In the last blog we were introduced to the GREAT DREAM acronym and the ten simple habits it represents that are proven to make us happier. Those habits are listed here again, with the average ratings of the survey participants (scale of 1-10), which reflect how often they performed each habit.
1. GIVING: do things for others – 7.41
2. RELATING: connect with people – 7.36
3. EXERCISING: take care of your body – 5.88
4. APPRECIATING: notice the world around you – 6.57
5. TRYING OUT: keep learning new things – 6.26
6. DIRECTION: have goals to look forward to – 6.08
7. RESILIENCE: find ways to bounce back – 6.33
8. EMOTION: take a positive approach – 6.74
9. ACCEPTANCE: be comfortable with who you are – 5.56
10. MEANING: be part of something bigger – 6.38
While there is much that is positive and helpful in this list it is worth noting the habit that received the lowest score – that being self-acceptance. Accepting ourselves is one of the most important parts of good mental health, yet we have a hard time actually doing it.
Much has been written about accepting yourself and loving yourself and the whole idea of self-esteem, in general. All of us seem to struggle with the idea of self-acceptance. Could this struggle represent the seeds of discontent and distress that lead to poor mental health? Where does our lack of self-acceptance come from? The answer is probably different for each of us. Some of us were brought up by adults who were significantly wounded themselves and passed those wounds on to us. Others of us were raised by well-meaning adults who loved us, but who still relied on criticism, blaming, and punishing as the ways to get us to behave. Still others of us come out of a religious background that painted an inaccurate picture of God, a picture that portrayed Him as an angry, exacting judge. There are many possible reasons for why we don’t give ourselves the same break we desire to give others.
This is one of the areas in which choice theory is helpful, in that the theory reminds us that the answers to our basic mental health issues lie within each of us. The theory explains that we are not trapped in our past, even if that past includes criticism, punishment, and inaccurate God pictures. It explains the freedom we have to live in the present and celebrate our gifts, as well as our potential.
Love your neighbor as yourself.
When schools embrace traditional forms of classroom management and grading they contribute to the seeds of poor self-esteem with which so many of us end up struggling with. Anytime the focus is on performance, students come to believe that their value is wrapped up in their achievements and accomplishments. Even successful students (maybe especially successful students) are damaged by this message, because their self-esteem is contingent on their latest performance and what others think of that performance.
This is one of the reasons why Glasser Quality Schools (or schools that live choice theory) are so successful – that being the focus is on positive relationships, intentional “liking” relationships that aren’t dependent on how students perform. Students are valued as fellow human beings with inherent value based on that alone. High achievement takes place in a choice theory school, too, but it is the result of relationships and relevance, rather than the end-all in itself.
The A in DREAM stands for acceptance, a quality we readily admit we need to nurture when it comes to our response to others, but a quality we struggle to apply to ourselves. Let’s recognize this struggle for what it is and make a decision to start treating ourselves better.
Have student partners create a graphically-rich poster that expresses or exemplifies unconditional love.
To prepare the students for creating the poster, assist them in exploring responses to questions like –
What does it mean to be unconditionally loving?
In what ways have you experienced unconditional love?
Is there such a thing as conditional love?
What kinds of conditions do loving people place on one another?
Is it possible to have expectations of another person and have them be unrelated to a decision to love?
Is it harder for teachers and parents, who feel such a deep responsibility for children, to be unconditionally loving?
Allow time in class for the posters to be created and then post them around the class when they are completed. A few days after they have been posted, which allows for students to look at each other’s posters, allow time for teams to explain their posters and respond to questions.
The difference between pain and misery?
Pain is what we walk through; misery is what we sit in.