From the President: Happiness, health and living mindfully

Jan. 8, 2017

Happy 2018! I hope that you had a relaxing break and that you took some time for personal reflection.

It’s that time of year when resolutions and goal setting are often prevalent. In the last decade, I’ve found some goals have been easier for me to reach, and others have been...well...not too productive. I share this because, as we enter 2018, there are a few areas where we should all have some goals, formal or informal: happiness, health and living mindfully.

Happiness isn’t always about what you do or how you do it, or the role others play in your life. Happiness is really a mindset. We all face challenges that sometimes cause emotional chain reactions. Start by finding the positives, even when they are outweighed by the negatives.

Consider a gratitude journal or app with a reminder that at some point during your day, you need to stop and list four or five things for which you are grateful, even if it is as simple as the cashier at Subway looking you in the eye and saying “thank you.” Affirm, affirm, affirm. Having a mantra helps you redirect; similar to the one from “Rogue One” (“I am one with the Force and the Force is with me”). Ask others for help and let them give you that gift of support.

Exercise more. Can you find a way to walk around the school or department one more time each day? Commit to be active another 30 minutes each week? Find a colleague or an app to help you stay accountable? And put your goals out there. While I don’t expect to see you all out running a marathon, signing up to walk even a 5K or 10K, and then telling others about it, will make you more apt to achieve that goal and then celebrate it! Good health also means good eating, so commit with colleagues to changing the offerings in the candy jar from chocolate to Lifesavers or something else that can help prevent the additional calories.

Finally, we’ve all read the numerous articles on mindfulness. While it may feel a bit flighty at first, finding a way to stay grounded and present is much easier than it sounds. Try an app that leads you in meditation for even five minutes a day. When you realize you’re stressed, acknowledge it and take a few deep breaths. Take at least one contemplative walk each week where you can take in the sights, smells and sounds. And if you have children, they can join you, and you can model what it means to appreciate and refocus.

Our work is heavy work. Our jobs are incredibly demanding. They take their toll, both physically and emotionally. Its OK to take time for you, and to share those strategies that work with others, so we can be healthy and lead. Our students need you and they need me, but they need us to be healthy. Here’s to a year of committing just a bit more to ourselves so that what we have to give is the best we have to offer.

– Lisa Gonzales, ACSA President

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