Have you ever journalled before? This is something I started doing during my service term, and it was one of the healthiest and most productive habits I developed this entire term of service. I recorded the highs, the lows, and all of the cool things that I learned as a health educator! I recorded the great days, for obvious reasons, right? Much like a gratitude journal, you're celebrating something good that happened that day and training your brain to always find the positives in situations. Writing things down (or in my case, typing it out in a google doc) can help you remember those moments even more later in life. For example, some of my favorite memories were: being outside on a bright sunny day, teaching a garden lesson and watching the kids faces light up when they stuck their little hands in the soil, and leading 260 students in a giant lap around the school campus for exercise while singing christmas carols through a loudspeaker. I’ll never forget a special heart-to-heart I had with some fifth grade students in my small group, reaching common ground while sharing my passion to help them learn. Despite it being one of the most time-crunched and exhausting days of teaching, it was one of my best memories.
In addition to the highs, I also recorded what we would most likely call the “lows.” Trouble managing behavior in class, difficulty getting through lessons, working through committee dynamics. Why record the low days? Because I didn’t just record the low point, I’d also record the take-away or silver-lining. I’d ask myself, “What did I learn from this? What will I do next time to better deal with this situation?” So instead of dwelling on any negatives for too long, I’d be thinking about what I learned from that situation and how I should move forward. I wouldn't be just “journaling,” I'd be problem-solving! Sometimes, I’d have to wait and come back to fill in the silver lining if I wasn’t sure at the moment or didn’t feel in the right frame of mind. Hey, they say “sleep on it” for a reason! Because I engaged in this practice throughout the term, I was able to learn SO much about myself, others, the profession, and about life in general. I feel like after this year, I have really started to integrate this thought process into my way of thinking.
Now, with all that being said, do I think everyone should go out to the store and buy a journal and start recording every day? Of course not! All I would challenge others to do, especially those going into this program, is REFLECT. Reflect on tough situations. Challenge yourself to find the silver lining. Problem solve! View challenging situations not as obstacles, but opportunities for growth and embrace new perspectives. We age, but we should never cease the ability to grow and learn. And of course, don’t forget to celebrate your wins, no matter how small!