I am reading Elena Aguilar’s book, Onward, Cultivating Emotional Resilience in Educators”. This books inspires reflection. Chapter 7 is all about finding the bright spots in others. I think she is “spot on” about looking at others and ourselves with an admiration lens.
One thing she shared that she did in her classroom was to have students draw names of your classmates and become that person’s “secret admirer”. How charming it that. The rules are it must be kept a secret. I’m sure this will take a bit of practice but imagine how you’d make someone feel when at the end of the day, you were able to share acts of kindness you “caught” them doing. Everyone is focusing on identifying behaviors we appreciate. I think this is so cool. I want to introduce this to staff. Maybe on a Monday we draw names and throughout the week make an effort to find their “bright spot” and share the following week at a staff meeting. I think it would take longer to capture them doing something with admiration. This has the potential to make a huge impact on the school environment. I’ve heard it before but it’s so wonderful to be reminded of the power of highlighting the good in others rather than braying over the bad behavior. What do you want to reinforce? How do you create that environment?
The next thing I read about what how we are wired to see the bad. It has been with us since the days of being chased down by a saber-tooth tiger. “The brain perceives negative stimuli faster and more intensely than positive stimuli. Within a tenth of a second, we can store negative stimuli in our memories…whereas a positive experience requires at least 12 seconds to be absorbed.” pg. 179 That blew me away. That is such a huge difference in the amount of elapsed time. We need to practice empathy about our “complainers” and bring this knowledge to the forefront of our brains. The chapter continues with how we even go as far as praising one another when we focus on the negativity in a person or program. A real interesting read.
She does offer steps to retrain our brains. Some of us need it more than others. I’m going to copy this chapter and share it with my principal and staff.
I’m going to Elena Aguilar’s conference next week. It’s a 3 day conference. After reading most of this book, I really excited about what more I will learn and be able to make a positive impact on those I work with. In addition, I’ll be getting 2 more of her books. Yeah! Another book I need to read is Dare Greatly by Brene Brown. If you haven’t listened to her TEDTalks on vulnerability, you should. I’d love to hear what you think.