inspiration, life

Comparison – ‘thief of joy’ or useful tool?

comparison 2

“Do not compare yourself to others, for you will become vain and bitter. For always there will be those greater and lesser than yourself.”

– Desiderata

 

Comparison robs us of our joys. At a time when people are posting their end of year successes and New Year goals, or posting pictures of wonderful holidays or romantic NYEs, it can be very easy to compare what we have to what others appear to have. This generally isn’t helpful. We know it isn’t helpful but we still do it….

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Why do we compare? At a basic level it can be a tool to help us evaluate or gauge where we are. Schools do it right from when children are small. As a society we rank movies, compare them to each other, we do the same with sports teams and players. So it’s no surprise that we compare ourselves to the people around us. It can be an effective way to figure out how far along the way to our goals we are.

 

Unfortunately it doesn’t often turn out that way. Usually comparison leads to us feeling dissatisfied with ourselves. On the rare occasion that comparison shows us to be ahead of someone else that also doesn’t really help – we like to feel that we’re better than someone else, but in the end that doesn’t really do anything to improve our own set of skills, or our approach to life.

 

I’ve learned a couple of things about comparison through two communities – the writing community and the teaching community.

 

The writing community is probably the most supportive and nice community I’ve been in. Even more than teachers! And teachers are pretty amazing (shout out to my teaching buddies ). But even though everyone is super supportive, welcoming, and encouraging, as a newbie writer it’s so easy to fall into comparison mode. People share their work and what stage they are at (writing, revising, querying, publishing) and it all seems so unattainable and as if they’ve done it so easily (even though we know that isn’t the case).

 

In contrast (hah!), I don’t compare myself as a teacher. Why not? Continue reading “Comparison – ‘thief of joy’ or useful tool?”

inspiration, life, motivation

The power of living a reflective life

REflection 1

There’s something about truly knowing who you are and why you behave the way in which you do which is deeply liberating. It loosens the bonds of expectation a little. This past year I have learned to be kinder to myself. The biggest step forward I’ve made in quite some time has been to recognise that I’m not where I want to be in some areas, that I’ve been lacking discipline and motivation, and while making plans to improve that I have not beaten myself up over it. This is kind of a first for me – which is why I see it as such a step forward. Continue reading “The power of living a reflective life”

happiness, inspiration, life

Why I’m happy being a Pollyanna

Pollyanna 1“We can’t all be as positive as you!”

 

“Ugh, she’s always so cheerful”

 

“Being optimistic is just being naive”

 

I’ve heard all the above about myself, and about friends. One friend in particular was facing real pushback and scorn from new workmates on her optimistic approach to life and began to wonder if her positivity was really that annoying. I told her the truth – that it was one of her most endearing qualities, that her joy and laughter and boundless optimism had lifted up so many of us and we missed it every day now she no longer worked with us.

 

I like the way my sister once described my positive approach to life, she said: “When you meet people, you’re kind of like a big bouncy friendly puppy and no-one can quite bring themselves to kick you away”. Continue reading “Why I’m happy being a Pollyanna”

history, teaching

History and Identity and how we shape both of them.

 

Something that comes up in my history classes quite regularly is the concept of identity – national identity, personal identity, and how history shapes both of those things. We talk about the significance of events relative to individuals – who is affected? Who is left out? Why is it a significant event for some and not for others?

 

Our past shapes us. Even the most historically illiterate person likely agrees with this to an extent. What is less clear to most is how current social narratives shape the history we tell ourselves, and how that reflects our identities back to us – warped, slightly twisted, or our best sides, filtered through the best Insta-ready looks. Continue reading “History and Identity and how we shape both of them.”

Personal, teaching

An ode to Teenagers. Yes, really.

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Most people I know, when they find out I teach at high school, shudder expressively -“how can you stand it?” they ask with a wry grimace. I get it. Teenagers can be pretty exasperating at times. But I spent these last few days with 27 teenagers on a road trip through the beautiful Bay of Islands to see the history they have learned in our classroom up close, and I can tell you this – we can learn a lot from teenagers.

 

They have an unashamed joy in little things. The beach above is Opononi, in Hokianga. They knew we were stopping there for lunch but, apart from one student who’d been there before, none had any idea of the incredible beauty of the place. They were delighted; they skipped stones, paddled in the shallows, took endless selfies of smiling faces.

 

Selfies get a lot of flack but isn’t it great that teenagers, at the height of human developmental insecurity, still want to record each moment with those they love and in places they deem beautiful?

 

They support each other. I know there’s a massive bullying issue for youth at the moment and for me that’s what makes the majority of teenagers i know, and their care for each other, so special. Words of encouragement and praise drop frequently from their lips. They laugh at each others’ silly jokes. They check in on each other when they know someone’s going through a tough time. Sometimes this takes the form of banter but often it’s a hug, a handshake, a ‘you got this’. Continue reading “An ode to Teenagers. Yes, really.”