxiety and depression. And in turn, enhances personal agency and locus of control ⇐ the number one (environmental) contributor to happiness.
Related Post: You hold the key.
The list is long when it comes to student stress. But by far, one of the greatest sources of stress is waiting!
Students are always forecasting into the future. Every single moment of student life is about waiting. Waiting for grades. Waiting for summer. Waiting for graduation.
Students become frustrated waiting for what feels like a lifetime to practice the profession they’re in school for.
Textbook readings, class lectures, and endless exams seem miles away from actually doing their dream job.
Days become weeks, weeks become months, months become years. Time moves at a snail’s pace.
For students, there are too many years before they can finally live their lifelong dream of becoming a nurse, a lawyer, a carpenter, a designer, a psychologist.
“Don’t worry, it will all be worth it in the end”. Easy for a professor to say. Challenging for a student to live. A day is infinity in a student’s mind.
(Little do they know that one day they will look back and fondly recall their college years as the best years of their lives.)
Listening to students lament year after year about the waiting game got me thinking (and dreaming) of a better way! Asking myself how I could bridge the (time) gap between education and profession.
My goal is to help students claim ownership of their present time. To help them live their dream job every single day. To remind them that life purpose does not require a job to be realized.
Students do not have to wait a lifetime to experience their dream job. Instead, they could live the core elements of their chosen profession every single day – in so many wonderful ways. Simply by living on purpose, in present time.
Using “bite size” mission statements, I help students identify the key attributes of their dream profession.
During this exercise, students realize that “Life Purpose” is 99% about LIFE. Something they live every single day.
And that no one needs to wait one more year, one more day, or even one more moment to live life to the fullest.
Ultimately, students (and their professor) discover that Life Purpose is about following their heart, sharing their gifts, and shining their light.
One bite size dream at a time.
Related Post: Shine Your Light
This is their final week of classes. Which means one final opportunity for me to encourage their success.
This is my favourite part of teaching psychology. Every time I face a challenge, I imagine how I can translate it into a motivating lesson for my students.
Transforming thought patterns is critical for student motivation and success. As what happens behind our eyes is as powerful as what happens in front of our eyes.
Instead of thinking of nursing school as an obstacle to overcome. Reframe it as superhero training. Heros save lives. And so do nurses. Every single day.
So many people in this world are struggling with what to do with their lives.
An existential struggle that did not exist 100 years ago when jobs were more clearly defined.
What if our only life purpose was to be kind?
What if every decision we made was guided by this shared life purpose?
How would you change? How would the world change?
Life purpose is a way of living and giving.
It does not require a title or a corner office.
Life purpose is a way of being in this world.
Today be kind. 💙
“Be the reason someone believes in the goodness of people.”