Resources of Joy

My Favorite Things!

 

Master Parent-Master Child

by Christine Light

Each week, I will be sharing my favorite things that I know will bring remarkable value to your life.  

It's so easy to be generous when life is abundant and we enjoy sharing valuable time together. 

I will be giving away free copies of my book, as well as other books, movies, and music that will inspire you along your path.

 

You can start today learning how to regulate your emotions and modeling for your child

how to translate negative emotions into positive emotions. 

We begin by reviewing the character strengths that will uplift you and your family into Mastery. 

The more you understand these virtues, and focus on their strengthening,

the fewer problems you will encounter with conflict, misbehavior, and poor attitudes from your child.

Once you learn the inalienable rights of the child, you will understand the key to Self-Mastery

that leads not only to your child's success, but yours as well. 

You can start on the path to Self-Mastery and Joy Today!

 

   

The Collapse of Parenting

How We Hurt Our Kids When We Treat Them Like Grown-Ups

 

By Leonard Sax, M.D. PhD

 This is a must-read for parents and educators who  are working with children.

 See why here...

   Dr. Sax has written a brilliant and clear analysis of the root of rampant problems that I have personally seen among children today. Again and again, he shows how many children today are failing to thrive because of critical areas of neglect by well-meaning but misguided parents.  I see the results of these entitled, disrespectful, and emotionally unstable children every day when I substitute teach.  Dr. Sax confirms many of my own conclusions about the deteriorating emotional regulation and struggling character development of so many young people.

   In the first three chapters, he addresses the growing epidemics of children who are 1) obese, 2) increasingly medicated, and/or 3) failing in school. In all three areas, Dr. Sax describes specific examples and research that shows how parents are relinquishing their authority and leadership as parents who know what is best for their child and submitting to what their child wants, not what she/he needs.

   While it is a positive sign that more and more parents are avoiding abusive behaviors that violate their child’s boundaries, unfortunately some parents are confused about how to set effective boundaries, rules, and guidelines that do support their child’s development in the long run. Dr. Sax describes eloquently how sometimes too little parental authority is harmful to the child and ultimately sabotages both the parent and child’s growth. Here’s one example:

     “Parents, especially affluent parents, now commonly carry bags of snacks in the car on the way to or from school. . . ‘I don’t want them to get hypoglycemic,’ one parent told me as I watched her lug a cooler of refrigerated snacks into the car for the 30-minute trip to her children’s private school. . .

     New evidence suggest that allowing kids to have on-demand access to food may be one factor promoting obesity. . . Restricting the amount of time when food is available to 9 or 12 hours out of 24-without restricting calories-improves health and brings weight back to normal.

     Anyhow, since when did a few minutes of hunger become unacceptable? When kids have the final say, then parents must make every effort to ensure that kids are not uncomfortable…. Kids who have never been hungry will grow up to be heavier; yet psychologically they are likely to be more fragile. They haven’t learned how to master their own needs.

   When parents begin to cede control [italics mine] to their kids, food choices are the first thing to slide…..” (p. 40-41)

 

When parents give up control of their children’s most important choices, the outcome can be disastrous. Giving up all control means giving up parental leadership and results in children who, in seeking for guidance, turn to their peers to find direction in making decisions. Dr. Sax discusses the ever-rising diagnoses of ADD, ADHD, Oppositional-Defiant Disorder, Depression, Bipolar Disorder (Manic-Depressive) and other mood disorders. In the vast majority of cases, he has found the problem to be, not chemical imbalances, but rather the absence of effective parental authority.

 

"I now regularly encounter parents like Trent’s mom, parents who wonder whether their young child might have rapid-cycling bipolar disorder or some other neuropsychiatric explanation for bad behavior. I explain to those parents that it’s normal for an 8-year-old to swing through different moods in half an hour. Sometimes in just 5 minutes. That’s not rapid-cycling bipolar disorder. That’s being 8 years old. I say it over and over again: The job of the parent is to teach self-control. To explain what is and is not acceptable. To establish boundaries and enforce consequences.” (p. 50)

 

 

Seeking guidance and leadership in all the wrong places is no more evident than in today’s schools where children are increasingly seeking guidance, influence, and information from their peers. Social media has usurped parental authority in schools with profoundly disturbing results. Academic scores are falling each year as students complete less work, as they focus on their phones or other media that emphasizes their peer group and celebrities rather than engagement in the classroom. Disrespect for teachers is at an all-time high. Here’s but one example from Dr. Sax:

 

“I recently visited an American school serving an affluent neighborhood. The teacher was trying to create a more courteous and orderly atmosphere in the classroom. She explained that she would no longer tolerate students interrupting one another or interrupting her (the teacher). As she was talking, one of the boys in the back of the class belched loudly and then said, “Oh just SHUT UP.”

