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Vicki Davis shares on Episode 196 of the 10-Minute Teacher Podcast
From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis
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You can have a more thankful, joyful year all of the time. In today’s show, I share seven secrets to live a more joyful, thankful life all year long.
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Below is an enhanced transcript, modified for your reading pleasure. For guests and hyperlinks to resources, scroll down.
7 Secrets for Better Thanks Living All Year Long
Link to show: ift.tt/2AphxMk
Date: Monday, November 20, 2017
Happy Motivational Monday!
So today I’m recording a special motivational episode for all of you out there with some tips for better ThanksLiving. Now Thankfulness — I cannot tell you how important it is for me, having my own attitude because of it, because teaching is SO HARD.
There are just a few things that I do that really help me a lot. I thought I would share these tips with you. Some are productivity tips, some are just thoughts, and some are kind of how you organize your life.
The Mud Puddle Principle
Now, the first one is what I call the “Mud Puddle Principle,” and I’ve blogged about this before. If you can think of a young little child on the edge of a mud puddle. You know how, when they get close to the edge of a mud puddle, they’re just going in!
Well, around my house I have yellow notepads, just the letter-sized ones. Then I have my favorite pens. I have them on my desk. I have them by my Prayer and Thinking Chair. I have them by my chair in the den. I have them right by my bed.
So, when I’m inspired, I just fall right in. When I sit down, and I have a thought, my pen’s there. My paper is there. I can jot it down. There are so many ideas for shows and other things that happen. Just writing and getting my thoughts out actually makes me a happier person.
Keeping a Journal
The second thing is keeping a journal. I read some time ago, that a treatment that some people have for depression — in addition to medication and other things that you do need — is that they will have people write down five things that they’re thankful for every morning.
Read “9 Fine Reasons to Keep a Journal (and Help Kids Do It Too)”
I have done this practice for so many years, and although I don’t have every day, when I find my “thinking turning stinking,” I’ll actually start listing those positive things in my journal. The other amazing thing about journals, is that I’ve been keeping them since I was eight, and I can look back and have such incredible memories.
Not too long ago, I found my journal for the year that I started dating my husband, Kip. I pulled it out, and there was actually something I had written there that said, “Dear Kip, If I am reading this to you then what I think is going to happen is happening. We’ve gotten married.”
And it was like, “It’s been 24 years!” I got to read this beautiful thing to him that I had written. It really just reminded me all over again how this journey started, and how much I love my husband. So, journals just can speak to us in the future in so many different ways.
The Day One Journal
But I also — my third thing — is I use the Day One journal app on my phone and on my computer, and it synchronizes. SO you can have little mini-journals. I have one for poetry because I like to write poetry. I have a journal for answered prayers. I have a journal just for things — photos, memories.
Read “One Habit that Can Make You Healthier and Happier: Retrospective Journaling”
Now that I’ve been going for a while, it’s kind of like Facebook because it will actually re-show me those journal entries later. And I like it because it’s surprising, because you know what? Not everything belongs on Facebook. I use Day One journal also, and I really love it.
Now, the fourth thing is that I like to make Memory Markers. It kind of comes from I guess you could say the Bible, but other people have done this as well. When something historical or memorable happens, they would sort of make a marker. They would put up a monument.
Well, I have my office full of quotes. I’ll find a quote, or something that reminds me of an event. Then on the back, I will write in marker the date and the time and the circumstances of why that is my marker.
Sometimes these come from my students. I have a lovely sign right up above my desk that I’m looking at now. It says, “Be a voice, not an echo.” One of my students, Zach, gave it to me several years ago at Christmas, and it just reminded me that, you know, I have my own things that are on my heart to share with people.
I need to be brave and share those things, and not just feel like I have to be like anybody else. I can just be me, and you can be you also.
I have a lot more memory markers that are really treasures to me. One day when I’m gone, my children will take these things down. They’ll see on the back, even if they give it away, a very special memory marker for lots of major events in my life.
Sometimes I get those down off the wall to remind me about a decision and why I made that decision, so I can remember, “Oh yeah. That’s why I’m not going back to being friends with that person or working there.” Whatever.
