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Why a Merry Heart?

It has been said that a merry heart does good like a medicine, but what is a merry heart? The heart that I am referring to is more than the muscle inside your chest that is pumping blood throughout your body even as you are reading this. While that heart is vital to our physical well-being, it is our other “heart” that affects and impacts the lives of those around us. The heart, in this case, is often defined as the place where a person’s will, emotions, and desires reside. Those are pretty significant parts of who we are, and wouldn’t it be great if it were a happy place?

I like to describe teaching as a “rewarding struggle” filled with many joys and trials, successes and failures. In my heart, I know that there is no other profession I would rather have. After thirty years in education, I have the joy of being able to reminisce and bring to mind all the students who have found a place in my heart. I can relive the exciting moments of discovery and breakthrough; I can feel the sting of disappointment when things didn’t go according to plan. My heart still longs to find just the right words or teaching strategy that unlocks the mystery of literacy or breaks the math code and releases the person I am teaching into realms they have never reached before. As a teacher, I am certain you understand the feeling.

But why a merry heart? That question still begs an answer. If you have spent any time at all in a teacher’s lounge or shared a meal with teachers, it doesn’t take long before we all begin to gripe and complain about how things are going and how they should be changed. While brainstorming solutions is a positive thing to do, griping and complaining accomplish very little except to give everyone at the table indigestion. These activities do nothing to solve the problems. Instead they contribute to bad attitudes and weaker performance. A merry heart brings hope and contentment, regardless of the circumstance. Positive attitudes and positive words are like an antibiotic ointment on a wound. Healing begins, progress is made, and hopeful outcomes are real possibilities.

Do you have a real challenging student in your class? Is your administrator giving you grief about how you are handling that student? Are the parents in your community roasting you on social media? All of these scenarios are quite common in our profession, and it is much easier to want to complain about how bad things are. When the challenges you face threaten to overwhelm you, remember that there is still much to celebrate. While the job may be challenging, it is fulfilling. When the days are difficult, remember that the achievement your students are experiencing today in your class is building the foundation for their success in years to come. You are surrounded by colleagues who have faced similar circumstances and have expertise to share. Your administrator is committed to your success and, just like you, wants that student to succeed. One more thing: I have yet to meet a parent who wants their child to be a failure. In their heart, every parent wants their child to do well in life. The truth is, whether you realize it or not, everyone around you wants you to be successful in what you are doing, and that is something to celebrate!

A merry heart has a long-term view and is not taken down by temporary setbacks. It seeks the best for others and strives to get the best out of each day. It is more than a fake smile plastered across your face; it is true contentment deep inside. It is a mindset that sees the possibilities rather than the problems. It’s the thought that says, “I’ve got this!” rather than “I’ve had it!” It is taking a step back to think rather than reacting out of anger. A merry heart is truly good like medicine, and this is one medicine that is recommended to share with those around you.

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