Even if you are experiencing life's lowest points, you have two choices. You can focus on yourself and all of your pain, or you can choose to focus on encouraging others. The second choice has a far greater healing effect.
I need my students to think outside themselves. Outside of their personal bubbles. Some call it the Golden Rule, but whatever you call it, it is helpful to my own sanity to show compassion to others.
Ten-year-olds are immature. I get that. But I also understand that they are on the cusp of understanding a lot of things. If I can just pull them up to the next level of understanding generosity to others, I will have made a broad stride. The more they allow themselves to wallow in their own thoughts and feelings, the more they will take on the stench of self pity.
I'm not a doctor. I don't speak of this from a medical point of view. But I think that anxiety and depression (I suppose those are medical terms.) might just be staved by thinking about others. Author and teacher Kim Bearden, writes about this in her book, Crash Course, My thoughts here go beyond the writing in her chapter about generosity. At the least we might say that caring for others can be a distraction from our own issues.
Regardless of the personal benefits, we can agree that working with each other and for each other's benefit are better than working against one another. Perhaps we can even agree that working together is more beneficial for the world than only caring about number one. That has certainly been true in our classroom, as it is in Mrs. Bearden's. Everything she says about her students (below) is true in our own class, as well.
At least I hope it is.
At our school, we clap and cheer for one another, and we embrace others' good fortunes. We teach our children that we are in this together and that we must help each other find success. Sometimes it is hard; the weighty challenges that some people face can be more than one can handle alone. But together, we can embrace others and let them know that they are valued. The more we elevate on another, the stronger we all become.
Honestly, we also try to take care of our dirty laundry. Sometimes we have to air our grievances. We circle the wagons, look each other in the eye, and talk out our issues. Sometimes we laugh together...and yes, sometimes there are tears...but we become a closer-knit family when we do. We come out of the situation smelling of the roses of success rather than the stench of self-pity. We solve problems together, rather than airing our dirty laundry in public.
I wonder what the world would be like with more compassion, honesty, and generosity toward our fellow man.