So the next thing is having Habit Places. I have a Prayer and Thinking Chair. I think that Winnie the Pooh had a “Thoughtful Spot,” so I guess you could say it’s my thoughtful spot, but it’s a chair. I actually a Memory Marker over it, one of my very first, which is a cross stitch, my very first one. It says, “Thoughts.” I have always carried that with me through my life and put it wherever I think.
It may sound silly, but there are times when I just have to clear my mind and think about things. I can’t tell you about how many innovative thoughts or breakthroughs happen when I just sit there and think.
But I also have another sign that says, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord,” It’s right over that chair. So what I do, every morning when I get up, usually around 4:30 am or so, light the candles on the coffee table right in front of my Prayer and Thinking Chair. I have a little stool because I like to prop up my feet. I have all of my books and Bibles and things. I light a candle. I’ll get me a coffee and put it right by my Prayer and Thinking Chair.
Then I will read my Bible. I will pray. I will write in my journal. I’ll pull up my next tip, so I can have my prayers. I just really have a moment. I know that when I sit in that chair, it is a place where I’m not to going to take my cell phone. It’s just for reflection and thinking.
Tools to Organize Your Prayers
Now the next thing is really using tools to organize my prayer life. You could use this for people you want to think about, you could use it for a lot of purposes, but for me, I learned this from a fellow named Ronnie Floyd, who my pastor had mentioned from the pulpit. He had pulled out his iPad during the sermon once and showed my pastor, Michael Catt, that he was praying for him. He had a big long list of people that he prayed for every day.
One thing about life is that if you say it, do it. Don’t just say stuff and not do it. That’s really one of my pet peeves. I always told my students to say either yes or no. Don’t say, “I’ll try.” Say “I’ll do it.” Like Yoda says, “Do or do not. There is no try.” People who say they’re going to try are usually saying, “I’m not going to do it. I’m just trying to be nice.” And I just can’t stand that, so now when I agree to pray for people, I have several different lists in my notes on my iPad.
I do use Evernote for other things, but for this I use Notes, and I actually share one of those with my husband, Kip, because he and I are adding people all the time. I’ll put the date that I add people on, and everyday I pray through that list. I write dates at the bottom. I’ll put “Answered Prayers,” and I’ll move it to the bottom.
So I sort of have a little system there of different things that I’m praying for. It really helps me to be focused and remember. Every so often — I try every morning to reach out to two or three different people on my list so that they know that I’m still here, I’m remembering them, I’m remembering their concerns, and I’m praying over those.
Walk Slowly Through the Crowd
That brings me to my next item. Something that my pastor says a lot is, “Walk slowly through the crowd.” Everybody has a problem. Everybody has a worry. Everybody has things.
As I am getting older, I am finding how many things that are burdening the heart — that I cannot and do not share on social media, because it’s just not all appropriate. Some things are private. You just don’t want to share those. Yet, they cause me tears. Some of these things I have tears over almost every single day in my quiet time.
So my walking slowly through the crowd is on Facebook. When I see somebody who posts something, and I see that they are having a hard time, I’ll usually try to Direct Message that person on Facebook. They know that I truly care, and I’ll say, “How are you doing? I care about you. I’m so sorry…” or whatever’s appropriate for that person. If it’s somebody who wants prayer, I’ll say, “How can I pray for you?”
I’ll make a real connection because I just think sometimes that we pile on… We have this mob mentality. Everybody says, “Praying, praying, praying…” Or “I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry.”
But there is a real person on the other end of that status update. We have to walk slowly through the crowd. I do this even at school, but I’m really talking about my habits at the house. We’ll just focus on those for now.
Notecards in a Filebox
Another thing I do is have notecards in a file box. I got this idea from John Maxwell, because he keeps note boxes.
I really like to have quotes and inspiration. I type these up in Word and print them out.
But I have a special place that I put sermons and things that I’ve heard at conferences. I’ll take them out and put the most important things on file cards to file in my note box. Or I scan it into Evernote, and then usually I’ll throw those away but I’ll have a digital copy.
Here’s the thing. You can sit in a great session. You can sit in something wonderful. But if you never return to those things and pondered them, how are you going to act upon them and help your life be better?
So that’s actually something I do in my Prayer and Thinking Chair. I’ll read over sermons. I’ll read over things and pondered them. I’ll post about them. That’s really when I find that I grow.
