By Mark Lawley
One Friday many years ago I was going about my teaching with extra enthusiasm and zest. I moved from class to class, from lesson to lesson, with a heightened sense of exuberance! All of a sudden I paused to consider why I was so energized. I came to the realization that the sole source of my extra zeal was the simple fact that today was FRIDAY. I was disappointed with myself. While I was enjoying the day full tilt, I was a little embarrassed that the basis of extra energy was such a hollow one. Even worse, I realized that I had cheated my students (and myself) out of a fully alive experience the other 4 days of the work week simply because they were not Friday. In the days that followed this realization I developed the Friday Principle. In short, the Friday Principle is bringing the joy of Friday into EVERYDAY living, loving, and teaching!
Unless the Friday Principle comes from the inside out, it will be just energy for energy’s sake. It will be rather frenetic, hyper, and at best rather annoying! (I’m imagining a hyped-up Chihuahua with incessant barking!) You can develop an authentic Friday Principle style by following these steps:
- Find moments for stillness. When we carve out time to be alone, the busyness of the day subsides, and we are not distracted or harried. It is during these times of peace that answers come, and we are aware of how, then, we should live.
- Remain in the moment! Wherever you are – be there! Be awake and aware of all the goodness that surrounds you. Some describe this practice as finding the divine in the ordinary. The song of a bird, a gentle breeze that caresses your face, the warmth of the sun, the scent of baking bread . . .
- Consider taking yourself on an artist date! At first glance this idea may seem silly but I encourage you to give it a chance! Make a quick list of things that take the life right out of you and another of things that bring you life! Now as much as possible focus and practice the things that bring you life! You’ll be restoring and renewing while feeding your soul with goodness.
- Practice responding without reacting! When life brings you an opportunity to get upset, choose to respond. Don’t sit too long with the problem, move toward the solution! Everything is not an emergency, so rather than jumping into a speed boat, wade gently into the water and allow the current to lead you! Respond with peace.
- Practice gratitude. When you wake up, make a mental practice of reminding yourself of five good things in your life. These could be things you are looking forward to, people who bless your life, your job, your significant other, your blessings. Gratitude will set genuine joy in motion!
- CELEBRATE! Choose something or someone every day of your life to celebrate! Celebrating others brings me the most joy! Remind others of all the good that you see shining in them. Tell them! Call them! Write them a handwritten note! Make a poster celebrating them! Show up on their doorstep with a small gift celebrating them! A simple helium balloon will do!
- NOTICE OTHERS! Be fully aware of the cashier, the bag boy, the waitress, the sales clerk, the greeter, the overwhelmed mom, the stressed out dad! Reverence them. Take a few moments to take yourself out of your own story, your own scenario and place yourself in their shoes. Speak a word of encouragement. Lend a helping hand. Let them know they are seen!
- Live this one moment well! Instead of rushing to the next event, the next conversation, the next thing on your “to do” list! Live this one moment well. Be fully engaged in what you are doing. Don’t look past the person speaking to you. Look them directly in the eye and engage for as long as they need your presence!
By following these practices you’ll find yourself fully alive, beautifully centered, and able to bring the zest and joy of Friday into everyday living and loving! Consider printing off the Friday Principle Pledge and placing it where you’ll be reminded to put it into practice!
Mark Lawley is the choral director at Willard High School in rural Missouri. He is in his 36th year of teaching and has enjoyed serving as president of Missouri ACDA and ACDA Southwestern Region. He is currently on the national ACDA Education and Communication Standing Committee and serves Missouri as Repertoire and Resource Chair for High School Choirs.