You see, that’s exactly what I’m talking about,” the teacher responded. “That was an uncalled-for-interruption. That is rude.”

“Oh, I’m sorry,” the boy said. “Please shut up.” (p. 81)

 

Recently, I personally had a student tell me to “shut up” when I cued everyone to come inside just before the next bell to the following period. I wrote a referral for her and sent her to the office. I later learned that the administrator had done nothing in response to my referral. If I decide to continue substitute teacher, I guarantee, that school has been removed from my list of schools I will teach. I also learned that day of a permanent teacher in that same school who wrote up 50 referrals of students in two classes who had been very disrespectful. The consequence for such referrals involves an after- school detention. When she tried to turn them in, the administrator told her she would be fired. She has since quit teaching at that school. I found this to be tragic, since I observed this dynamic and very inspiring teacher to be one of the best I have ever observed.

 

How many teachers are willing to put up with disrespect, insubordination, and downright bullying from students before they leave? The missing authority and leadership in these cases is in the hands of administrators who fail to set an expectation of emotional self-regulation and the development of character strengths, including, but not limited to: kindness, social intelligence, prudence, and self-regulation.

 

Our children look for guidance, from their parents, their teachers, and their school administrators to learn how to become successful in life.  It is so important that all of us are on the same page with respect to what and how we teach our children. Dr. Sax has so much to elaborate on these issues discussed so far. I haven’t even touched on other fine points he discusses in the rest of his book. A wealth of great information and insights! More than ever, our children need us to learn how to become better leaders. Please read The Collapse of Parenting in its entirety.


 

Curiosity

by Brian Grazer

Google and Brian Grazer are my Best Friends! 

   I have such appreciation for Google and Brian Grazer! Why? Discover the answer here!


   Because both feed the juices of my curiosity. With Google, anything I want to learn about at any time of the day or night, I just ask my question and immediately a plethora of answers and information-legitimate and questionable-are delivered to the buffet table of my mind.  Brian Grazer's book, A Curious Mind-The SECRET to a BIGGER LIFE[1], excited and flooded my mind with delectable bites of ideas related to my own journey of Self-Mastery and the character strength of curiosity

   First of all, if you identify yourself as a “change agent,” then curiosity is your crack. To seek, find, learn, and then master that new information or skill into proficiency challenges the old ways of thinking and doing. Brian brilliantly reveals a centuries’ old taboo against curiosity as he discusses the negative message most often perceived by Adam and Eves’ imbibing of the fruit of the tree of knowledge. “Don’t ask questions. Don’t seek knowledge on your own-leave it to the people in charge. Knowledge just leads to wretchedness. “Until Google and the internet, political regimes and religious leaders claimed exclusive rights to what information and knowledge could be distributed and to whom. Even now, various countries levy stiff fines, punishment, and even death to those who dare to explore their queries of curiosity along the Google highway of information. Curiosity is a threat to the status quo.

   Brian reveals the key to genuine democracy that embraces personal freedom, personal power, and autonomy.

 

“Curiosity isn’t just a great tool for improving your own life and happiness, your ability to win a great job or a great spouse. It is the key to the thing we say we value most in the modern world: independence, self-determination, self-government, self-improvement. Curiosity is the path to freedom itself . . . Curiosity is itself a form of power, and also a form of courage.”

 

How ironic is it that we live in a country where curiosity is still discouraged in the classroom, even extinguished in grade school by dismissive teachers who [must] force feed “common” curriculum into students who are discouraged from exploring uncommon subjects? Why do we submit them to stifle their natural desire to inquire into their varied interests, while we insist they memorize pre-scripted information that will be outdated and/or irrelevant by the time they graduate?

  Likewise, the same taboo against curiosity in the educational system criticizes and blocks employees in the business sector by the demand to improve productivity, yet continue conformity to standards of mediocrity. Despite mission statements and company mottos, employees realize that it doesn’t pay to ask questions about current practices. Brian divulges this catch 22 for employees who want to achieve greater productivity, yet are discouraged from questioning what is.

