Mining For Gold

So over the past couple of weeks I have been dealing with, working through, and supporting people with some really difficult issues, both personally and professionally, and the heaviness of these recent issues inevitably started to send my mood into a downward spiral. Finally, late last week this downward mood change forced me to stop, slow down, and reflect on how important it is to focus, intentionally, on life’s small and beautiful moments, which for me is an important exercise in ensuring my day to day happiness. You see, we all have bad days now and then, and we all have tough weeks and difficult stretches at one time or another, and if we’re not careful then this collection of difficult experiences can creep into how we view our lives, our jobs, how we treat and respond to other people, and how we see the world. It’s so easy to let the negative moments frame your days, and it can happen gradually, without you even knowing that your energy for yourself and for others has changed.These difficult recent weeks also happened to coincide with the anniversary of the passing of a very good friend of mine, but interestingly enough that didn’t add to my days in a negative way, it was actually what inspired me to get through these weeks in the right frame of mind.

        This very good friend of mine was amazing at framing and re-framing any experience in a way that teased out the good, and he was a master at turning any negative experience into a positive or an opportunity. He used to say that there is always a best part to a bad day, and it’s just a matter of focusing on that particular piece when things get tough. He used to call this practice, “mining for gold”, and it became a daily habit in his life. It’s funny how easy it is to get caught up in the day to day stresses of our lives, and how easy it is to go days and days without slowing down and embracing life’s small and beautiful moments that are invisibly, and not so invisibly, bombarding us at every turn. It’s hard to find the time and the strength to reframe negative experiences into positive ones, and it’s hard to train your mind to be present and open enough to allow these special moments to change your day for the better….here’s a good example of how one small moment absolutely reframed an emotionally trying day, and how the best part of a bad day won out for me in the end.

        One day not that long ago I was hit with three issues that kind of threw me for a loop…one was a very difficult issue with a student’s health and safety, one was a tough conversation with a friend and colleague of mine, and the final one revolved around some residual feelings that resurfaced regarding a personal incident that had caught me off guard. Anyway, I came home that day feeling down and in a pretty negative space. I decided that the best thing to do was to head back to the gym to try and run it all off. It was just as I was leaving home when this small and magical moment reframed my outlook on life and snapped me back into focusing on what’s truly important. As I was walking out the door my beautiful son, Max, unexpectedly decided to come with me to play basketball, which is unusual for him, and the second we stepped out onto the driveway he grabbed me and gave me a great big hug! Now, that may not seem like much, but for an 18 year old who is at the age where Dad embarrasses him with any sign of public affection, this was huge! All my negative thoughts and foolish distractions melted away during that connection, and with Max’s help, I found my smile again.

         Small and beautiful moments are all around us every second of every day, and if we can purposely focus on these and seek them out then a bad day won’t seem nearly as bad. Look around you as you begin this week and notice the things that can help reframe a negative experience and put it into perspective. We’re all going to feel stress in our jobs, and we’re all going to have those days, but by focusing on the best part of a bad day, or when you purposely start mining for gold, you’ll find that there is beauty all around us in our lives if we only embrace the opportunity to let it in. With that in mind, I can honestly look back at my difficult recent weeks and see that they really weren’t that bad after all…there were difficult moments for sure, but way more incredible ones that I just hadn’t given the attention that they absolutely deserved. That “gold” is just sitting there waiting to be discovered…go get it! Have a wonderful week everyone and remember to be great for our students and good to each other.

Quote of the Week….

Enjoy the little things in life because one day you`ll look back and realize they were the big things – Kurt Vonnegut

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2 thoughts on “Mining For Gold”

  1. Thank you for writing this. It takes a concerted effort sometimes to “mine for gold” but practice makes perfect!

  2. I am always inspired by your reflections, Dan. You are truly one of the very positive souls in this world because you take the time to think, feel and share your thoughts and feelings so openly with others. Thank you for being who you are — so like my friend Larry Ethier who was also a radiant presence in our lives. Best of everything for you and your family as you return to Southeast Asia and discover the beauty of Vietnam.

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