What makes me happy and keeps me positive?

I’ve read three posts on positivity and happiness today: one by a head, one by a teacher and one by a student. And they made me think.

I am, I believe, a positive person, a ‘How can we?’ rather than a ‘Why we can’t’ person. I always felt that with a critical mass of ‘How can we?’ people in a school, the opportunities were boundless and exciting. Too many ‘Why we can’t’ people can be very draining – you can feel like you’re in the presence of Harry Potter’s dementors who slowly suck out your soul….

I hope I have a positive impact on others. I also hope I’m not naïve, or too quickly dismissive of real challenges and difficulties. I was very struck by Jim Collins’ discussion of The Stockdale Paradox in ‘Good to Great’ (well worth a read, if you haven’t yet). It’s about the importance of being able to confront difficulties openly and honestly and yet STILL believing that you will prevail in the end. I found that inspiring when I read it in the early years of my headship.

So what keeps me positive?

The company of those I care about – friends and family who lift and sustain me. We have to work hard NEVER to take them for granted, whatever else we feel is grinding us down or putting us under pressure.

Reading good fiction or watching good drama – which often encourages me to reflect on my own life, and what is really important.

Singing – I think partly because when you sing you have to breathe properly, and that has a wonderful calming effect. Listening to music, too, especially on long car journeys.

Doing some exercise every morning when I get up, before I do anything else – just half an hour, but it makes a significant difference to my state of mind, I find.

Working with, and being able to support, teachers and school leaders at all levels on their own professional journeys. I am still hugely enthusiastic about teaching as a profession, and about school leadership as a channel for making an even greater difference to the lives of young people and adults.

Writing, including articles, reviews and blogs. This helps me to clarify my own thinking as I work out how best to communicate my ideas to others. I have really enjoyed writing for a range of print and online publications, including Innovate My School,  The Guardian Teacher Network, TeachTalks, Capita SIMS Independent, TES and a regular blog review column for Schools Week.  I can certainly recommend this to others.

So, those are the things that make me feel happy and positive. What works for you?

A version of this post was published on @staffrm in 2015

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