How Teachers Can Achieve Happiness

10 Ways Teachers Can Achieve Happiness Inside and Outside of the Classroom

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The stereotype around elementary school teachers is that they are always "peppy" and "happy" and full of life. While this may hold true for some elementary school teachers, it sure does not for all teachers. As you know, having a job in the teaching profession can be quite challenging. Teachers have a lot of pressure on them. Not only do they have to learn and teach the common core standards to students, but they also have the challenging job of making sure that their students are ready to be productive citizens once they get out of school. With all of this pressure, along with the responsibilities of lesson planning, grading, and discipline, the job can sometimes take a toll on any teacher, no matter how "peppy" their nature. To help relieve some of these pressures, use these tips on a daily basis to help you deal and, hopefully, bring some joy to your life. 

1. Take Time for Yourself

One of the best ways that you can achieve happiness is to take time for yourself. Teaching is a very selfless profession and sometimes you just need to take a moment and do something for yourself. Teachers spend so much of their free time scouring the internet looking for effective lesson plans or grading papers, that they sometimes end up neglecting their personal needs. Set aside one day of the week for lesson planning or grading, and set aside another day for yourself. Take an art class, go shopping with a friend, or try that yoga class that your friends are always trying to get you to go to. 

2. Make Your Choices Wisely

According to Harry K. Wong in the book “How to Be an Effective Teacher” the way a person chooses to behave (as well as their reactions) will dictate what their life will be like. He says that their are three categories of behavior that people can exhibit, they are protective behaviors, maintenance behaviors, and enhancement behaviors. Here are examples of each behavior.

  • Protective Behavior –These are people who are full of excuses, who complain a lot, and are good at justifying their behavior. You probably always see them in the teachers’ lounge complaining about everything and anything that is happening in their classroom as well as at the school.
  • Maintenance Behavior – These are the people who are very hardworking and who spend a lot of time wishing (I wish I won the lottery, I wish I had a bigger classroom). They tend to get along well with others, and don’t complain or put people down in the teachers’ lounge. They are concerned with their own individual survival, health, and safety.
  • Enhancement Behavior –These individuals enjoy active learning and participating in groups. They go to every teacher conference and meeting, and are known around the school as a leader.

Now that you know the three types of behavior, which category do you fall into? Which type of teacher do you want to be? The way that you decide to act can greatly increase or decrease your overall happiness and well-being.

3. Lower Your Expectations

Let go of the expectation that every lesson has to go exactly as planned. As a teacher, you will always have misses along with the hits. If your lesson was a flop, try to think of it as a learning experience. Just as you teach your students that they can learn from their mistakes, so can you. Lower your expectations and you will find that you will be much happier.

4. Do Not Compare Yourself to Anyone

One of the many problems with social media is the ease with which people can present their lives in any way they wish. As a result, people tend to only portray the version of themselves and their life that they want others to see. If you are scrolling down your Facebook news feed you may see many teachers that look like they have it all together, which can be quite intimidating and result in feelings of inadequacy. Compare yourself to no one. It’s hard not to compare yourself to others when we have Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest in our lives. But just remember that it probably takes some of these teachers hours to create the perfect-looking lesson. Do your best and try to be satisfied with the results. 

5. Dress for Success

Never underestimate the power of a nice outfit.  While dressing up to teach a bunch of elementary students may seem like a bad idea, research shows that it can actually make you feel happier. So the next morning that you want an instant pick-me-up, try wearing your favorite outfit to school.

6. Fake it

We've all heard the expression, "Fake it 'til you make it." Turns out, it might actually work. Some studies that show if you smile when you are unhappy, you can trick your brain into feeling like you are happy. The next time your students are driving you crazy, try smiling—it might just turn your mood around.

7. Socialize with Friends and Colleagues

Do you find that you tend to be alone a lot when you are feeling unhappy? Studies found that the more time unhappy people spent socializing with others, the better that they felt. If you’re spending a lot of time by yourself, try getting out and socializing with your friends or colleagues. Go eat lunch in the faculty lounge instead of your classroom, or go for that drink after school with your friends. 

8. Pay it Forward

There have been so many studies conducted that show that the more that you do for others, the better you feel about yourself. The sheer act of doing a good deed can make a huge impact on your self-esteem, as well as your happiness. The next time that you are feeling down, try doing something nice for someone else. Even if it's just holding the door open for a stranger or making extra photocopies for your colleague, paying it forward can really improve your mood.

9. Listen to Music 

Studies find that focused listening to music that is upbeat, or even just reading lyrics that are positive, can improve your mood. 

Classical music is also said to have a mood-boosting effect on people. So the next time you’re sitting in your classroom and are in need of a pick-me-up, turn on some upbeat or classical music. Not only will it help to boost your mood, it will help your students' moods as well.   

10. Express Gratitude

A lot of us spend a lot of our time focusing on what we don't have, rather than focusing our time on what we do have. When we do this, it can make you feel sad and unhappy. Try expressing gratitude and focusing all of your attention on the positive things that you have in your life. Think about what is going right in your life, and all of things that you are grateful for. Each morning before your toes even hit the ground, say three things that you are grateful for. Here are a few examples of what you can do each morning to express gratitude.

Today I am grateful for:

  • My health and the health of my family
  • That I have food, clothes and a roof over my head
  • That I have a wonderful job that helps me provide for my family

You have the ability to control how you feel. If you wake up feeling unhappy then you have the ability to change that. Use these ten tips and practice them daily. With practice, you can form lifelong habits that can increase your overall happiness.

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Your Citation
Cox, Janelle. "How Teachers Can Achieve Happiness." ThoughtCo, Feb. 16, 2021, Cox, Janelle. (2021, February 16). How Teachers Can Achieve Happiness. Retrieved from Cox, Janelle. "How Teachers Can Achieve Happiness." ThoughtCo. (accessed July 25, 2021).