This past week, I have been inundated with experiences, social media posts, notes, cartoons, quotes, and anecdotes from workshop participants that accentuate the importance of having people in our lives who make us happy even when the going gets tough.
It all started about a week ago, when my two very best friends (and their husbands) from college came up to stay with Dave and me in a house we had rented near Aspen, Colorado. First of all, what a brave act our husbands did by agreeing to spend a weekend with the three of us who giggle interminably about the silliest things (we are all educators and "get" the humor of little ones). Our stomachs ached and our eyes watered so many times over the three days we were together from laughing so hard---making fun when one of us said to our whitewater rafting guide, "How many oars do we each get?"; getting so tickled and laughing so loudly on a hike (on which I was fervently searching for bear or moose) that there was no way any wild animal would come near the three of us; sitting together on the deck, saying, "Okay, no talking. We are only going to read our books for a few minutes", when seconds later, a new conversation had begun. How incredibly blessed I am to have those friendships with people that are life-long and pick up right where they leave off---every time.
But then I got on social media and saw a letter from one of the teachers with whom I used to work written to another teacher with whom I used to work, thanking her for being such an amazing influence on her son. Here is an excerpt from what she wrote:
School wouldn't have been as wonderful as it was if it hadn't been for you. I have tried to figure out what makes you such a great teacher. Honestly, It's hard to describe you with words. It's a feeling. It's your demeanor. You're just the right amount of fun, but can easily be all business when needed. You are caring. Most teachers are (at least the ones I associate with), but there's something special about you. Maybe it's your tone? I've often heard the way you speak to your students. It's like you're carrying on a regular conversation when you're teaching, but you expect and receive respect from your students. The rest of what makes you so awesome hides inside you I guess
Both of these teachers are amazing in their own right, by the way, and are frequently bragged about by me in my workshops (from the way they establish a culture of respect and rapport in their classrooms) to the way they demand a culture for learning. But what struck me the most is the unselfish way in which the writer of the email unabashedly praised the other teacher without ever worrying that doing so would diminish her own abilities. In some instances, I have seen teachers NOT compliment one another, for fear that, in doing so, they might be saying, "You are good so I must not be". On the contrary, I have come to believe that when we can see a strength in other people and acknowledge it, that single act can boost our own self and our own strength (after all, what could be stronger than being comfortable enough in your own skin to acknowledge the gifts of others?).
In a recent workshop I taught, I heard one school leader say (and I'm paraphrasing), "I have learned so much from _______ , and I am so glad she is not afraid to share her great ideas with me." That, to me, is a win-win. A win on the part of the recipient of the help but a double win for the recipient of the compliment. I am hopeful this type of sharing of praise is self-perpetuating. The more we do it, the more we will do it.
And, after all, why not?
What makes you laugh? What makes you feel good? What fills your bucket?
Just for today, perhaps you can do for someone else what you think might make their day. It probably can't hurt and it certainly could help---both of you!!
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