Happiness, with blue and pink flowers and birds, butterflies, and dragonfiles

“Happiness is something that multiplies when it is divided.”

~Paulo Coelho

What is your definition of happiness? Take a moment to reflect on this question before we dive into the topic at hand.

Happiness is a complex concept, one that varies from person to person. It encompasses positive emotions, life satisfaction, and a sense of fulfillment. But can happiness exist when we are alone? It's an interesting question worth pondering.

In our never-ending pursuit of happiness, countless books have been written on the subject. It seems that everyone yearns to experience happiness in their lives, and I am no exception. As I recently found myself disconnected from the world during a six-day power outage, I had ample time to reflect on what happiness truly means to me. In doing so, I examined three key elements that contribute to happiness: pleasure, engagement, and meaning.

Pleasure involves indulging in activities we enjoy. It's those moments of bliss when we immerse ourselves in things that bring us joy and contentment. Engagement, on the other hand, refers to feeling interested and connected to our activities and the people around us. It's that deep sense of involvement and connection that enriches our lives. Lastly, meaning plays a vital role in happiness. It's the feeling that what we do matters, that our actions have a purpose and positively impact ourselves and others.

Throughout my life, I have discovered that one of the greatest sources of happiness for me was my career as a principal. Every moment I spent in that role was filled with immense satisfaction. I formed connections with staff, students, families, and the community. I genuinely felt that the work I was doing mattered and had a profound impact on the lives of others.

However, a near-death accident in 2010 changed the course of my life, altering the way I could pursue my passion. Despite my best efforts to recover from a traumatic brain injury and find alternative paths to happiness and fulfillment, I faced frustration and triggers of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Writing a book became my new goal, a means to share my beliefs and insights to help all children. Although I poured my heart and soul into the writing process and sought professional guidance to refine my work, the final outcome did not align with my expectations. Publishing the book came with its own set of challenges and costs.

While my book remains unpublished, I have found solace in sharing fragments of it each week on my blog. The feedback and encouragement from others who desire to see more have been a source of motivation.

I have come to realize that my happiness lies within my family. Each day, I prioritize spending more time with them, and this brings me immense joy. Additionally, helping others who reach out to me for assistance has become another avenue for happiness. The act of supporting and making a difference in their lives fills me with a profound sense of purpose.

As I reflect on my journey, I recall a high school goal list where I wrote that I would write a book in Mr. Bob McMurray's class. Though I may not have obtained a doctoral degree as initially envisioned, I have achieved everything else on that list, including completing the book I set out to write. Mr. McMurray's name is proudly displayed on the dedication page alongside a few other influential figures. Writing the book and accomplishing my goals have been significant milestones in my pursuit of happiness.

Throughout my life, my "why" has always been centered around giving to others. It has been and continues to be my driving force. I have made a steadfast commitment to freely provide whatever is needed to those around me for as long as I am able. Not once have my goals revolved around seeking fame, accumulating wealth, or receiving any sort of personal accolades. Instead, every goal I have set for myself has been rooted in benefiting others and giving back to the community. When I pursued my degrees in education, it was a gift to my parents, fulfilling their request and honoring their support. These aspirations to give to others stem from my spiritual journey growing up in the church, where I learned the profound truth that giving is far more rewarding than receiving.

Ultimately, happiness is a subjective experience that we have the power to shape. It is a choice we make every day. While there may be moments when we feel like giving up, it's crucial to remember that happiness is always within our reach if we are determined to find it. So, let us embrace the things that bring us pleasure, engage fully in our activities, and seek meaning in all that we do. As we embark on this lifelong journey, let us never lose sight of the fact that happiness is not a destination but a state of mind that we can cultivate and nurture.

Thank you to all of my supporters, followers, and new and previous friends. Always know you make a difference in my life each day as you read my words, and I know you are part of the solution daily in a world that needs you.

Are we still doing the same things today as yesterday?

Are we better today than we were yesterday?

Do we need to break the mold and try to do things differently?