I also like to keep a list of things that I’ve learned. I try to write this down every day. The end of the day is a great time to write down things that I’ve learned… and I also got that trick from John Maxwell.
Take a Sabbath
Now here is another very important thing — taking a digital and physical Sabbath. So Sundays are my day, pretty much, to be offline. But also, to take that phone and put it in airplane mode.
Because you know, some people work on Sundays, but I don’t.
Their workday will become my workday if I have my phone not in airplane mode.
So when I’m going to church, when I’m just taking a nap or whatever, I’m on Sabbath. I’m taking a break. I just don’t work, and I don’t apologize for it.
You know, there are hotels that are really expensive. They call them Black Hole Hotels, and people check their cell phones at the door so they have no connection to the outside world. People will pay a lot of money for that.
I’m not going to pay a lot of money for that! It’s called, “Take away my phone, or turn off my phone, or get away and just have a break. Don’t do so much. Be a human being and not just a human doing.”
Exercise Your Joy Muscle
Let’s finish up with a thought about our Joy Muscle. Sometimes I get upset at myself for this thought, because I like to see problems and difficulties and challenges as an opportunity to exercise my Joy Muscle.
If you’ve ever worked out, you know that you have to get heavier and heavier weights in order to get stronger and stronger. Well, I don’t know what it is about teaching, but somehow we think that life should get easier and easier as we teach. And it doesn’t.
We getter better and better at it, so we get bigger and bigger problems. The reward for good work is more work. That’s actually in the Bible. So the more you do, the more work you get. And I’m OK with that.
But sometimes it’s just real easy to fall into a rut, complaining or whining.
So today, I’m recording this and getting ready to go to Dubai tomorrow. And last period, I knew I needed that period to do so much. We had poinsettia sales, I had all this poinsettia stuff to deal with for National Honors Society, I had to get my lessons into PowerSchool Learning… I mean, I just had a lot of things to do. Progress reports are going out Monday. I mean, (laughs), I couldn’t imagine how much I had to do. It was just so much!
Well, in pile a bunch of kids. The librarian had locked the library, and so I got all the kids, and I didn’t know they were coming. My room ended up full. I think at one point, I had 21 chairs and 30 kids in there — plus everything else I was doing.
And I thought to myself, “Vicki! Dadgumit! Why did you come up with this Joy Muscle thing, because this is a great opportunity to exercise your Joy Muscle when you get better at having joy and being happy?””
And I kind of failed for a little while before I was able to buck up and get stronger and decide that I was going to have joy, even because it was completely insane and ridiculous and there was no reason for it.
But I was still going to have joy, so I really think it’s important that when we have difficulties in life, that we learn how to have joy.
Now, as a Christian, I’ve got certain things at my disposal that are secrets to joy that I do, certain ways of thinking. I can write more about that. I have a Christian blog. If some of you are interested, email me, and I’ll plan on trying to do that.
But all of us can realize that when we have greater difficulties, that’s our opportunity to become more joyful — to not complain, to not whine, to not fuss. Our lives are not going to get easier, because we’re teachers, and that’s who we are.
I hope some of these thoughts have been encouraging to you. I hope that this week as you have Thanksgiving here in the United States — I know around the world, many of you have Thanksgiving at a different time — but I hope you’ll think about ThanksLiving and what you can do in your life, the small things, to have a more thankful way of living every single day.
Trust me, there are ways to do this. I hope that over time we all get better at it and not worse.
Have such a happy week.
We’ll be feeding — I think this year it’s 80-something people — at our little oak shed out at the farm. That’ll be crazy, but I just love my family so many amazing people in my family that I love. They’re all good cooks, too. We’ll try not to pack on a few pounds, but it might happen.
I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving, and just because it’s Turkey Day doesn’t mean you have to act like a turkey. Some of you might have to exercise your Joy Muscles for Thanksgiving because some of you might have people who are turkeys that you have to deal with.
I hope you’ll find a way to laugh and enjoy your Thanksgiving week, and I hope these ideas will help.
Transcribed by Kymberli Mulford
Vicki Davis, the host of the 10-Minute Teacher shares this episode.
Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored podcast episode.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via cash payment, gift, or something else of value to include a reference to their product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers and are from companies I can recommend. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.) This company has no impact on the editorial content of the show.
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