We tend to focus on the negative. That’s human nature really, negative emotions on average are stronger then positive ones. They affect us more and we think about them a lot.
It’s also the reason why we learn so much from our mistakes: we want to avoid making them again. Making mistakes and the consequences thereof usually make us feel bad, inferior, and unhappy. Depending on the nature of the mistake and the importance to us that feeling will be stronger or weaker, and will go away faster or slower. But it’ll always be there, even if it’s just nagging a bit on the background.
“Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.” Dr Seuss.
Learning from our mistakes is good. But that’s not what Dr Seuss was talking about with this quote. What he said is that we should always cherish the good memories, even if things ended badly. Or just ended.
Does that mean you can never mourn? Of course not. But even when mourning it is good to also remember all the fond memories of someone. That’s why on a funeral or wake, people start smiling and laughing after a while. It works.
But he also, or even mostly, thinks about experiences of a temporal nature. Jobs, relationships, holidays, stuff like that. When you can remember the good things and relive them, you don’t really lose them anyway. Not completely.
Frustrations get in the way of joy.
That’s not always easy. I’ll give you an example. The last few years I had a teaching gig in the same school I got my teacher’s degree. I’ve started to lose my heart to this place, met my current girlfriend there and was really motivated and enthusiastic about things.
Sadly the management was not that good. The head of school was all about politics and giving the sweet jobs to her friends and the suck-ups. In fact, all junior managers left within a timespan of 2 years because of this very fact. I ended up leaving myself because I got less hours, and my best subject (Photoshop) was given to someone who’s not as good as I was. That’s not anger speaking, that’s just a fact. Hell, it’s probably the understatement of the year.
It’s frustrating. Especially because current management still does not see this person is really bad at what he does. It’s hard for me to understand why they are so stubbornly supporting him, while he will most likely cause them to lose the right to teach this particular subject. But I try to let it go.
Try to focus on the good parts.
And I did that by trying to focus on the good again. I’ve went through my archives of all the work my former students did. Magnificent Photoshop designs, cool video editing, fantastic audio tracks … I really was privileged to teach some really talented people and had fun doing it.
I also made the decision to never want to work for that place again, even if they switch management. That way I can leave the negative behind me and cherish all the great memories I do have. Both as a student and a teacher.
Of course it helps that I work at another place barren of politics where I get high approval ratings from my students and I have fun teaching again.
And I’ll focus on all the good. On the great students I had, some who became my friends later. On some awesome colleagues who I am still in touch with. On the girls from administration who always were there when you needed them. On some great classmates, who put a smile on my face when they announce they get married or became a mum. On my own teachers who still are an inspiration. And of course on the best thing that ever happened to me: meeting my girlfriend there.
It’s easy to be sad because all that came to an end. In fact, for a long time I was just that. And some moments I still feel the loss. It’s only human.
But I’ll focus on the good, and on the fond memories.
Perhaps it’s time to have a reunion with some of my teacher’s pets :p
Or just check the design again and smile.comments powered by Disqus