The difference between today and tomorrow is us. Each one of us is a leader. Many believe it is a title that defines you as a leader, but it is in our abilities to determine success, failure, happiness, motivation, and inspiration. We all work together collectively to impact the growth and prosperity we want to achieve.

The approaches we used yesterday worked to maintain an average level and, at times, below the levels of what was needed to be mediocre. Today, we are looking to find solutions for exceptional or excellent. However, we are using the same ideas, skills, systems, and strategies for mediocrity to achieve superior performance.

My professional experience is in education, but the theory of applying these thoughts apply to all systems. It is the thought process of accepting change, realizing letting go of “scared” ways may be the right thing to do, and understanding you do not have to wait for someone else to try it first.

Change is prevalent. We have experienced change at a rapid pace in the last few years. Take a moment and think about the changes that have happened in your life in just the past year. The pressure of change impacts us daily.

Changes do not have to remain

The critical part of change is that it does not have to remain. Some accept the change as it comes and does not examine it to modify it to match the core values and belief system. Change is a continuous process, but not one we have to accept completely. We can examine change to adapt, modify, dismiss, and accept completely. However, it should be done with a complete understanding and thoughtfulness to the why of the change and its effects.

I will provide an example in real-life terms I have just experienced. The doctor orders lab work. My blood reveals some alarming elevations in certain areas. This is a significant change. The question is now, “What do we change in the medications which are preventing cancer, preventing neurological issues due to TBI, and preventing other health issues.” It is a chain reaction regarding the change. Changing one thing may cause A while changing another could cause B or C. Examining all of the choices in transition and looking at the big picture helps move forward with decisions based on change. It is not a group thinking choice but an individual decision based on thoughts generated by core values and beliefs. It could not be medication at all. The choice in change will be based on all the information provided and what we believe is the best decision.

When you are looking to apply a change to your organization, company, family, or self, consider these thoughts:

Break the Mold

Remaining the same is not the right choice. Some changes are always needed to improve. Even those at the top are looking daily for improvements. Break the mold and innovate, create and install in all the abilities to take some risks to discover new ideas.

You are on the verge of a discovery, innovation, or creation.

This past week I posted a message about being careful of not depleting your energy and making sure others around you are adding value to your life. I have also posted a message about the choices everyone makes and the importance of teaching these to students.

I was told once that I may have small-town values in my writing. I am not sure if that is the case or if the need for values does.

Often you hear individuals, organizations, companies, and schools say: “I/We have a strong foundation of ______which we are built on that makes me/us strong.”

If we visit the core of who we are, what we do, and why we exist, the values reveal themselves and reflect a strong foundation that is very similar. So the values are a not small town, but American.

It is essential to go back to visit the foundation of the how and why of our development. Sticking to your foundation of values is vital.

Choice is an important tool to teach children to use appropriately. We need to learn early in life with every choice comes a consequence. Once we can think about the process of making a choice and understand the possible outcomes, better decisions begin to happen.

Friday can find many things if we allow our hearts and brains to open to discovering. Today we end a week with teacher tips, advice, feedback, thoughts about hope, and CHOICE.

In communication, listening is always the best form. You can not communicate well if you are not listening, especially to what is not said. I learned that from an exceptional student.

Over the past few decades, I have utilized a phrase that included, “the choice is yours to make.” The choice is part of everything we do each day. Do we think about all of our choices, or do they develop into habits that become part of who we are?

Not every choice is correct or suitable, but some are. The thing about choice is we need to understand how to make them. Teaching children early in life the how and why of the process is what I believe makes an impact on their pathway.

Asking questions is part of the process. My Two Rules philosophy is about asking two questions about two ideas. I love using words to create acronyms so, if you were thinking about how to apply CHOICE to your life, promote to your organization, or with students, what would you use?

Carefully Handle Opportunities Individually Completely Every-time

That seems to be a little too much for an acronym. However, choices come from our hearts often, and our brains come in second. Choices can be reactive instead of responses. Many times a choice is made quickly when our emotions are high.

How do you handle making choices?

Do you ask others about the choices they make?

As you begin 2023, do you have choices you need to make?

One last question to think about as we make choices. Do you see the student as what they are today or who they will become? Can you see the student or just what they do? How do you choose to see?