            “We live in a society that is increasingly obsessed with “innovation” and “creativity.” Yet, the foundation of innovation and creativity is curiosity.”

   “How can I…?”  “What if…?” and “Why…?” are the compelling questions of curiosity that initiate the quest for greater knowledge.

  The answer to “Why…?” is always “Yes!” “Yes, because…” Why is the reason to everything we do.  Why carries the meaning, the value.

   “What if…?” returns us to the state of the playfulness of a child that so many of us have lost, but still can recover. When two or more ask the question, “What if…?” in the absence of judgement, collaborative synthesis yields unexpected possibilities. Creation occurs, not just outside the box, but beyond our current perception of reality…the realm of miracles.

   Perhaps the most miracle-minded question of all is “How can I…?” “How can I heal this disease?” “How can I love again after this devastating loss?” Even more basic, in the face of tragedy and against all odds, “How can I survive?”

   Brian Grazer details the life of Veronica de Negri who survived torture by Pinochets’ henchmen.  “How can I escape this horror?” created the saving grace of dissociation that transported her to her inner world of peace. Like so many of the sexual abuse survivors with whom I have worked, “How can I escape the inescapable?” is a testament to the resilience and spiritual power of the tortured.

When all other resources are lost, curiosity prevails through the physical to endure the incomprehensible.

   The same perseverance of spirit that seeks survival also creates remarkable solutions. “How can I …?” when asked over and over, after repeated failed outcomes builds iron muscles of persistence. The impossible is made possible. Curiosity doesn’t just inspire a new idea; it provides the jet fuel to move that idea into a paradigm shift of positive expectation.

   The something good that curiosity discovered initially becomes something greater, then greater still as you tweak your curious question into “How can this be even better.”

   I love Brian’s understanding of curiosity as a tool for bravery.

             “It can give you the courage to be adventurous and ambitious. It does that by   getting you comfortable with being a little uncomfortable.”

   Think about this… Each day, millions of people turn to Google to learn, not only factoids, but new skills that they might otherwise feel discomfort at displaying their bumbling first attempts at, say: ice sculpturing water coloring, repairing a car, or thousands of other skills-all without the peering critiques of onlookers from the privacy of their own room. That’s just one more reason why I love Google and Brian, because they encourage me to boldly go where I have not yet gone!

   I also appreciate Brian’s concept of “curiosity archives:”

            “that is, you achieve the results of your curiosity, you save up the insights and the energy it gives you.”

   Such perpetual curiosity results in an ever-expanding life of growth and adventure-the antithesis of boredom that humans abhor and anesthetize with drugs, alcohol, sex, or other addictions. In this sense, curiosity is the cornerstone of masterful purpose. Who am I? Why am I here? Where have I come from?” and “Where am I going?” Each of these existential questions propels us to expand and grow into our Greater Self and to give those gifts of Self-discovery to others in our collaborative virtual theatre called “Life.” Curiosity pollinates the growth of our verdant seeds of thought. Ultimately, it births meaning into the beautiful garden of our mind’s imagination. This knowledge underlies all of creation.

   I’m sure Google would agree with Brian’s final message:

             “Curiosity is a more exciting way to live in the world. It is, truly, the secret to   living a bigger life.”

 

See A Curious Mind-The SECRET to a BIGGER LIFE by Brian Grazer and Charles Fishman, pgs. 13, 14-15,59,73,123-124, & 200. Simon and Schuster, 2015.

Presence

Bringing your Boldest Self to your Biggest Challenges

By Amy Cuddy

   For anyone who wants to learn and/or teach children how to be healthily empowered, Amy Cuddy’s book, Presence-Bringing your Boldest Self to your Biggest Challenges, is a must read!  Why? Discover Why Here!

   Amy includes great research and interviews, including one with actress Julianne Moore who defines presence precisely. “It’s power. It’s always about power, isn’t it? If someone feels powerless and worn down, they’re going to feel too nervous to be present. . . If you’re protecting yourself against harm—emotional harm or humiliation—you can’t be present, because you’re too protected.” (p. 63) True power requires learning how to be fearless, how to be confident, and having belief in oneself.

