2 Ways to Brighten Your Day

I love finding new blogs to add to my RSS feed or subscribe by email, and “Barking Up the Wrong Tree” has a ton of interesting little pieces on life, leadership, and learning, in a fun way.

One of the first posts I read on the blog was “How To Make Your Life Better By Sending Five Simple Emails.”  Here is one of the gems of advice on sending an email to improve your happiness:


Every morning send a friend, family member or co-worker an email to say thanks for something.

Might sound silly but it’s actually excellent advice on how to make your life better.

There’s tons and tons and tons of research showing that over time, this alone – one silly email a day – can make you happier.

Via Harvard professor Shawn Achor’s The Happiness Advantage:

This is why I often ask managers to write an e-mail of praise or thanks to a friend, family member, or colleague each morning before they start their day’s work—not just because it contributes to their own happiness, but because it very literally cements a relationship.

I love this information and want to add it in some way to what I do in at least some form on a consistent basis.

But if you take the above advice to heart and want to try brightening someone else’s day, don’t forget to brighten your own.  We are often our own harshest critics, and it can be disheartening when the voice in your head is the one criticizing you. In the post, “15 Ways To Show Yourself Gratitude (And Why It Matters),” it provides (obviously) 15 ideas for practicing self-gratitude, but the first line of the paragraphs below reminded me of how giving educators are to others, and what the possible consequences are if you don’t pay attention, and a suggestion on how to be grateful to yourself:

I spent all my time taking care of others, filled my hours with charitable distractions, so I wouldn’t have to focus on myself. It was an excuse not to address my own problems. My health deteriorated. I fell into depression. I was always exhausted.

The only thing that finally allowed me to get out of that pattern was starting a gratitude practice. I made a concerted effort to consistently focus on what I appreciated about my life. I would write down five things I was grateful for every day, no matter how ungrateful I felt. The extent to which this increased my sense of balance in life cannot be overestimated.

Education is a tough profession, and the majority of teachers hear “thank you’s” way less than they deserve, and criticisms more often than they warrant.  I have also seen as we get closer to winter holidays that educators are criticizing other educators for looking forward to a break because that would somehow insinuate you are mailing it in until the end of the calendar year.  Where I live, in December, you often arrive at school while it is dark outside, and leave when it is dark outside. It can be a hard time of the year mentally and physically.  Here’s the thing…you can look forward to a break AND work your butt off every day to serve students.  Both things can be true.  I doubt doctors are criticized looking forward to a break unless they are providing subpar treatment of their patients on their way out.

We often talk about being our own worst enemy, but rarely think of ourselves as one of our own best friends.  Simply put…find time to make someone’s day with a small gesture but don’t forget to make your own as well.

Source: George Couros