betterment – Livia Chan
 

Tag: betterment

This blog post was originally published on TeachBetter.com.

TL;DR:

  • When we open our eyes to see atypical things as gifts, we find more to treasure as we grow our capacity to feel joy.
  • Learn to practice mindful moments of deeper gratitude when we begin to discover and see more things as gifts.
  • We can see words as gifts to us. We can give the gift of words by intentionally uplifting others with our words.
  • The purpose of this new blog series is to share how I see things as gifts. It can lead to greater joy, positivity, and gratitude. See the challenge for the month below!

The best things in life aren’t things. The best gifts in life aren’t things either.

What is the Value of a Gift?

A gift is something given to you. You receive it with no expectation of any return. Gifts have a way of evoking positive emotions, which can lead to happiness, joy, and potentially have a place in your long-term memories. As a child, I remember the feeling of elation when receiving certain gifts. We didn’t grow up with many gifts except for birthdays and Christmas. My parents as immigrants didn’t have a lot of extra money to buy “just because” gifts.

The simple things brought my brother and me great joy. When I was four, I remember our next door neighbor surprising us with Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit gum sticks from time to time. One time, for no reason, these neighbors gave me the most beautiful pink bejeweled purse. I have a number of these childhood memories of gifts that became keepsakes that I still have today, including that purse. These gifts made me feel special. I treasured them for decades and still do. Why? They were thoughtfully picked out for me and I felt grateful for that, probably more than the item itself. I don’t use any of these items today but they hold a special place in my heart as a feeling of being loved. What are your favorite childhood gifts that evoke joy?

Open Your Eyes to See Gifts

As an adult, I still like to receive gifts but I feel more joy to give them. While I am grateful for the tangible things I can hold in my hands, I admit I am often more touched by intangible things like kind gestures and thoughtful actions. For example, what I love to give and receive is the gift of thoughtful words in the form of a simple note, text, or message.

I now see that intangible gifts are all around us. We just need to open our eyes to see them as gifts. And once we do, it is there for us to receive as we wish. It’s boundless. We do not have to wait for others to give it to us. These gifts can be shared with others too.

We have our own set of lenses for which we see the world. What happens and how we feel about our world are interpreted based on a number of factors like past experiences, relationships, attached feelings, and our current state of mind and emotions, for example. I see our interpretations as a choice. We choose how and what we see as a result of our mindset and the lens we wear.

Gifts Lead to Gratitude

Why do I choose to see through a lens of gifts? It is through this lens that gratitude can more easily ooze out of my heart.

Let’s think about how most people feel when they receive a gift. For many, after an element of surprise, there is an instant feeling of happiness (hopefully not disappointment!), and then usually appreciation follows.

Especially with intangible gifts I receive, I like to enter into a mindful moment, a deeper sense of gratitude, and dive into feelings that bring joy. I want to see things as blessings, for when I do, I am less likely to take them for granted. I love to allow these feelings of gratitude to reach my heart and breathe it in to enjoy or be “in” joy.

The Gift of Words

As mentioned above, I love to give and receive words. When I read heart-filled personal messages written to me, I see and receive these words as a gift. As a mindful practice, I take a moment to absorb the words that were carefully and meaningfully chosen just for me. I breathe in the kindness, thoughtfulness, and gratitude in their words. Sometimes I close my eyes too so I can really feel the love. I allow it to sit and rest on my heart like how a blanket warms me on a cold winter’s day. (I know cold because I live in Canada!)

In our busy lives, we read so many words in emails and on our various social media accounts. We speak and listen to many more words throughout our day. How many of these conversations uplift others or make you feel uplifted? Every interaction we have is an opportunity to intentionally uplift others through our kindness and gratitude. We have it in us to give our gift of words. YOU can give your gift of empathetic and uplifting words. It costs nothing but a desire and a bit of your heart, time, and effort. We can shift someone’s day just by the way we say hello to them!

So Many Gifts

I didn’t always see gifts all around me. It’s a more recent discovery and one I have absolutely grown to love. The more I see things as gifts, the more I have to treasure and value. It’s a mindset shift that led me to greater positivity and joy. I am excited to take you on a journey with me. In a monthly blog series called Gift Better, we will explore and dive deeper into various priceless gifts all around us, waiting for us to cherish. I encourage you to put on your Gift Better lenses to begin to see possibilities as you join me. Through possibilities, you will begin to see opportunities. It is my hope that you will begin to shift your viewpoint by expanding your mindset.

