By Brian Disney, IPLI Mentor and Superintendent of Archdiocese of Indianapolis
Preparing for the end of this school year has been a different experience because I am leaving my high school principalship after eight years at the helm. I wanted to do something for the kids to remember that would positively impact their futures. After listing over 50 things I wanted to say to them, I decided to use our daily “Words of Wisdom” announcements to share some life lessons based on five themes. I titled my reflections “Be Awesome: Life Lessons for a Happier and More Fulfilling Life.”
Be Humble! The world does not revolve around me or my social media accounts. I’m happier when I think of others more and myself less. When I truly listen and learn from others, I realize that my ideas are not always the best and, by focusing on others, I can grow. Being humble also means that I understand that my accomplishments are due less to my efforts than they are due to the shoulders of the giants on which I am standing, especially my mentors, colleagues, and family. Being humble also means that I am a servant leader who focuses on meeting the needs of others instead of focusing primarily on my own needs.
Be Authentic! I am happiest when I focus on being the best version of myself (instead of a cheap imitation of someone else). If I try to be like someone else, I’m not very effective, and I get frustrated. I have to focus on three things that I can control every day: my attitude, effort, and actions. Being authentic also means not getting caught up in peer pressure but choosing to do what is right even when it is not popular. To be happy, I must live and model what I believe. As John Wooden said, “Be true to yourself.”
Be Grateful! Gratitude is the secret ingredient to happiness and success. When I take time daily to count my blessings, talents, and opportunities, I am significantly happier. I am also more successful because I do what I can do and do it well. On the contrary, comparing myself to others takes the life out of me. Jealousy and envy rob me of my happiness. Some of my successful gratitude strategies include writing down three positives each day, keeping a gratitude journal where I write about experiences of the day, and writing notes of appreciation and encouragement to others.
Be Loving! Spreading love, kindness, and compassion brightens my day. Everyone needs to know they are loved, valued, and respected. When I do this for others, it makes me happier. It costs very little to give a smile, a compliment, or a pat on the back. How I treat people has a significant impact on my happiness. I choose to be kind and encourage others every day. As Maya Angelou says, “At the end of the day, people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.”
Be Joyful! I have a natural tendency to look for things that need to be fixed or improved in people and situations. I have learned that to be happier and have better relationships; I need to focus on the “good” in every person. We are all a combination of strengths and weaknesses. We make good decisions and bad. I must focus on the good and forgive myself and others when they fall. The less I judge, the happier I am. To be joyful, I also most laugh often, especially at myself. It slows down my perfectionist tendencies when I’m laughing at myself for doing something not-so-intelligent. I choose to focus on the positives and the good.
When I am humble, authentic, grateful, loving, and joyful, I make it a GREAT day! That’s my choice, and I hope that it is yours as well.
More information about daily Words of Wisdom is available at Project Wisdom, Inc. www.projectwisdom.com.