   “A confident person—knowing and believing in her identity—carries tools, not weapons. A confident person does not need to one-up anyone else. A confident person can be present to others, hear their perspectives, and integrate those views in ways that create value for everyone.

   True belief—in oneself, in one’s ideas—is grounding; it diffuses threat.” p.33

   The power of presence is clear in every leader, including leaders of every family. Children know when their parents are present, not just physically, and when they are acting with authentic authority. “…[F]irst impressions based on the qualities of enthusiasm, passion, and confidence might actually be quite sound—precisely because they’re so hard to fake. When you are not present, people can tell. When you are, people respond.” P. 21

   Presence, and the power it conveys, begins with Self-knowledge. Then, action and expression can flow congruently aligned with that clear sense of identity. “To be present, it’s not enough to know who you are and express it to others; you need to act on it. In 1992, psychologist William Kahn studied psychological presence in the workplace, identifying four critical dimensions; a person must be attentive, connected, integrated, and focused.” (p. 53)

   She talks about the “imposter syndrome” that is common among women, especially high achieving women who often doubt that they deserve credibility or recognition for their achievements.  “Imposterism steals our power and suffocates our presence. If you don’t believe you should be here, how will you convince anybody else? Presence and impostorism are opposing sides of the same coin—and we are the coin.” (p. 89)

   This fear of not being “good enough” robs women’s confidence early on in childhood and underlies the “downshifting”—lowering of one’s professional ambitions, studied by researchers, Jessica Collet and Jade Avelis. (p. 103) Without concerted attention to uplift themselves, this lack of confidence downshifts many women’s emotions from passion to frustration by the repetitive negative messages of covert misogyny from both male and female peers. This externalized focus on and adaptation of societal projections of inadequacy eventually leads to despair and depression. The most effective remedy is to remove one’s attention from undermining naysayers and focus on tools of emotional empowerment that uplift one into personal power. “I believe in me” must not become merely a hollow affirmation, but a proclamation of authentic self-knowledge.

   Chapter five of Amy Cuddy’s book is golden. I would recommend everyone getting this book for this chapter alone. Amy discusses Dacher Keltner and associates work and how “they propose that power activates a psychological and behavioral approach system. When we feel powerful, we feel free—in control, unthreatened, and safe.2 [italics mine] As a result, we are attuned to opportunities more than threats. We feel positive and optimistic, and our behavior is largely unrestricted by social pressures.” (p.111)

   Further into the chapter, Amy discusses the significance of testosterone and cortisol levels. Generally speaking, higher levels of testosterone and the perceived degree of control one feels over his or her life is correlated to lower levels of cortisol—a primary hormone that rises with unresolved stressors and leads to feelings of anxiety, even panic.

   Chapters 6-9 contain invaluable information about body posturing and how we can physically change our personal presence and sense of empowerment by simply changing our posture. Just the simple act of bending over one’s phone and texting for long periods of time can be disempowering, and a critical factor that leads to more negative emotions, including depression.

   In Chapter 10, Amy presents great information on how small nudges and regular “tweaks” can strongly influence both ourselves and others to make positive changes toward an ongoing growth mindset. Powerful practice leads to the practice of power, which leads to an ongoing life of dynamic learning and mastery.

   There is so much valuable information in this book for anyone wanting to master the power of presence. Be prepared to see wonderful transformations in multiple areas of your life!

 

 

2 Keltner, D. Gruenfeld, D.H., & Anderson, C. (2003). Power, approach, and inhibition. Psychological Review, 110, 265-284.

 

 

Grit

The Power of Passion and Perseverance

By Angela Duckworth

 

How do you become successful? What does it really take? Can you teach those important steps to success to children? Discover the answers to these questions here!

 

Angela Duckworth addresses these questions and so much more in her enlightening book, Grit-The Power of Passion and Perseverance. In this must-read, she explores the difference between passion and perseverance and how to combine the two into powerful, inspired focus. Gathering the most important elements of current research, she establishes a plan of action for those who truly desire to achieve successful accomplishments.

“In sum, no matter the domain, the highly successful had a kind of ferocious determination that played out in two ways. First, these exemplars were unusually resilient and hardworking. Second, they knew in a very, very deep way what it was they wanted. They not only had determination, they had direction.

It was this combination of passion and perseverance that made high achievers special. In a word, they had grit.” (p.8)

This is confirmed by research about what makes people successful.

