Bring Your Own Sunshine

July 20, 2017

I am currently on vacation. In my absence, I will be re-posting popular blog posts from the past. This blog is now in it’s fifth year! The posts I’ll be sharing with you while I am away come from my first year of writing daily on the From The Deacon’s Desk site.

The following post speaks to the need to hold yourself accountable and not rely solely on others to motivate you, drive you, or make you happy. You need to “bring your own sunshine with you.”

Carol and I have worked as presenters of a marriage preparation program for a number of years. A favorite expression we use, and the theme that pulls the weekend program together is, “Love is a decision.” In several of our presentations, we incorporate the concept that marriage is about waking up every morning and making the decision to love your spouse that day. That is not as easy as it sounds. As Carol can attest, sometimes you may not even like your spouse much that day, but you still make the decision to love him or her. It is about commitment. It is about taking ownership of how you respond to another person and of how you are going to think and act that day. It is not Carol’s responsibility to do something each day that will make her lovable – loving her is my daily decision.

This mindset carries over to many facets of one’s life. I have held several jobs in schools that lend themselves to dealing with conflict resolution. People pull up a chair in my office and vent their frustrations, list their complaints, or detail their concerns. People need a sounding board and often just being heard is very helpful. The vast majority of the issues raised in my office are legitimate concerns that, after talking them through, can then be addressed appropriately.

However, I occasionally hear complaints, from students and staff members alike, about things they view as having been done to them. “That teacher got me in a bad mood” or “That administrator doesn’t motivate me to do my best.”  Should a teacher try to be upbeat and positive all of the time? Absolutely. Should an administrator attempt to motivate staff members to do their best work? Sure. Should our mood or the ability to do our best work be solely dependent on someone else? No. A positive outlook is a decision. Self-motivation is a decision.

I hope we are not just sitting around waiting for someone else’s passion to ignite our own. The passion of others can always fan the flame, but ignition is up to us. If the passion of others does not fan our flame, we are capable of fanning it ourselves. Passion is a decision.

I hope we all have people around us who make us better – who are easy to love, who enhance our good mood, who feed our motivation, and who fan our flame. At the same time, I hope we are not putting all of our eggs in that basket. It is not wise to become totally dependent on what others provide.

I will end with a quote from a former colleague, Perry Page. I was a principal and Perry was a teacher in our Math Department. In his year-end evaluation meeting, I asked him how he was able to be so happy and positive every day. His response, “You gotta bring your own sunshine with you.”

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