*Ms. Pierce is a teacher in my school who cares deeply for our students. You can see it in the way she puts great effort into her history lessons, working long hours to ensure her students are engaged yet well-paced, challenged yet not overwhelmed or frustrated. Many a day, I will leave our school hearing her on the phone with parents, passionate about getting their sons and daughters motivated, organized, and involved in their academic progress. She is also at work before most of the staff, decorating her classroom to reflect whatever historical lesson is next on the syllabus.
Yet I also see another side to Ms. Pierce: she will regularly yell at the children after the last bell rings to end the school day, the muscles in her neck straining, her face flushed with emotion, reminding the students to walk down the stairs, not jump—and to do so in an “orderly fashion.”
Ms. Pierce will often come into my room towards the end of the day and tell me, “I need a drink” and announcing “I’m done–checking out, shutting down, over and out.”
There’s a bit of Ms. Pierce in all of us: wanting the best in this life, giving it our all, and then—at some point—shutting down (or wanting to shut down). We care, oh we care so much and then we exhaust ourselves, feeling like our efforts don’t make a shred of a difference, so why bother? Or we push and push to change something and grow resentful while we simultaneously lean towards self-destructive behaviors.
Everyone wants something on this planet Earth. For some it’s more money, for others it’s better health, a better relationship, a fitter body. Ms. Pierce wants our students to walk downstairs in an orderly fashion each day at 4:05 PM. All of these things we want—whatever these things may be—we want because we believe we will feel better in the having of them. It’s the feeling we are after: The feeling of driving the new car, the feeling of that first kiss, the feeling of the toned arms (and for Ms. Pierce, the feeling of our students walking down those stairs in an orderly fashion).
There’s a famous quote by Dr. Wayne Dyer:
“You cannot always control what goes on outside. But you can always control what goes on inside.”
If we want to alter the course of our lives to acquire the feeling of what we desire, we must make how we feel matter most. Our emotions are on a continuum with love on one end and fear on the other. Each morning we wake up, we have a choice to make our feelings a priority. When we prioritize our own emotional wellness, we are in a better place to help others.
Ms. Pierce only wants that drink because she has made her well-being a low priority. And no doubt, a little imbibing will help her relax, returning her to a better feeling state (at least, temporarily).
But if Ms. Pierce woke up and decided that her well-being mattered first and foremost, her moment-by-moment choices would alter until she momentum with the feeling she wanted all along. She might decide to go for a walk before heading to work, or she might meditate, enjoy a cup of her favorite coffee or tea while she listened to soothing music. These small changes—motivated by a desire to make her well-being a priority—would create a different law of attraction in her external world. By letting go of altering the children’s behavior, the students would see a more relaxed and happier history teacher. And perhaps, just perhaps, our students wouldn’t feel so eager to stomp down the stairs past her door at the end of the school day.
How you feel matters, so make your inner state a priority. Reading these words now, you can choose to relax your shoulders and smooth your forehead; you can choose to take a deep inhalation and focus on things you find pleasing. The butterfly effect of these small inner changes creates unseen yet impactful, significant consequences to the world around you.
*Name is altered for privacy purposes.