Gift Better Challenge

Oh, the opportunities abound! By viewing many more things as gifts, it has changed me for the better. I have always been a positive person but now I am even happier, more positive, and grateful as a result. I feel joyfully alive every day!

Next month, I will share how I see each day as a gift. Until then, here are some ideas for this month’s challenge. Begin to see your authenticity as a gift and words as gifts (both given and received). Pick one or pick all:

  • Pay attention to the words you receive. These words were chosen just for you. Feel the gratitude in your mind, heart, and soul when you receive a gift of words. Breathe it all in as you take a mindful moment to absorb the feelings of kindness and gratitude.
  • Be intentional with the words you say to others. Put on a set of lenses that sees your words to others as a gift, an opportunity to intentionally uplift and make their day a brighter one. Make a positive impact on their day.
  • Give the gift of your true authentic self to others. Find what brings you joy and share it with others.

The Gift of Self

I pledge to give the gift of myself and my authenticity in this Gift Better series. In all of my beloved roles as a mother, wife, daughter, sister, aunt, friend, colleague, coach, and educator, I lead with my heart. It is through my heart and my words, you will learn more about me and my experiences. If we have connected on social media, I’m so glad we are friends. I hope you have learned already that I love to give the gift of words through my deep care and gratitude for our connection. I model what I wish to see in the world. If we have not connected yet, I am looking forward to meeting you. Feel free to DM me on Twitter. Let’s chat!

Change the Way You See the World

My hope is to make an imprint on your heart so that you will begin to see gifts all around you too. It is through this new lens that I hope will lead to more gratitude and ultimately, more joy in your life like I have found in mine.

“All it takes is one idea on how to change the way you see the world to change your world.” – Robin Sharma

I would absolutely love to connect with you to have a conversation. Please feel free to share what resonated with you most or how you met one of these challenges. I am grateful you chose to give me the gift of your time to read my post. Please click here to let me know your thoughts, thank you!

With a heart full of gratitude, Livia


Click on the images to read the blog posts previously published on TeachBetter.com.


#OneWord2021

| 2 Comments

A few years ago, a friend introduced me to choosing ONE WORD instead of making new year resolutions. I wasn’t one for making resolutions anyway because I didn’t believe in waiting until the new year to start working on goals so choosing one word appealed to me much more. Some of my previous words were gratitude, inspire, and breathe. In hindsight, I wish I wrote blog posts to capture my reflections but I am excited to begin a new tradition this year. 

#OneWord2020: UPLIFT

As I reflect on 2020, I grew into my word UPLIFT and became more of an uplifter as the year progressed. Little did I know a full year ago, how important one word could mean to me and others in my circle. Like many, little did we know that weeks after January 1, 2020, there would be a pandemic that would change our lives forever.

UPLIFT has been a word I’ve held near and dear for many years but 2020 really challenged me to be more intentional about it. There were many who struggled in different ways and each time, I tried to uplift them to at least help make their day a brighter one. Whether this was done in person or digitally, it felt like a responsibility to reach out to others when they were down or not feeling well. Even when they were not ill, I made opportunities to reach out to uplift by showing gratitude or kindness. Sometimes this came in the form of a simple emphatic hello with a warm smile and “Great to see you”. Other times, it was a reaching out with a simple “I’m thinking about you.” 

I truly believe that people are placed on our mind or heart for a reason. When they come into our mind, take action, and reach out. How long does it take to send a simple text? Every time I reached out, I was reciprocally blessed with a warm hello back that lifted me up as well. It always made my day a brighter one and I know it brightened theirs too. Can you imagine the impact if five people reached out to five others in one day and those five people reached out to another five people? The impact is exponential! I challenge you to pull out your calculator to do some math. Take 5 x 5 x 5 … How many people would be uplifted in just one week? 

This is a kindness mindset with the intention to uplift through every interaction. It is with intention that we choose to make someone’s day a brighter one with not only the words we use but how we share it. There is no neutral interaction. Every interaction either uplifts or tears down. Choose your words and actions carefully with intention. Choose to UPLIFT.

Despite the negativity that many people feel when they think of 2020, for me, it has been a phenomenal year of growth and change. Becoming a part of the Teach Better Team as an Ambassador and later as the Digital Content Editor has changed my life. The connections and friendships I made in the past eight months have filled my soul. I wasn’t sure what a PLN was and now I know I do not want to live without one. I feel so blessed and full of gratitude to be a part of a family network that so believes in me, supports me, and fills me with joy. Every day, I feel joyfully alive. Every day, I feel uplifted by them.

