3 Ways to Find Gratefulness in the Struggle

I just got back from a run. It was hard today. If you run (or work out) regularly, you know that some days are just harder than others. I also did a pretty hard leg workout yesterday, so I felt like my legs were carrying an extra 10 pounds each. And it was pretty hot outside. You get the picture.

I spent the first 15 minutes of the run STRUGGLING. Basically talking myself through why I “deserved” to cut the run short today…hard workout yesterday. I’m doing yoga later. I’ve been eating “healthier”.

I just about had myself convinced when I passed little Caroline and her mom. Caroline is a sweet, outgoing 6 year old who loves my son, and is mostly seen hanging out with her grandma – riding scooters or bikes and just finding joy in life.

I don’t often see her mom. Her sweet mom, who is no older than me, has days when she can hardly move. Whether she has Rheumatoid arthritis or some other crippling disease, it is obvious that taking a small stroll with her daughter is a huge undertaking.

And here I am complaining in my head about my able body running on this beautiful day. What a perspective checker.

So I spent the rest of my run (still struggling – not even going to pretend that the run got easier physically), reciting things I am grateful for- my safe neighborhood, the beautiful weather, a healthy body, protection from injuries – the list goes on and on. So while the run was still particulary difficult today, the rest of my run was much more enjoyable as I focused on the things I was grateful for that made the run possible!

Here’s what else I thought about when I saw Caroline. Her parents and her lived with her grandparents (I’m sure her mom’s illness had something to do with it) until the house across the street opened up. Her grandparents bought that house (a big ol’ house that needed a lot of work), and spent months fixing it up. They moved in, and within a few months, Carolines’ Grandpa died suddenly.

Man. I’m also thankful for my family..

So where am I going with this?

As an educator, you’re probably in a really tough season. This is probably the hardest year you’ve ever had. I don’t want to diminish what you OR your students are going through. And while I do think it will pass, I don’t know when that will be.

But I’d like to give you three ways to push through using gratefulness:

  1. Each morning, choose a student (or a few) and write down why you are thankful for them by name. If you want, write it down and give it to them. If you want to take it a step further, send an email to their parent.
  2. Spend a few minutes reflecting on why you are thankful to be a teacher. Is it because you get to touch lives? Be off when your own kids are off? Be creative in your lessons? Inspire students to learn? Work with your team? I know it’s hard, but why are you grateful to be a teacher?
  3. Think of at least one student you have inspired or changed in your years of teaching. How did you inspire them? How did they let you know?

Sometimes things are hard and frustrating – and you can think of 100 reasons to throw in the towel. But there are ALWAYS reasons to be grateful. Sometimes we just have to be a little more intentional in our choice to dwell on those things. It doesn’t mean it will make this year easier, but it will make it worth it.

One last thought – gratefulness is contagious. Your fellow teachers are probably struggling too. Maybe make their day a little brighter by modeling gratefulness, and let them know how grateful you are for them!

Thank you for pushing through the struggle this year.

Thank you for loving kids.

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