Choose the good

“One, two, three, four, what are you grateful for?”

That was the intercom announcement at 12:34 p.m. at my suburban school in central Arkansas that November. Every day at 12:34 p.m., students and staff wrote down three things for which they are grateful.

Gratitude is the quality of being grateful and, according to Positive Psychology at Harvard University, is the No. 1 research-based strategy for increasing our levels of happiness; just think about what we are grateful for to encourage positive thinking.

Not just happy, but healthy too: Positive thinking is also associated with longer lifespan, less depression, a stronger immune system, and a healthier heart.

We are happier and healthier when we think positively; We are also more productive and successful in our careers. Positive psychology research suggests that when we practice positive thinking, we are more successful at our work and 31 percent more productive.

If teachers are 31 percent more productive when practicing positive thinking, imagine the academic benefits their students will reap!

According to RAND Corp.’s 2021 State of the US Teacher Survey. Work-related stress, burnout and symptoms of depression seem to be almost ubiquitous among teachers and expect an alarming turnover. An already stressful job has become immensely stressful, making it difficult to maintain a positive attitude.

District and state leaders are and should continue to take steps to reduce stress by keeping an eye on the needs of local teachers, but what can teachers do to protect their mental health?

Forty percent of your happiness is based on your actions, behaviors, and thoughts; So luck is a choice, not a result. That’s powerful. I’m not suggesting that we ignore the negative – rejecting negative emotions altogether is unhealthy – but we need to train ourselves to be constructive about unsavory situations, counteract negative situations, let go of what’s beyond our control, and always look for the good.

Think about your “why” to rethink your thinking. Without a doubt, you took up this profession to change lives and help others and it is you! As an educator, I understand the impossible tasks teachers face every day; I urge you to think every day and ask yourself, “Have I given all I had today?” If the answer is yes then stay calm because that’s all you can do.

You deserve to be happy so exercise, meditate, invest in your relationships, and choose to see the good. One, two, three, four, what are you grateful for?

Crystal Carranco from Beebe is a teaching innovation facilitator at Stagecoach Elementary in Cabot and previously taught first class for the Beebe Public School District for 10 years. She is an Advocacy Fellow of the Arkansas State Teachers Association 2021-2022.

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