“Outliers, Galton concluded, are remarkable in three ways: they demonstrate unusual “ability” in combination with exceptional “zeal” and the capacity for hard labor.” (p. 20-21)

   I have concern whether our schools and parents often do not adequately serve young people in helping them to discover their strengths and abilities, zeal is rarely rewarded, and fewer and fewer children are realizing the importance of hard work. [See The Collapse of Parenting and Master Parent-Master Child for more about this problem.]

“Grammy Award-winning musician and Oscar-nominated actor Will Smith has thought a lot about talent, effort, skill, and achievement. “I’ve never really viewed myself as particularly talented… Where I excel is ridiculous, sickening work ethic.” (p.46)

“The separation of talent and skill,” Will Smith points out, “is one of the greatest misunderstood concepts for people who are trying to excel, who have dreams, who want to do things. Talent you have naturally. Skill is only developed by hours and hours of beating on your craft.” (p.51)

   Angela Duckworth describes precisely just what it takes to stay committed to those long hours of practice:

“And here’s the really important thing. Grit is about working on something you care about so much that you’re willing to stay loyal to it…[I]t’s doing what you love, but not just falling in love—staying in love.” (p. 54)

   When you buy this book, you’ll have the opportunity to take Angela’s Grit Scale, which she developed for her study of West Point students, some of the grittiest people in the world. You will be able to consider topics that hold your passion and be inspired by others who have created their own self-defined passion purpose, guided by clear direction.

More important than talent or intelligence, persistent prioritization of hierarchical goals related to your passion is the secret to long-term success. Angela’s Chapter 4 “How Gritty Are You,” details in depth how successful people achieve remarkable results.

I particularly love her viewpoint about the success of mature adults who may have experienced multiple failures and disappointments in their life paths, yet still find their passion purpose.

“My own experience, and the stories of grit paragons like Jeff Gettleman and Bob Mankoff suggest that, indeed, grit grows as we figure out our life philosophy, learn to dust ourselves off after rejection and disappointment, and learn to tell the difference between low-level goals that should be abandoned quickly and higher-level goals that demand more tenacity. The maturation story is that we develop the capacity for long-term passion and perseverance as we get older.” (p. 86)

This kind of experience can’t always be learned in a classroom.

            “Lectures don’t have half the effect of consequences.

"What the maturity principle comes down to, I think, is this. Over time, we learn life lessons we don’t forget, and we adapt in response to the growing demands of our circumstances. Eventually, new ways of thinking and acting become habitual. There comes a day when we can hardly remember our immature former selves. We’ve adapted, those adaptations have become durable, and finally, our identity—the sort of person we see ourselves to be—has evolved. We’ve matured.”  (p. 89)

   Her research has discovered the four psychological assets that mature masters of grit possess.

   You’ll want to learn more about the interaction between 1. Interest, 2. Practice, 3. Purpose, and 4. Hope that she describes. (p. 91-92)

   Fostering and supporting children’s interests in the early years can significantly impact their degree of grit and passion as adults.

“Longitudinal studies tracking learners confirm that overbearing parents and teachers erode intrinsic motivation. Kids whose parents let them make their own choices about what they like are more likely to develop interests later identified as a passion.” (p.107)

Furthermore, those children who learn how to be gritty at a young age with a specific learning interest tend to develop Kaizen, a Japanese word meaning “continuous improvement.” (p.118)

   This kind of long-term grit is what is necessary for individuals, young and old, to repeatedly perform the deep practice that mastery requires. The 10,000-hour rule may be boring, at times even unpleasant, but a prerequisite to performing tasks at high levels of expertise, wherein flow and effortless performance of the skill unfold. It is this ecstatic and transcendent experience that every grit paragon strives to attain—an emotional and spiritual experience that supersedes all material forms of success.

“It was just one of those programs that clicked. I mean everything went right, everything felt good. . .. it’s just such a rush, like you could feel it could go on and on, like you don’t want it to stop because it’s going so well. It’s almost as though you don’t have to think, everything goes automatically without thinking. . . (p. 128-129)

Reseacher Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi grew up in Hungary and daily read his elementary school sign:

The roots of knowledge are bitter, but its fruits are sweet.” This always struck him as deeply untrue: Even when the learning is hard, he writes, “it is not bitter when you feel that it is worth having, that you can master it, that practicing what you learned will express who you are and help you achieve what you desire.” (p. 129)

   The relevant key here is that it is the learner who is the one who feels the learning is worth having. This is where parents can have a clear dialogue with their children and can positively influence their focus. By teaching them the value of repetitive deep practice, and facing challenges while allowing failure, children begin to experience the success of surpassing their own levels of proficiency.

