Tuesday, January 10, 2017

It's all about Perception

Every few weeks, my dad sends an e-mail with a link to an article that he's found helpful in his daily life.  Sometimes, it's something about how to invest or save your money more wisely from the Wall Street Journal.  In other cases, it might be the latest and greatest in the "heart-healthy" foods and exercise category from the Cleveland or Mayo Clinic.  If you had our family medical history, you'd understand why he sends those e-mails (what you wouldn't understand is why someone with a family history like mine still drinks WAY too much Mountain Dew...it's something I have in common with many of our students).  Whatever the topic might be, I know dad's sharing these articles because he cares about the people on his list enough to try and help them with a resource that has helped him.  Knowing that makes me even more grateful than I already am for my dad and all of the ways he's constantly trying help those around him.  (Ps.  My mom is the same way, but without the e-mails.  We always joke that the only things she knows how to do online are check the weather in Florida and book flights to Florida when their weather looks a lot better than ours...which is almost always.    Just kidding, mom.  Love ya!)
Anyway, the e-mail my dad sent us today was an article from the Mayo Clinic.  This time, it had nothing to do with the health benefits of broccoli or the benefits of a Roth IRA.  It was about the way we look at our lives.  The main idea dealt with the science of being able to make ourselves happy.  According to the Mayo Clinic Staff, scientific research proves that happiness doesn't come from what we have.  Rather, our happiness comes from what we perceive ourselves to have.  I'm sure that's not a new idea to many people.  But I can tell you it's true.
The article also talks about surrounding ourselves with positive people and reminding ourselves of the good things you have going on in your life, while still understanding that life won't always be perfect.  We all have bad days, but it's how we respond to those bad days that defines who we are.  When challenging days come around here at Vantage, I like to be thankful for the people around me who help make sure that those days are few and far between here.
I'm still pretty much brand-new in this position as Director of the building.  I realize I'm going to make mistakes, and so will our students from time to time.  That's how I've learned all my life.  If everyone learned everything easily right away, what need would we have for school?  The point I'm trying to make is that I love the fact that we get to come to school every day and learn together.  Part of our goal is to get to know each of our students and understand what makes them happy, then help teach them the social, industrial and academic skills they need to cultivate that happiness.  All students deserve the ability to learn how to find the joy that exists in their lives while navigating through the challenges they might face.  Some just need a little more help during some of the tougher times.
That brings me to Mr. Jim Fisher.  While our staff is overwhelmingly positive and supportive of all our students' needs, only one of us is truly a professional in this area.  Mr. Fisher has been our school counselor since I started teaching here, and I wouldn't be surprised if you found his picture next to the term "supportive" in the dictionary (for those under 20 who aren't sure what a dictionary is, Google it!  Just kidding, of course.  Did I also tell you I'm grateful for people with a lame sense of humor like mine?).  Mr. Fisher's always there for the kids, no matter what they might need.  Whether it's information about scholarships, someone to listen/help find the positives in every situation, or as our resident Detroit and Michigan sports apologist; you can always count on Mr. Fisher.  He also understands that everyone deserves to find happiness in their lives.  I can't tell you how many times students (and staff members) have come back from visiting with him and talked about a point he made or an idea he had to help make their situation feel a little bit less stressful than it did when they walked into his office.
Just this past week, a somewhat "panicked" student came to me asking where Mr. Fisher was because she needed some scholarship information.  Shortly after she talked to him, the stress seemed to have completely disappeared.  I asked if she felt better, and her response was emphatic: "Oh yeah!  Mr. Fisher and I got this."  Thank you, Mr. Fisher for always being there.  
And thank you to my dad for the inspiration for this week's blog.  Thank you to all who took the time to read it.  And thank you to my friends, family, students and co-workers for showing me the positivity in life.  You all are the reason why I perceive my happiness levels high and stress levels low.  And remember, it's all about perception!  Have a great week.

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