Man, what a teacher experience can be. I learned a great deal about myself, how I operate, and the steps I need to take to become a better person while living in Ibaraki. I am actually grateful for the loneliness, silence, and space that the countryside has to offer. No distractions, no smart phones; just me and my thoughts. All of this time to learn about myself; to create myself.
I think humans fear this sort of extended isolation; this detachment from the outside world. It is scary isn’t it? Who wants to be alone? No one does, so we fill up alone time with Facebook, YouTube, and Netflix. Or opt for something more personal and hang out with friends. But let’s be real. When you filled up all that lonely time, at the end of the day do you know anymore about yourself? There has to be a balance between solitude, distractions, and human interaction. Here are the things I learned while juggling all three in 2013:
I love to think. I could probably spend a whole day lingering in the past, losing touch of the now, and pondering about the future. My mind’s always running. And I’ve come to realize that it can get the best of me. I spend too much time over thinking about the littlest things. What to eat for dinner? Should I buy that rug on sale? Should I call that chick I just met? What if she doesn’t pick up? I waste hours on thoughts like these. As I finished packing my suitcase on Christmas Eve, getting ready to head to Tokyo for winter vacation, it wouldn’t close. Then it hit me, I was doing too much. Making my Life more complicated than it needed to be. It was time to simplify.
That Christmas Eve I made an early New Year’s resolution. I vowed to simplify my Life. I would be more decisive, learn to recognize my thought patterns, and limit over thinking. Since I’ve started to incorporate this mentality into my life, I have physically felt a decrease in stress and anxiety. I have realized how much a waste of time dwelling is. Gradually, I’m learning to recognize these thought patterns and avoid them. If you’re experiencing similar problems and would like to simplify, drop me a line and I’ll give you some tips on what I do.
2. Production + Anxiety Don’t Mix
Sometimes at my junior high school, the JTEs will throw me a curveball right before or during a lesson. When that happens, of course some feelings of anxiety or worry may set in. But if I dwell on that feeling, I won’t be able to perform the requested task successfully. Best to just take a deep breath and go for it. Same thing goes for blogging. If I’m writing a post while worrying about planning tomorrow’s lesson, an hour’s worth of writing becomes three hours. (One of the reasons why I’m behind on this one.) I go to bed with neither the post nor the lesson plan completed. I learned that I just have to take one thing at a time and know that in my mind, things will turn out OK. Maybe some people enjoy the thrill of working close to the deadline. I just don’t see how you can produce to your highest potential that way.
3. A Month and It’s Yours
This summer I started some goal setting routines borrowed from Scott Dinsmore’s website, Live Your Legend. It’s a very awesome website for those looking to make some headway in their passion pursuits. In addition to charting out my long-term goals, I started to plan monthly, mini-goals. These were little things that I wanted to become actual habits in my life. I started with choosing water over other drinks at lunch and dinner for a month. Now water seems to be the only thing I drink nowadays. Next was flossing. I did that every morning for 30 days. Now it’s routine. The month after that was healthy eating (which I’m not particularly good at). Now I have a salad almost everyday, in addition to the super healthy school lunch. I’ve added many good habits to my life by picking one small thing to focus on monthly. It motivates me to go ahead and accomplish the bigger goals in Life.
4. Just Smile
Lastly, I can’t say this enough. A smile is the ultimate mood changer. Positive and negative emotion just can’t exist simultaneously. When you’re not having a good day, smile. When the fridge is empty, smile. When you stub your toe and proceed to hit the top of your head at the office threshold (daily), smile through the pain. And add a laugh in there too. External factors don’t have to control how you feel within. It’s all up to you.
Well these are just a few of the things I have learned in 2013. What have your experiences taught you? Let me know.