This brings me to my one word for 2021. I was blessed to attend the Word Party hosted by Lindsay Titus last week. She guided us through a number of valuable exercises. It was here that I wrote down over 100 words to choose from. My word was on that list. Like many of you, it took time to narrow it down to just one. I considered other words but they focussed more on myself rather than extending beyond me. It was important to find a word that included others, my family, friends, students, colleagues, and communities like my PLN. 

#OneWord2021: WHY

When I first told my daughter, she looked at me funny because she thought “Why?” and then I explained my acronym:

When I read Teachers Deserve It by Rae Hughart and Adam Welcome, it became clear to me that I needed to write my own WHY. Why am I so passionate about my role as a teacher? I needed to reflect and reconnect to truly KNOW and redefine my why. Click here to read about my WHY. 

When choosing my word WHY, I considered these questions: 

  • Who’s important? 
  • What do I value?
  • Why do I do what I do?
  • How can I improve?
  • How can I make an impact on people’s lives?
  • How can I make an imprint on people’s hearts?

Beyond these questions, I want to frequently ask myself WHY, to dig deeper and deeper into why, until it goes down to my core values and beliefs. It makes me feel invigorated to see how this word will make a difference this year. I have been given permission to dream so for the past few days, I am considering some audacious goals but I want them to be in line with my WHY. It has to be! It must be in order for me to be true to my authentic self. I feel joyfully alive when I think about possibilities.

Whom will I serve?

I have grown so much personally and professionally in 2020. I learned that before I can serve others well, I need to take care of myself first by practicing self-care. What fuels me and brings me joy? My passions. I am passionate about people, relationships, and uplifting others. I recently learned that showing kindness to others is the best form of self care. Click here to read more about it. 

If I wrote down the names of everyone I know on strips of paper and was asked to prioritize, I will always put my family on the top. I have a deep and intense love for my family.

My friends are a huge component to what also makes me feel joyfully alive every day. Our connection warms my heart. I thoroughly enjoy being a part of every community – school, district, PLN, my Teach Better family network, and my ringette family. Any community I am a part of, I want to invest myself, add value, and serve.

How does my WHY align with my purpose?

With 2020 being a big year of growth, I want to continue to discover and uncover my purpose in the varied roles I play in all of my communities. It’s important I figure out my meaningful purpose so that my mindset and actions are aligned with it. I want to be intentional and make a positive impact on who I reach and what I do in the time I am given. So with every thought, action, and interaction, my desire is that it’s in line with my passions, vision, and purpose..

Yearn for better.

Working together to better ourselves, each other, and the world around us.

This has been my motto for about ten years now. I am in constant pursuit of betterment. It starts with me as an individual. I strive to seek, find, and create opportunities for growth that challenge me and place me outside of my comfort zone. For it is really in the next zone, our stretch zone, that we truly grow. I made a commitment to exhale fear and inhale courage… to step through any open doors. When there aren’t any doors open, I will continue to create them for myself if it aligns with my purpose and passions. I learned from Atomic Habits by James Clear to get 1% better each day to gain continuous improvement. As a team member of the Teach Better Team, I fully endorse their motto: Better today than yesterday. Better tomorrow than today.

I did consider keeping my #OneWord2020: UPLIFT for a second year but I realized that no matter what, words previously chosen with such significant meaning don’t ever leave you – especially if you lived and breathed that word every single day. They stay forever. So I excitedly add WHY to my list. I am looking forward to discovering how this chosen word will help guide and shape me. I know I will continue to build on my personal and professional growth from 2020. I am grateful for my longtime relationships as well as my new friendships and look forward to creating new connections while growing existing ones. I know I can count on their support to push me to be better and to hold me accountable to my #OneWord2021: WHY.

As always, I enjoy connecting so please feel free to leave a comment to share your #OneWord2021, a link to your post, or a short story about it. I appreciate you for reading my thoughts and would love to have a conversation about your word!

With a heart full of gratitude,


Teachers on Fire

Teachers on Fire – January 3, 2021
I had the great privilege to be on live with eight other amazing educators to share our #OneWord2021. Click here to watch.