Learning from failure is essential in the development of grit.

  “Elena Bodrova and Deborah Leong, psychologists who’ve devoted their careers to studying how children learn, agree that learning from mistakes is something babies and toddlers don’t mind at all. Watch a baby struggle to set up, or a toddler learn to walk: you’ll see one error after another, failure after failure, a lot of challenge exceeding skill, a lot of concentration, a lot of feedback, a lot of learning.

And then, . . . around the time children enter kindergarten, they begin to notice that their mistakes inspire certain reactions in grown-ups. What do we do? We frown. Our cheeks flush a bit. We rush over to our little ones to point out that they’ve done something wrong. And what’s the lesson we’re teaching? Embarassment. Fear. Shame Coach Bruce Gemmell says that’s exactly what happens to many of his swimmers: “Between coaches and parents and friends and the media, they’ve learned that failing is bad, so they protect themselves and won’t stick their neck out and give their best effort. (p.141)

   As parents, our attitude toward failure strongly affects the degree of resilience that our children acquire throughout childhood. Do we teach them to fear and avoid failure or do we teach them to embrace failure? To the extent we are accepting and at peace with our own failures, we will tend to extend a similar philosophical approach with our children. We can show our children with our actions-not simply talk about it- how to fail, how to fall down, and yet still get back up. They learn what results in the successfully gritty person who comes closer each attempt to realizing her/his goal.

   When grit becomes a daily practice in driving the individual to accomplish goals, at some point, purposeful passion begins to ask, “How can I extend the benefits of my success beyond myself? Angela discusses the difference between training young people to get a job, make a career, or creating work that is a “calling.” Chapter 8 discusses the ultimate satisfaction that comes from those who are the grittiest and focus their work on their “calling.”

  For every parent and teacher, the information in Chapter 9 of Grit-the Power of Passion and Perseverance discusses the nature of optimism and the development of grit as a growth mindset. In the same way that hopelessness can be learned, optimism can be learned and adapted as a life skill. Researcher Marty Seligman’s work and cognitive behavioral therapy-proven to be the more effective treatment for depression than antidepressants-are discussed at length and connect the development of grit to long-term happiness.

   I love this quote, which certainly mirrors my own philosophy in my book:

“Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.” James Baldwin (p. 183)

   You will certainly want to read about Steve Maier’s research about the brain’s plasticity and overcoming adversity in youth. (p.188-190)

   Parenting for Grit, Chapter 10 discusses four types of parents-Permissive, Neglectful, Authoritarian, and Wise Parenting which describes how to inspire more grit in your child by showing more grit in your own life.

 “If you want to bring forth grit in your child, first ask how much passion and perseverance you have for your own life goals. Then ask yourself how likely it is that your approach to parenting encourages your child to emulate you.” (p. 216)

   Positively expecting your child to follow your path of grit on the way to achieving their personal goals is also addressed to teachers and parents alike. Teachers who placed Post-it notes to students’ essays that read: “I’m giving you these comments because I have very high expectations and I know that you can reach them” (p. 219) found that more students were willing to revise and effectively edit their writing.

   While educators have focused on increasing the standards of curriculum in schools and adding more requirements for graduation, Researchers from New Zealand, Brent and colleagues studied the development of “vicious and virtuous cycles” (p.233-234) and the future financial security of a thousand teens as they finished school and entered the job market. Those who possessed the virtue of grit learned to repeatedly seek opportunities for advancement, followed by greater confidence to challenge themselves further, etc. Those who gave up easily adopted a “vicious cycle” of giving up, resulting in lower paying jobs.

   As a teacher who witnesses a great deal of apathy and hopelessness in schools, I cannot strongly enough recommend that all parents and educators read this book and particularly focus on Angela’s Chapter 12-A Culture of Grit. There are simply too many quotes and great information for me to include here. Suffice it to say that she brings serious attention to the idea of creating a paradigm shift in youth in the development of grit.