Are we back to normal yet? What is normal? Many of the challenges and frustrations before the pandemic remain. In addition to those, we find many more to add to them. These factors deplete our emotional reserves and leave us feeling empty and deflated.

We just had a holiday break, and many found themselves looking at prices of items way out of reach, gas prices costing too much to travel, and airline issues to time along with costs worth the travel—all of this adding onto the layers of disappointment. The symptoms of frequent periods of tiredness, feelings of separation and loneliness may be mild at times or intense after the holidays. These times are all warnings to use it is time to replenish our reserves!

The truth is obvious; we can not be our best at anything until we care for our emotional well-being. Many think of quick-fix “remedies” or “prescriptions” to find a healthy emotional state. There are no things people can prescribe to you to “fix” your emotional state of mind. You control your state of mind, and this is how you want it to be. I can provide several tips to guide you, but it is you and the power of choice which decides.

Prescription for Healthy Life

It is cold in my area right now but getting out and enjoying a beautiful stroll in our park is something I enjoy. I love nature, and taking time to look at the beauty around us with appreciation fills my cup each day. Doing things for others is magical. It is even better when they have no idea where it comes from. Living life simply, giving to others, and knowing all of the storms we see shall pass to bring beautiful rainbows with promises for a better tomorrow.

A compass provides us with the knowledge of the direction we are traveling. The choice of our direction is the responsibility of the one who holds it.

Acceptance of the decisions made in the past are mine; I embrace them and learn from them as I continue to move forward. The compass does not revisit steps already taken but moves to the steps to take. These steps are my choices, responsibility, and solutions.

The future is the path before me and will not be trouble-free. My decisions will not all be correct, as I will make mistakes, but they are mine to make right. I will work mentally, spiritually, emotionally, physically, financially, and educationally to prepare myself to open my mind to all of the choices.

My blog post on October 27, 2022, began with students saying. Embedded within the post was an article with data collected from middle and high school students. The data in the paper presented the biggest barriers to student learning, according to a new report released by YouthTruth, a nonprofit that surveys K-12 students and families for school districts.

Anxiety, depression, and stress were indicated, along with students identifying they did not have enough support at school by finding enough adult support. School counselors, Social Workers, School Psychologists, and other Mental Health providers are in need, but there is a shortage. There are not enough qualified individuals to fill positions, nor do schools have the available funding to support all of the additional needs.

Central Visual and Performing Arts High School in St. Louis, Missouri, on October 24th, 2022, had an active shooter. A teen and an adult were killed in the shooting. With the fast-acting security team at the school, all doors being locked, following the safety drill protocols for active shooters, and the fast response of the police department, the shooter was taken down within minutes of the 911 call. All of this saved lives.

While investigating why this school is a target for violence and why the shooter with no background in violence would commit such an act, mental health is brought up. In every case of active shooters, mental health is brought up as an indication of triggers for these incidents. However, the first thing politicians, media, and others do is focus on the weapons used in the horrific violence.

I intend to bring a spotlight on targeting the core of the issue long before (years), before the few days before they have a breakdown and decide to do such an awful thing to the lives of innocent individuals. Those few minutes in the lives of all who survived will be with them for a lifetime. To all of the families who lost loved ones, the scars of the day are so deep. All of these add additional needs for mental health support for the trauma experienced from extreme events, which mental health may have been able to prevent.

I say…

In July of 2022, I wrote another blog post about safety and feeling good. These are the foundation of my Two Rule Philosophy for school. In having a Two Rule school, the purpose is to meet the needs we all value; Safety and Feeling Good. If you look at all of the rules you currently have, the basic foundation of each one is grounded in one or both of those simple Two Rules. However, they are not simple at all once we dig deeper into how we apply, model, explain, support, and teach all that goes along with them.

We will continue to see violence, anger, and issues with our youth and young adults until we address the issues at the core of the problem. Mental Health is a significant need. It is my professional opinion implementation of Two Rules in all schools will begin to develop the habits, skills, and knowledge needed to form a solid foundation for success not only in academics but in their life journey. In addition, we are advocating for funding to increase mental health support. We need to help more individuals who want to go into the mental health and education.