We just enjoyed nine weeks of remote learning. It was exhausting but rewarding. Next week, we will begin a hybrid of in-class instruction for students who choose to return and a continuation of learning at home for others. So many firsts during this pandemic – first time teaching remotely, first time staying at home in isolation, and first time staying away from friends and loved ones to keep us all safe. I recognize there are many more firsts we have experienced. The next first time is teaching seven students in person while also supporting 17 others at home. It’s another change, another new adventure and that’s where mindset matters. How I approach this will affect my thoughts and feelings about it. Is it a problem, challenge or opportunity?

In a very short period of time, everyone around the world has had to adapt to something new, something different. How well we adapt to that change can be determined by our outlook about it. What is it we tell ourselves about this new situation? Is it a problem? Is it a challenge? Or is it an opportunity – a possibility of making the situation the best situation possible?

I have often drawn this out for not only my students for many years but also my own children at home during our discussions or family meetings. I often think about the things I share repeatedly over the years in different circles and this is one of them. Every day, things happen; it’s a situation. When we interpret the situation, we put our own lens on it – either positive or negative. There is no real in between or neutral and I would be open to discussing this aspect further with you should you like to engage. Depending on the outlook we choose (and I truly believe it is a choice we CAN control and a choice we make), it will affect what we think, how we feel, and how we respond to the situation. So, I am always preaching that we can choose the happy route. Why would you decide to choose to be unhappy? I choose happy.

My husband once asked me if the cup in my world is always half full (and not half empty). I try to live my life with it half full. Do I slip sometimes? Of course! But I truly believe there is a silver lining if you look hard enough for one. Sometimes you just have to look harder than other times.

So this brings me back to when we first found out schools will be closed indefinitely after spring break. It was a situation we all interpreted in our own way. My natural instinct was to see things in a positive light. I almost always try to find a piece of gratitude first. What am I thankful for? How can I use this as an opportunity and make the most out of this situation? Staying at home meant everyone we care about would be safe so that’s a definite positive. Having more time at home meant that I was given the gift of time to dive into my passions of people, relationships, teaching, learning, writing, and leading as I mentioned in my About page. During this time, I have:

  • connected with many people I didn’t have the same time for before to rekindle and build on relationships. I keep a list of people I would like to connect with and mark the dates we last connected. If it’s been about a month, I check in with them again and update my document. It has been such an incredible pleasure to reconnect with some of the students in my very first teaching assignment 21 years ago when they were in grade 2. They are now 28 years old!
  • developed a remote teaching program that I feel proud of and know my students are continuing to grow from the activities and feedback I provide.
  • spent many hours each day supporting colleagues with their questions about different digital platforms and provided training. With my previous experience on the Staff Development Team in Learning Technologies, I have expertise I can share. I loved this extra teaching opportunity to support colleagues because I saw it as a gift of connection and a way to lead. Had I not have spent the time supporting them, we probably would not have had the same opportunity to further develop our relationship. I have said this often, “It makes me happy to help!” and it truly does!
  • continued my professional learning. It has hit an all-time high with the hours of professional development I enjoy each day! I recently discovered the Teach Better Team (They are amazing people with the same passion about betterment. I am impressed with what they offer – podcasts, blog, video chats, Twitter chat, Facebook group, and the list goes on!). I have participated in their free Better at a Distance 12-part webinar series. I learned about the Grid Method and have been using it for our Multiplication unit and absolutely love it! This will continue to be a life changer especially in our new hybrid of learning at home and school because students are empowered with ownership over their learning. The bigger life changer though is the new community for which I now feel like I belong – literally everyone I have met on the Teach Better Team is so passionate. They help educators TEACH BETTER and I am better because of them. Their passion is truly inspirational and contagious! Also, I have participated in more Educhats on Twitter than ever before and am learning so much from others who push my thinking: #MasteryChat #ATAssessment #EdAdventures #EducationNeverDies and loving it! When I tell others about how I have been spending my time, I share how my brain is on fire and my heart is ablaze from all the Pro-D because learning is one of my passions.
  • excitedly purchased my own domain name and started writing here on this blog. I am so thrilled and blessed to have this extra time to dive in to all my passions! Well, all except ringette since rinks are closed and the season is over.

Another thing I always say is, “Don’t focus on the problem. Instead, focus on the solution.” We can expend our energy only ONE way so whether we spend it focussing on the problem or instead, focusing on possible solutions, only one path will bring us closer to a more positive feeling at the end. I also feel the same way about “worrying”. Stop focussing on worry and instead, focus on what you are going to DO about the situation to make it a better one. There is only so much time and energy. I often say, “You can’t change what already happened. What are you going to do about?” Begin taking action.

