Archive for Sunday, June 23, 2002

Psychologist tries to drain educators’ stress

June 23, 2002


Mark Hood closed a Lawrence school district leadership conference by sharing insights on how staff can grapple with the stress of rising job demands.

The Topeka psychologist and motivational speaker brought no magic pill to ease the pain of Supt. Randy Weseman's edict that student performance must increase next year.

Hood delivered no stoic speech about putting noses to a grindstone. He didn't even try to sell his new book, "Live Before You Die." In fact, he urged the 50 principals and administrators at the gathering not to buy a copy of the 17-chapter collection of essays on "being human" until typos could be fixed in the second edition.

Indeed, he downplayed the value of books designed to help people lead more fulfilling lives.

"I don't like self-help books," he joked. "If self-help worked, everybody would be happy."

Hood, who worked for 13 years in psychiatric hospitals and trained at the Menninger Clinic in Topeka, said there was no magic formula for finding happiness at work.

He offered a simple, common-sense remedy for adversity: laughter. Got an antagonist at the office? Deflate the adversary with a joke, he said.

"It's important to have a healthy, mature sense of humor," he said.

He warned that attitudes and behaviors of naysayers were extremely contagious.

Remember, he said, everyone has the opportunity to choose his or her attitude in any circumstance. If possible, make jewels from garbage.

"If you have to take out the trash ... have fun with it," Hood said.

He said many people could trim stress in their lives simply by volunteering to help others.

"The illusion is you're helping somebody else, but in reality you're helping yourself," Hood said.

He said blaming others for problems pointing fingers at parents, for example was counterproductive.

"It's hard for us to let go of stuff our parents did," he said. "Holding on to that is not helping them. It's hurting you."

There is no ancient proverb that gives people motivation in life, Hood said. Folks who get things done just have the desire to find solutions to obstacles in their path, he said.

"I wrote a book," Hood said. "I'm not a writer."

Finally, Hood urged the educators to find an activity they like, such as gardening or swimming, that leaves them with "great chemicals shooting through your body."

If people find that stress-free happiness zone, he said, "there are moments in which the world stops."

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