My final thought to share is this, as my editor is currently working on finalizing my book with me, it was important to me to have the book contain pages leaders can take to implement so it will have those. In addition, a collaboration of teams is significant for me as well, so this is included. When I say teams, I want to clarify what this means. Education is not something we do to children; it is something we do with children. Children, families, schools, and the community are part of the teams. Children will lead the conferences about what they are learning, what strengths they have, what they need help with, and how they would like us to all support them. Communication openly together. Nothing changes until we change our approaches together in partnerships. It really does take a village!

You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.

Matthew 5:14

One of my rules is about feeling safe. As a child, I was terrified of the dark. When the lights went out, I could not see, and what I could not see scared me. How I did not know in reality, even when the light is on, there are things we cannot see we should be terrified of.

We’ll leave the light on for you. Is it an excellent marketing hit for what hotel chain? It is the best phrase and the spokesman Tom Bodett has the perfect tone of voice to capture the emotion the advertisers want.

At this moment, there seems to be a spotlight being used to flash from this political talking point to the next. Some politicians change their points of view based on polling numbers and then personal attacks on each other. I know I have watched these things happen before in my decades of life, but today they seem to be a little more dangerous.

My heart broke as we flipped on the TV going through stations, and saw a report of several people killed. The shooter had been killed in the process, he was 15 years old. Then another story I read about police officers responding to an emergency call of domestic violence which could have been just a way to get them to come so they could be attacked. Why so much anger?

Another spotlight is shining brightly on education. It should be! I am a retired educator and I have always wanted more attention on education, someone to look at the equity of the funding for education and to look at how we support education overall.

Starting my career as a Teaching Assistant and ending as the Director of Educational Support Programs, I have been blessed to see through the lenses of many. I have been in rural schools, urban schools, high-poverty schools, and diverse schools, and I have worked with gifted students and special needs students. However, the spotlight is shining with a twist on education.

What is happening in education, to education, and with education?

Parents should be involved! Students should be concerned! The community should be involved! “Education is something we do with children, not to them.” My Two Rule philosophy includes partnerships of home-school-community. The center of the philosophy is the child. Children are developing and growing on a life-long journey. Our responsibility is to provide a strong foundation of skills to help them reach the highest possible levels and to provide a pathway to success.

Now that the light is on education, it is time to show what you need, what you are doing, and how you will build partnerships to achieve for the students you serve. Step into the light and make your voice heard to push back on the positives you are doing. It is time to let your light shine bright! Please let me know if I can help you. Education for all children is essential to all of us.

There are a wide variety of podcasts to select from to tune in and to help you sharpen up the areas you want to grow. Listening to podcasts is a great way to spend time driving to and from work, doing your chores at home, and taking a walk. Finding the one you want to follow or checking out the wide variety of the ones out there takes a great deal of time, or you can begin with those someone recommends as you start your journey.

Usually, podcasts are around 30 minutes long. Each one will provide you with the time allotted for the session, topic, and highlights. A transcript of the show will be made available at the conclusion and the best thing is the show is recorded for you to go back to listen to again or to share parts with others you want to highlight.

I began listening to podcasts three years ago and have listened to a wide variety of them. I want to provide you with a list of a few I believe you will find to be helpful as school leaders to utilize in all you do.

There are many leaders to learn from! These are just a few. In my decades of growing, I find myself continuing to grow as I enjoy reading, listening, and attending webinars or conferences. My advice is always to keep looking for more to learn! In addition, never be afraid to share your wisdom as well. My friend Danny calls his group “Ruckus Makers,” which I think is excellent! Have you ever been called names? Silly question, yes, we all have! My editor has recently called me radical. I have never thought of myself described in this way. How do you describe yourself? Something else to reflect on as you think about which one of these podcasts fits your needs right now. Bookmark the others to listen to when you have the time and the need. The best thing about these is they are recorded to listen to when you can!

"I only have 2 rules!"
© 2024 Brenda Yoho
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