It is important to feel at home in your world. Wherever you work, shop, or visit, it is possible to bring your joy with you. The best part about feeling at home is that it is something you can create in your experience, regardless of where you find yourself. All it takes is a shift in your perspective.
The key to feeling at home is carrying a sense of familiarity and warmth into every environment. Many of us have been lead to believe that we are victims of circumstance. We often think that life is a series of reactions, based on how the world around us is acting toward us. This line of thinking leaves out the fact that we get to choose how we respond to life. This choice is more valuable than we often realize.
We all know people who light up every room they enter. It is important to honor these people for the gifts they share. It is also wise to see them as examples, rather than exceptions, of what life can be like. These examples of kindness have the effect they do because of the choices they make, not some magic that only they possess. We all have the magic of joy within us. We just need to trust it enough to share it.
One of the most important roles a teacher can have is to make students feel welcome. This takes a willingness to let go of the past and consistently look toward the future, and what is possible for our students. By shining a light on the best in these young people, it is easier for them to see and believe that they are capable of great things. The option to choose to love unconditionally can have transformative effects on people.
I recently witnessed the positive effects of bringing a welcoming attitude to one of my lunch groups. For a couple of weeks the group had been getting more contentious with one another. During that time I had given them a lecture on bullying, as well as used humor to shine light on the situation. Last week, however, I was tired and was not looking forward to seeing this particular group of rambunctious fifth graders.
Rather than run and hide, or take my frustration out on the students, I decided to sit quietly for a few moments before they arrived. I calmed myself down and reminded myself that I would be done with the group in 35 minutes. I sent silent blessings of appreciation to each of the students, and then sat for three minutes in silence.
When the three minutes were up, the door flew open. In walked four of the nine students. One them immediately told me that he was going the be the nicest he had ever been. Another suggested that we come up with rules for the group and write them on the board. It was amazing to see these young people coming up with their own solutions to the conflicts that had been arising in the group.
I sprung to life, feeling the enthusiasm and care that these boys were demonstrating. When the others arrived we came up with three rules together. Anyone who violated the rules three times would return to the cafeteria for the day. They would be allowed to return the next week, no questions asked. We then commenced with a game of hangman. Remarkably, no one had to go to the cafeteria. After one student received two strikes, he made a sincere effort not to get booted. The group had come together as a family, in a whole new way.
During the holiday season, and any time of year, it is worth making yourself at home in your world. Bring your joy and share your gifts. Treat every stop on your journey as a holiday party, an opportunity to wish everyone well, and appreciate the gifts they bring. Treating the world like your home turns strangers into family, and opens you up to opportunities to enjoy life to the fullest. Remember, bringing the warmth of home to the outside world is always a choice that you get to make.
Photo (Top): Extend kindness to everyone you meet. You will turn strangers into friends, and create your own success in the process. Behavior Interventionist, Mitch Casto, encourages our students to feel at home and share their best with everyone in the community.
Edward Biagiotti is the Inclusion Specialist for Culver City Unified School District. He is also co-host of the popular radio show, Funniest Thing! with Darrell and Ed, to find out more go to www.DarrellandEd.com.