Most people regard attitude as something that can be developed or studied. It’s subject to control.

It’s not uncommon to hear someone say they’re “working on” or “maintaining” their positive attitude. We treat attitudes like muscles that benefit from exercise. Whether we hit the gym frequently, or avoid it altogether, we invariably hold ourselves accountable for the condition of our attitudes. The couch potato has only herself to blame for her bad attitude. The diligent weightlifter can praise himself for the strength of his. read more →

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I had an interesting question last night from my 10-year-old daughter Claire. Claire is a blogger and loves asking questions. A trait I admire so much. She was working on a school project and doing a few interviews with me.

She asked me if I had always been this confident and commented on how easy it is for me to get along with people including celebrities.

I thought about it for a while and I gave here the best answer I could with regards to my own personal development.

I was born in Zambia in Southern Africa in a small country town by the feet of the Mpangwe Hills and the Katete River. Katete is a very small vibrant town full of colors and culture, from its traditional ceremonies to the beautiful wildlife parks nearby. I was very fortunate that from a very young age as I was encouraged to explore my world and ask as many questions as I could.

My grandfather was a High Commissioner for Community Development and I watched him as a young girl interact with his people. He treated everyone with respect. read more →

The business world usually gets described as competitive, cutthroat, or aggressive. You’re obliged to be a “growth hacker” who “contributes to the bottom line” and is considered “higher-performing than their peers” at the annual review. I had been in the high-stress corporate world at Microsoft where stack-ranking ruled twice a year.

Employees almost universally breathed a sigh of relief when Microsoft announced in 2013 that they were doing away with stack rankings. I was all for a more collaborative workplace with team efforts and common goals. The only thing they got rid of in my department was the term “stack ranking.” Twice a year, you were still compared to your peers. Promotions, raises, and bonuses were still individually-assigned based on how you performed compared to others in your level-band.

Being kind is the most important thing I’ve ever been taught. That’s what my parents always told me – more important than ambition or success is being kind to people. The cornerstone of my life. What I aspire to is to be kind. – Rafe Spall

I chose to leave this high-stress world and take a lower-paying but much more satisfying job elsewhere.

I’m now a digital analyst at the hotel web design company. We’ve a very different, very collaborative approach. At my new workplace, we try to have the worldview of “The Kindest Possible Interpretation” of the motives behind our coworkers’ and clients’ actions. This philosophical approach is absolutely necessary for our office as a distributed workplace (we all work from home/remote offices). So much of our interactions occur via email, in online chat, or over Skype.

As humans, we’re natural storytellers and often project reasons on why something did/did not happen. That can be great if you’re reading a novel or watching a film, but it can also be destructive.
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When people, especially strangers, go out of their way to do a good deed for us, it touches our heart. My children and I were sitting in a doctor’s office recently and I was blown away by the kindness of a young boy sitting next to us. He heard me telling my daughter to stop putting her dirty hands in her mouth after she was playing on the floor. This six-year-old boy came over and offered my daughter hand sanitizer. This simple act of kindness and sharing was a moment to cherish that day amongst the stress of a long wait in a loud, crowded waiting room.

Why We Help Others

Why do you help others? Yes, it is the right thing to do. But did you know that it also makes you happier and healthier?

I know it may be a bit selfish to look at how being kind to others is beneficial to us personally, but the recent science surrounding kindness is so fascinating that we can’t ignore it. Plus, it is important for parents to understand why we want to instill kindness in our children so that we can provide all the reasons to them when they question it. read more →

When one of your children, (student or biological) is hysterical because they’ve just had an accident or some sort of perceived trauma, what’s your first challenge? You need to understand what has happened, so you can soothe them. This of course is impossible if the child is blabbering and sobbing incomprehensibly. Your naturally wise self invites the child to calm down. What’s the most effective way to help calm a child? “Alright sweetheart, take a deep breath, ooh there you go. Lovely, well done. And another deep breath and blow it out. That’s it. One more…” and voila, the little person is already calmer and quieter, has decreased the adrenalin and cortisol (stress hormone) in their cute little body and is now well on his or her way to being well again. They are more empowered because they can be understood and you are more able to help them because you can comprehend the situation.

Now how would it be if we applied this simple yet awesome process to ourselves and our young people before we/they get in a pickle? How would it be if we chose to apply this simple mind/body technique to everyday living? How much calmer would you, your students and your classroom be? read more →

There once was a little boy who had a bad temper. His father gave him a bag of nails and told him that every time he lost his temper, he must hammer a nail into the back of the fence.

The first day the boy had driven 37 nails into the fence. Over the next few weeks, as he learned to control his anger, the number of nails hammered daily gradually dwindled down. He discovered it was easier to hold his temper than to drive those nails into the fence. read more →

No regrets. It’s a flippant and casual statement so easily bandied around by the youth, by those with time. But to what extent do we actually mean these words? To what extent do we actually live a life of no regrets on a daily basis?