   This certainly aligns with my own paradigm shift of focusing youth on the development of their character as a key strategy to living a joyful and purposeful life. Grit- The Power of Passion and Perseverance, by Angela Duckworth is essential for every well-informed parent and every committed teacher. 

 

 

 

 The Happiness Equation

Want Nothing + Do Anything=Have Everything

by Neil Pasricha

   Why should you read The Happiness Equation by Neil Pasricha? Find the answer now!

I highly recommend it because it details important areas of finding happiness by carefully distinguishing between outer conditions and our interpretation of those conditions as a prelude to our emotional state. The author sets the tone of this easy to read book by helping the reader to understand the power of interpretation that lies within every person.

   I love how he takes us step by step to understanding the importance of developing higher and higher opinions-love and affection-for yourself and others as you grow in self-confidence, and vice-versa. Mutual high regard for self and others is prerequisite to finding long-term happiness, regardless of the events in your life.

   Similarly, he beautifully describes the experience of ikigai (sounds like “icky guy”) in Japanese culture that produces the passion and perseverance that inspires these centenarians to live longer and have a heck of a lot more fun while they are alive. Finding such passion and reason to live is fundamental to those who are seeking the path of joy.

   There are two invaluable quotes that I love in this book, from two of my favorite Masters. One quote is from Emerson: “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” The other quote from Gandhi is: “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what do are in harmony.” Awesome!

   Neil’s description of the Bench Test at the end of the book is truly inspiring and powerful, well worth buying the book.  A litmus test to make important life decisions, this wonderful test, in its simplicity, describes how to tune in to one’s inner resources of clarity and emotional barometer to follow one’s deepest passions.

   He finishes off his book with “The 5 greatest regrets of the dying and how to avoid them” and “the five people test.” Both sections are well worth reading as you savor every morsel of happiness guidelines you can absorb! Enjoy!

 

 

The Happiness Equation, Neil Pasricha (2016) pgs. 55, 102, 243, 249, 254, the “Secret Chapter”

 

 

Helping Children Succeed-What Works and Why

by Paul Tough 

 

I highly recommend Helping Children Succeed-What Works and Why, by Paul Tough (2016). Here's Why...

 

   Since 2013, more than 51% of American children have been low-income1. The primary goal of education in America must be to address the needs of financially disadvantaged youth.  Paul Tough recognizes that “qualities like perseverance, conscientiousness, self-control, and optimism”[1]  are critical, particularly to these children’s success.  The only viable reformation in education, useful for these children, is the understanding and application of character strengthening.  For this to occur, both parents and teachers must become diligent in identifying and strengthening specific character virtues in every child.  This is not only necessary as an approach to inspire improved behavior in a classroom but also as a fundamental building block toward academic success.  

   Tough clearly identifies the importance of emotional regulation in the classroom. 

“Small setbacks feel like crushing defeats; tiny slights turned into serious confrontations.  In school, a highly sensitive breath response system constantly on the lookout for threats can produce patterns of behavior that are self-defeating: fighting, talking back, acting up in class, and also, more subtly, going through each day perpetually wary of connection with peers and resistance to outreach from teachers and other adults.”

   Chronic toxic stress or adverse childhood experiences are correlated with “higher rates of suicide, depression, and anxiety and other self destructive behaviors.” Implementing an educational standard that addresses these needs must supersede the compulsive demands for academic improvement.  Indeed, providing support and learning skills that will address these emotional components must be put into place on a national level if children are to experience school as an appropriate and safe haven for learning.  According to Tough, “the United States placed 31st of a group of 32 developed nations in the proportion of total public spending on social services that goes to early childhood.” Early childhood education requires a strong emphasis on all of our youngest children, ages three and under.  It is in these early years that children develop their emotional patterns, habits, and emotional regulation, or lack thereof, to their environment.

   At the University of Oregon, Phil Fisher, has developed a video coaching program designed to coach parents how to teach their children emotional Self-Regulation.  The beauty of this kind of program is that it focuses on building strength of skill on top of parent’s current strengths. This approach reduces anxiety, shame and feelings of inadequacy that hinder social skills building.  In a similar fashion, schools must also begin to identify and strengthen character in classroom scenarios. 

   Research has begun to identify character strengths including: “resilience curiosity and academic tenacity” or perseverance as “fundamental building blocks for learning . . ..  When educators neither prioritize the skills and mindset nor integrate them with academic development, students are left without tools for engagement or a language for learning.”

