Rearranging chairs at a rehearsal the other day made me think about a former colleague. He did the math when he retired and calculated that he had moved more than 250,000 chairs during his 42-year career. He didn’t work at a convention center or as the stage manager of an orchestra. He was an instrumental music teacher who set up, took down and rearranged those quarter of a million chairs, all in service of teaching many thousands of sixth, seventh and eighth graders the joy of making beautiful music together. That he moved all those chairs is remarkable. What’s truly amazing, though, is that he had essentially the same job, in the same school district, in the same school, in the same classroom, for nearly half a century. I was lucky enough to work with him during the last four years of his teaching career, and while I watched him. . . .Read more . . .
Practice. A word that still sends shivers down my spine. Flashbacks to fourth-grade. I’m at the piano, feet barely reaching the pedals. Six buttons lined up at my left. Lesson book opened to a dreadful exercise with a corny title that was supposed to fool me into thinking it was actual music. Each time I finished pecking my way through the piece, I moved a button to the right. After moving all six buttons, I started all over with the next horrid etude-in-disguise. I couldn’t get away quickly enough. Fast-forward a decade or so. I’m at the organ bench, stretching to reach dozens of pedals, my brain feeling like it will explode as it tries to translate three lines of music from my visual cortex to both hands and both feet. I couldn’t get enough. What changed? I grew up, for starters, and I got to choose to practice the. . . .Read more . . .
Now what do you say? If you’re a parent, this question has likely escaped your lips hundreds (thousands?) of times, as you waited to hear “thank you” in response. If you were ever a kid, hopefully you heard it enough times to make your “thank you” automatic, eventually without your parents’ prompting. Expressing thanks is a polite social convention that makes life more pleasant. And so very much more. Since gratitude is such a significant aspect of positive psychology, it’s also something that positive psychologists study. A lot. Here’s a list of eight benefits of practicing gratitude, primarily from thanks! by Robert Emmons and The How of Happiness by Sonja Lyubomirsky – benefits that go beyond simply being polite. And receiving your parents’ approval. 1. Increased Positive Emotion People who are consistently grateful experience more positive emotion, a key to building resilience and flourishing. They’re generally happier. And they experience. . . .Read more . . .
Parts of my region got so much snow yesterday there’s a campaign to arrest the groundhog that predicted an early end to winter for fraud. Regardless of the weather, I know spring is here: I have this overwhelming urge to start running again. It’s as predictable as the red, red robins bob-bob-bobbing outside. If it’s like the past few springs, though, I’ll have stopped running long before they head south again. The Power of Habit In The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg defines a habit as a choice that we deliberately make at some point, and then stop thinking about, but continue doing, often every day. I made running habit seven springs ago. It lasted almost four years and took me from couch to 5K and beyond, all the way to a half marathon. I replaced it with different habits, unintentionally, partly because the constant white-knuckle test of wills to. . . .Read more . . .
I’m frustrated by being told how professional women should lean. I can’t help but feel like it’s a not-so-subtle way of saying not just that we’re not doing enough, but that we simply aren’t enough. I’ll admit, I haven’t read the book yet. After spending a morning with professional women from my community and being reminded by what they achieve and how they make a difference every day, I’m not sure I need to. A nurse told of her frustration over rules that prevented a young father in intensive care from spending time with his three kids before he died. An attorney shared how off-kilter she felt when the communication style that worked so well for her as an assistant to the district attorney in a large city no longer fit when she moved to the county office of youth and family services. A medical biller, a single mother with one child. . . .Read more . . .