Bronnie Ware, a former palliative care nurse identified the top five regrets of the dying in her book by the same name. Throughout it she learnt a lot about regret, reflecting on the vast percentage of humans who get to the end of their lives wistfully wishing they had lived in a different way.

From unresolved issues in relationships and conversations that were never had, to dreams merely half filled and chips on shoulders long kept, Bronnie explores the feelings associated with an existence unfulfilled. Some were able to come to a resolution, but for others, they just didn’t have enough time left to sort it all out.

Life lessons; often they are most powerfully learnt from mistakes we make. In this case, let’s learn from others. Let’s be motivated to live our lives as if it were our last. read more →

In September of 2005, Martha Cothren, a social studies schoolteacher from Arkansas did something not to be forgotten. On the first day of school, with permission of the school superintendent, the principal, and the building supervisor, she took all of the desks out of the classroom. The kids came into first period, they walked in; there were no desks. They obviously looked around and said, “Where’s our desks?” read more →

A large percentage of employees globally are disengaged and business is struggling to know what to do about it. The disengagement problem cost the US economy more than $500bn in 2014 so why, when the stakes are so high, is this such a difficult problem to solve?

In fact, an employer cannot directly engage any employee no matter how much money is thrown at the problem. The employee themselves has to feel engaged from the inside. This is a feeling that can’t be bought with movie tickets, achievement certificates, team lunches and the plethora of other rewards that may be available to middle managers who are tasked with keeping their teams motivated.

So if money can’t fix this, what will?

Ironically the fast track to engaging employees might cost nothing at all, and is one that everyone is equipped and empowered to start using today as either a manager, a co-worker or a customer.

We’re talking about gratitude… a no cost solution! read more →

My children are very well behaved. They are well-mannered, obedient, and they ‘do as they are told.’ Great right? I’m not so sure.

I became increasingly aware that my kids were blindly following authority and it bothered me. I don’t want my kids to be drones who plod through life, I want them to be thinkers, feelers and do-ers.

I remember years ago being present at an assembly where a decent, church-going, hard-working council member was speaking. He was telling the children to listen to adults and do what they are asked to do. Major alarm bells sounded off in my brain. I was a young, childless teacher at the time, but had worked with enough foster children to know how dangerous that message can be. Why? Because as much as we hope it doesn’t happen, some adults prey on children. They rely on the fact that we are raising very well-behaved, quiet, obedient children who will not stand up against an authoritative figure.

There was a case in America where a whole fast-food restaurant was tricked by a guy on the phone pretending to be a police officer. There was even a movie (Compliance) made about how he managed to manipulate the staff to such a degree that it lead to the abuse of one of the 18-year-old female workers over many hours. read more →

Gratitude … goes beyond the “mine” and “thine” and claims the truth that all of life is a pure gift. In the past, I always thought of gratitude as a spontaneous response to the awareness of gifts received, but now I realize that gratitude can also be lived as a discipline. The discipline of gratitude is the explicit effort to acknowledge that all I am and have is given to me as a gift of love, a gift to be celebrated with joy.

– Henri J. M. Nouwen

Several years ago I had the opportunity to attend an education conference in San Francisco, CA. While I was there, I learned many exciting findings from the “science of happiness.” That weekend revolutionized my perspectives related to teaching and parenting. Since then I have been on a quest to create a happier classroom and to help other teachers do the same thing.

One lesson I learned at the conference pertains to the relationship between happiness and success. As recent research has shown, success does not always lead to happiness. Many of us know this from experience. For example, landing a highly coveted job and buying your dream home may not necessarily result in a blissful state. On the other hand, people who are happy tend to find success in school, at work, and in every domain in life. read more →

Some children spend more of their time awake at school than they do in their own homes. That’s a big thing when you’re still growing and learning. It’s a big thing too for parents to entrust their precious ones to others, sometimes strangers, during these vital years. Especially as much of a child’s developing personality and morals can be so easily influenced by those around them.

During the early years of my own children’s education, I worried about the role models they would encounter at school. It concerned me that my hard work instilling good values may be lost if character education wasn’t a priority in the classroom.

Fortunately, these days, educators are more aware of the need to prioritize social and emotional learning at school. They realize the important role that kindness and empathy have in nurturing happiness and self-esteem.

“It’s no secret that kindness sparks kindness. The secret is that kindness takes wings when it is modeled and taught with passion and purpose. When we intentionally help and encourage our students to put kindness into action through their thoughts, words, and deeds, then the world will truly be a gentler, more peaceful place. Simply put, we’ll be better.

Girls holding handsKindness in schools can look like a smile, feel like a hug, sound like a sweet greeting or a sincere compliment. A genuine inquiry about how someone is doing can mean so much. And when we have created that climate of kindness and caring inside our school walls, the natural next step is to take it home to our families, out into our community and then beyond our borders into our global world. And when kindness ripples, prepare to bathe in a tsunami of goodness.”

Barbara Gruener, Counsellor, Westwood-Bales Elementary, Friendswood, Texas, USA read more →