   Helping children succeed is a must-read for all concerned parents and educators who care about educating the more than 15,000,000 children who live below the poverty line in America.  Our schools do not need more testing.  Our schools need to train teachers how to address these fundamental emotional needs that are currently unmet by the majority of American students.  Without establishing emotional safety, setting consistent emotional boundaries, and modeling the tools necessary to achieve emotional self-regulation, schools can only perpetuate the damaging effects on students’ who are neglected in their strengthening of character. Only then, will our children be able to shine academically.

 

 

1Helping Children Succeed What Works and Why, Paul Tough pgs. 1,4,15, 21,27,51,111


 

The Conscious Parent:

Transforming Ourselves, EmpoweringOur Children

by Shefali Tsabary

 I love The Conscious Parent! Find why you'll love it too!

   As an author and parent, I deliberately avoided reading any parenting books until after I had completed my own book, Master Parent-Master Child. I did not want any other writers to influence my writing. The premise of my book, based on my own life experiences, is that Self-mastery begins with mastery of one’s emotions and strengthening of character. The most powerful path to my mastery is the reciprocal teaching relationship with my own children. Most people associate the parent as teacher and the child as student; yet, equally profound is the role of the child as teacher to an open and conscious parent. Dr. Shefali Tsabary talks about this process of learning from the Self within each of us so brilliantly:

“To understand that life is a wise teacher, willing to show us our higher self, revolutionizes how we live and how we parent. We approach everything with an attitude that our circumstances are here to help us come from our higher self. We see life as trustworthy, here to usher us into a deeper self-connection. We also know it’s inherently good, a mirror of our own internal state of goodness. This approach recognizes that we are fundamentally interconnected to all that happens in our life, so that we are co-creators of the reality in which we live. Life doesn’t happen to us, but happens with us.

   Neither does our children’s behavior happen in a void, but is a response to our energy. This means we have an opportunity to influence how our children turn out. While we are quick to teach them to impose negative evaluations on reality, few of us teach them how they can experience reality for what it is. The fact is children learn how to relate to their experiences from how we relate to our own. When they see us constantly reacting to reality, manifesting ongoing reality, they learn to embody such a reactive, anxious mindset themselves. As they watch us judge and label every experience, they begin to categorize their own world.

   If, instead, they observe us flowing with our reality without tightness or heavy-duty mental activity, they learn to respond to their own life the same way.”    Dr. Shefali Tsabary   p. 78  The Conscious Parent.

 

   I love this excerpt as it teaches parents their personal power to make a difference in the world via the emotional and character-rich modeling they give each day to their children. Our children mirror us constantly as we approach life with worry and fear that blames others for our problems vs.  disciplined action and empowerment as we strive to give value to others. They learn how to be victims of circumstance vs. co-creators of our inherent talents and resourcefulness from our habitual patterning. Children learn how to find goodness within themselves when their mothers and fathers focus their attention on strengths; children find doubt and shame when parents only criticize and control. How difficult is it to give goodness when one finds only flaws and conditional approval from the teachers who impact your self-concept first and most profoundly? Quite simply, we cannot give good if we find ourselves lacking in good within our Self.

   This is not a promotion of unconditional approval for all behaviors, but rather unconditional approval for each child’s beingness while carefully guiding and focusing on the strengths of character that already exist within that child. For so long the notion of each infant as a tabla rasa—blank slate—has been the popular notion of each infant born. Every parent soon discovers, however, the indwelling personality traits of each child, unique and exclusively possessed by that one child alone. Certain traits may be similar, yet, there are unique character strengths and weaknesses that arise in each child that stimulate emotional and spiritual growth for the parent.  

   I appreciate the depth of The Conscious Parent as Dr. Tsabary helps parents to understand the spiritual value of parenting. Parents who grow spiritually with their children will find their relationships with their children deepening as their conscious reflection on values takes on meaning in their day-to-day lives. I have personally found parenting three daughters to be the most challenging, yet expansive relationships in my life. No other relationships have revealed to me my own limitations of consciousness, my deepest fears and inadequacies, or my own withholding of love and acceptance for myself. What a gift we have in our children. And what a gift is Dr. Tsabary’s teachings about the spiritual dance called parenting! 


 

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