Make an Intention to Hunt for the Good
After last week’s blog I started to think about the idea that our brains are hardwired towards a negativity bias. But I also know that it’s possible to change the neural pathways of our brains through hunting the good or finding positive in situations. So how does this cycle work in our classrooms? Why if we KNOW these things, does it not suddenly show up as habit in our classrooms? The short answer is that it takes time to rewire our brains. But “neurons that fire together, wire together” so the more you keep hunting the good, the more automatic this can become. I don’t know about you, but knowing that I have some control is empowering!
Negativity Bias Cycle
So, here’s a little chart showing how our brains automatically cycle through during a class. See if you have ever experienced this…I know I have (perhaps more recently than I would like to admit!)
- We start with a tendency toward looking for the negative (remember, this is an non-conscious phenomenon, don’t be hard on yourself for this).
- A student does something that triggers you.
- You feel any combination of body sensations, thoughts and/or emotions and then a script may even start playing in your mind. (link to script blog).
- As the teacher, you react (possibly unskillfully).
- Negative pathways are reinforced in your brain AND in your students’ brains.
Hunting for the Good Cycle
This cycle demonstrates what can happen when we show up differently in our classrooms. When we start with the intention to “Hunt for the Good” our brains may be more inclined to try to find the “good” in the situations we are encountering (in the classroom or in life). This sets us up for a greater likelihood of
- We set an intention to try to hunt for the good in situations we encounter.
- A student does something that triggers you. This is usually the same thing that would happen if we weren’t hunting for the good.
- You feel any combination of body sensations, thoughts and/or emotions and then a script may even start playing in your mind. This is also usually the same as before.
- Because you are hunting for the good, you are more likely to respond skillfully.
- Different pathways are created in your brain AND in your students’ brains.
So if you notice in both scenarios, the student behavior or trigger doesn’t necessarily change. In fact, at first even our body sensations, thoughts and scripts could be signaling to us in the same way.
But here’s the difference….
We have a different intention when we are hunting for the good. And making that simple shift over time will allow us to more easily respond to the real behavior instead of react to the perceived misbehavior.
There’s also an added bonus to what happens when we begin to hunt for the good and to respond differently to triggers: not only do our neural pathways start to change, but our students’ may change too!
When we provide them with a different experience than what they were expecting, their brains create a new pathway based on that new experience. If they have enough of those experiences, they may even start to shift their behavior!
Interestingly, the only thing that happened in the second example was how we approached the situation. We do have the power to shape our own experiences, we just need practice so that hunting for the good becomes more of our default mode!
Practices to Get Started…
So if you want to start trying to hunt for the good, here are a few practical ways to get started:
One Minute for Good
Take a minute at the start of your day to visualize all of the things that either went well OR you anticipate going well OR that your are grateful for.
If I’m having a difficulty finding some good, I’ll repeat the words, “I don’t have to _________________, I GET to _________________ ” and that can sometimes help to shift my perspective.
Set an Intention
Before your day starts, set an intention to try to hunt for the good. Write the intention down and keep it somewhere visible. Get in the habit of checking in with this intention regularly.
You can use the following wording or create your own. The important thing to remember about intentions is that they are what you “intend” to do. If it doesn’t happen perfectly throughout your day, reflect on possible reasons and try again when you are ready.
It has been shown that writing down three things you are grateful for some time throughout your day is a great way to help your brain more automatically hunt for the good.
This is also a great practice to introduce to students as a way for them to start finding good in their lives. The more we can help them shift their brains to looking for the positive as young people, the more automatic it will become as they mature.
So I hope that you create an intention to “Hunt for the Good” and begin to see how the entire classroom dynamic can change when we show up with a different, deliberate intention.
Have any experience with intention creating? Want some support in hunting for the good? Having problems finding anything good about your teaching job? We’d love to hear your voice and support you in your self-care journey over at We are Teaching Well.
If you’re looking for some immediate support with creating intentions and other ways to create a self-care routine in LESS THAN FIVE MINUTES A DAY, check out this FREE GUIDE….4 Simple Stress Solutions that Reduce Teacher Burnout and Increase Well-Being and Self-Care in 5 Minutes a Day!