Does this mean that we should never focus on the problem then? No. Simply put, it is important to dive into the problem to understand it before we can move on to possibilities for solutions. We need to invest time to think about the problem so we can come up with ideas that make sense but while we are in this process, we need to be mindful to live here for the reason of finding possible solutions and not to dwell in the negative too long. I have witnessed people dwell and dwell for a long time and perpetuate feeling miserable. Perhaps this is their process of getting to the solution-making stage so that’s okay but just be cautious and mindful of how long you stay there. Honour the purpose of being there to look for possibilities and to find or make opportunities but then move on.

So what if it’s not in my nature to be positive? How can I become more positive? Is this natural tendency something I can change over time? Yes! Our will and our minds are powerful and plastic; we can change. We have heard many stories where people have faced harsh adversity and have had to relearn how to walk or talk after trauma, for example, but yet they are able to overcome it and rise above it. Why? Is it because they chose to have a positive outlook? Is it because they chose to see the situation not only as a problem but as an opportunity as they adapted to change? Of course it took grit and perseverance too but if they can retrain their brain to accomplish feats once unimaginable, we surely can alter the way we naturally see things in a more positive light. It will take effort. It will take time but you can do it. I believe you can. You just need to believe you can too.

So now that we are reopening schools next week, I choose not to see it as a problem. I have read Facebook threads that go on and on with complaints about reopening and questioning why. I understand some of the reasons why and I don’t need to understand all of them. It is a fact that schools are reopening and no matter how much we talk about why, they are still reopening. I only have so much time in a day. Time keeps ticking every single second. I would rather spend that time focussing on finding a solution (or a plan for the return of students in person) than diving in to more negativity that does not solve any issues. I choose to see it as an opportunity to reconnect with some students in person while also continuing to build relationships with my remote learning students. They are all still learning from home except some are attending school 2/5 days rather than 5/5 days of remote learning. So, I begin by asking the following questions:

  • What do my students need from me and each other in order to feel safe and secure?
  • What are the most important aspects of their social-emotional learning and mental health now?
  • How can I elicit students to be leaders in building up our classroom community further as we are together but apart?
  • How can I best honour the learning for both sets of children?
  • What can we do to make in-class instruction meaningful and memorable?

At this point, I have more questions than solid answers still but regardless, I have seen the whole education community rise to the challenge to flip our classroom from inside four walls to outside in the virtual world within a week. I have seen a lot of sharing of ideas and the drive for collaboration to support each other. I have seen resilient educators who come up with inspiring ideas. So with the new change of reopening of schools, I know I am not alone. My fabulous colleagues share ideas and support me as I do them. We can do this together as we have proven to the world when we moved to emergency remote learning in such a short period of time. Working together makes us better.

I am very excited to welcome my students back to school!

We have been given the gift of in-person teaching time in June as schools reopen. I have taken for granted the time we had with our students before spring break. I have learned from it so I will not take June for granted. My time with them is limited also because I will be leaving the school this year only after being there one year. I only have one month left to teach them, reach them, spend time with them, laugh with them, enjoy them, and love them. So unfortunate that I cannot hug them. I will make the most of this opportunity so I challenge you to do the same and not just fill the time – make it fun, meaningful and memorable. Kids deserve it and I bet you’ll get something out of it too! Your mindset matters. It was always my personal commitment every day to do something fun or to teach something new. I made this pledge to them at the beginning of the year. They counted on it. Every day, they knew we would be doing or learning something new and some expressed this was one of the reasons why they loved school; they looked forward to seeing what the “new thing” was each day. June should not be different. I will choose to see this situation as a new opportunity with many possibilities to not only fill time but to do something memorable with the special time we have left.

Embrace the change. Rise to the occasion. We need to be better and do better for our students. It’s our NEW September together. Choose to do the little things you would do in September – read my tweet about distancing signs. Let’s make the most of this change and new adventure by choosing our positive set of lenses. You can control the outcome of this – choose happiness.

I would love to hear your thoughts. Please share by commenting on this post or send me an email at livchan.com@gmail.com. I appreciate you for reading my thoughts today! So grateful!

“A positive attitude gives you power over your circumstances instead of your circumstances having power over you.” – Joyce Meyer

Livia Chan ©2021. All Rights Reserved.
Powered by WordPress. Theme by Phoenix Web Solutions