Monthly Mentor

Patricia Leavy (November)
Each month, a different member and NAEA awardee is the guest writer for the NAEA Monthly Mentor Blog. Patricia Leavy, PhD is an independent scholar and bestselling author. She was formerly Associate Professor of Sociology, Chair of Sociology & Criminology, and Founding Director of Gender Studies at Stonehill College in Massachusetts. She has published over twenty-five books, earning commercial and critical success in both nonfiction and fiction, and her work has been translated into numerous languages. She is internationally recognized as a leader in arts-based research and research methodology. Click "GO" to read her full bio.

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September 10, 2018

How to Maintain a Positive Attitude and Outlook

From Chapin Schnick

When I “crowd-sourced” for post content my friends, family, and colleagues might wish to see during my time as monthly mentor, one suggested, “how to maintain that incredibly positive attitude and outlook you have”. I think a lot of my cheerful, we-can-make-anything-work attitude is genetic, but I am happy to share my favorite methods for remaining positive, no matter the hand you are dealt: personally or professionally.

Keep a gratitude journal. It definitely sounds hokey, but reflecting during times when you feel stuck, or sad, or listless, can truly remind you of what good there is in your world and the positive events that led you to today. As someone who can be completely consumed by anxiety to the point of being immobile, I am especially understanding of how difficult this can be… but sometimes, being reminded of what makes me happy, is the only thing that gets me moving, again!

Get outside.  As a lifetime athlete, I have always appreciated the outdoors and sun (in moderation & with sunscreen, as I tend to burn within minutes!). More recently, though, I have fallen in love with hammock camping and backpacking, thanks to an Indianapolis-based women’s adventure company, called DNK Presents. What are your favorite outdoor activities?

Chapin Hammock CampingChapin Hammock Camping

Call a family member or close friend (especially if it’s been a while since you last talked). When I talk to my mom or dad, I can feel my blood pressure fall, my breathing slow, and a general wave of relaxation hits me. I love to be reminded that, no matter what is happening or has gone wrong, my people are there for me with a compassionate, listening ear, and love me wholeheartedly.

Find a form of movement that you enjoy. I was a multi-sport athlete, growing up, so I am conditioned to enjoy competition and sweaty pursuits. As I have gotten older, though, lifting weights several times a week isn’t as exciting to me, nor is the idea of running long distances as I did in my marathon-running days. Plus, commuting an hour and thirty minutes, round-trip, to work each day means that evening recreational leagues aren’t always a practical addition to my schedule. Yoga has helped to keep me physically-fit in recent years, as well as served as a form of meditation and stress relief. I hope you can find your happy movement, too!

Yoga at Gorgo Fitness Magazine’s Camp GorgoYoga at Gorgo Fitness Magazine’s Camp Gorgo

Place your attention on someone else’s happiness. When I seek ways to add joy to the days of my friends, family, and colleagues, I can feel my own stress lessen and those “happiness endorphins” kick in. What can you do to make someone in your life smile, this week?

Look for the positive in every situation. I have experienced a great deal of personal tragedy in the past few years, but in every instance I did my best to find something positive that came as a result of the offending, less-than-ideal situation. More often than not, there is a light that is gleaned from a situation, like perhaps taking advantage of an opportunity you might otherwise have ignored, freeing up some time in your busy schedule (or maybe your bank account), or simply serving as a reminder of what is truly important to you.

Chapin's Main Source of Happy - Her Husband and ParentsChapin's Main Source of Happy - Her Husband and Parents

And finally (and perhaps most important in our field)...

Give yourself permission to create!
As educators whose main focus is to encourage the creativity and self-expression of others, we often are guilty of not creating for ourselves. Not only can the occasional creating session keep you fresh in your preferred forms of expression, but it exercises your strengths as a problem solver and can provide a sense of accomplishment when feeling overwhelmed by the stresses of our ongoing to-do lists. What are your favorite ways to create?

- CS

 

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