These funky little relaxation jars are so easy to make and are wonderful visual aid for helping kids calm themselves when they’re feeling anxious or overwhelmed.

They’re a popular aid for parents but we also encourage teachers to use them in the classroom and have included the instructions in our primary/elementary school curriculum.  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 →

Meditation has been used since ancient times as a means to reduce stress, calm the mind and increase inner peace, and most spiritual traditions have some form of meditation practice. Therefore, there are many different types of meditation. Generally, we can say meditation is any practice where you focus your attention on specific internal or external processes, whether it is your stream of consciousness, your sensations, your breath, repeating a mantra or identifying sounds.

Nowadays, most people use the word meditation to refer to relaxation techniques and mindfulness. In order to see what techniques are suitable for you, you should learn more about different types of meditation and try them out. Any meditation practice is highly beneficial and have been around for millennia for a reason. Science is finally catching up with the importance of meditation, and we have just heard confirmation from Harvard neuroscientists’ study that meditation grows our brains. We present you with reasons why you should take up meditation today.

meditation-972472_1280 read more →

There are so many wonderful people in our community who go out of their way and even risk their lives for us every single day. Often these people go about their jobs, many of which we wouldn’t want to do mind you, without ever really being thanked for the extraordinary effort they put in.

Here are some fun ways to show them they’re appreciated or to offer support to someone who may need a little encouragement.

Law Enforcement or Fire Fighters

Orange-county-sherrif's-dept1 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 →

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 →

As I get older, I’m hearing more people complain of a lack of joy and fulfilment in their lives. Personally, I think this can often be explained as an imbalance in our physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual needs. In other words, we’re not allowing ourselves the right doses of sleep, nutrition, exercise, work, security, intellectual stimulation, attention, sense of achievement, socialization, fun, time alone and so on.

While exploring ways to increase their happiness, many people identify a lack of spiritual satisfaction which often leads them on a journey of gratitude.

What is Gratitude?

Robert Emmons is recognized as the world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude. He describes gratitude as “a felt sense of wonder, thankfulness, and appreciation for life.” He explains it as an acknowledgement and an appreciation of things that are given to or done for us. He goes on to say that the good feelings associated with gratitude inspire us to create the same feelings for other people.

Most of us are taught basic gratitude as children as we learn to say thank you, show respect and help others. But in this busy world, I fear many of us have become expectant of certain things, feeling it’s our right to live our lives in a particular way and taking the ordinary things for granted.

Why is Gratitude Important?

Positive psychology research proves that gratitude is strongly associated with the emotions that help us enjoy greater health and happiness. It can also play an important role in nurturing our relationships and can even inspire us to take better care of ourselves. read more →

As a mother of three teenage daughters and an experienced elementary school teacher, I am deeply concerned about our kids. Let me explain. Children today live in a world filled with technology — ipad interaction from birth, social media from pre-teens and access to everything and anything on the Internet from a very young age. Don’t get me wrong, as a teacher I know technology can be an amazing tool for learning. Extraordinary really. What does deeply trouble me, is the negative aspect of child/learner interaction with technology.

I have come back to teaching after four years away. What I found on my return, was many children (dare I say the boys) had a much lower attention span than I had previously experienced in my teaching practice. Where once I had five- and six-year-olds listening and focused for 15 minutes, they were now only engaged for around five minutes. After that period of time, eyes started to roam, feet began to fidget and turning around seem a more entertaining thing to do!

In a time of technology overload, and on-line and off-line societal pressures, I have come to the conclusion that we need to formally teach our children the following:

  1. To be mindful of others and of themselves. That is, to show respect and empathy towards others and to show respect and empathy towards themselves.
  1. To be resilient. That is, we need children to feel confident about themselves and to be able to accept disappointment and even rejection without losing a sense of self. The teaching of resilience goes hand in hand with children learning to be assertive — both about their bodies and their mindset.
  1. To be focused learners. That is, I believe we formally need to teach children in a school environment to focus on a task and to slow their mind down, allowing them to sustain longer concentration.

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The best time to pause and take a moment to
breathe is when life is most frantic!

– Lisa Currie

It began as any other ordinary day, but in the end I would never view M&Ms the same way again.

We had finished our hustle and bustle through the Saturday mall traffic and I was bagged. Two kiddies under 6 in toe always make for an eventful shopping adventure. I vaguely recall the days when I could whip into a store and purchase a dozen items in less than 10 minutes. Now getting a pack of gum takes a monumental amount of time, with all the bathroom stops, people gazing, and general ‘squirrel’ attention-span dilemmas.

Busting, or rather grunting, our way through the ever-shockingly heavy glass doors, I catch a glimpse of the car in the distance and a sense of freedom finds me. “If I can just get there and sit for a moment, I’ll be fine,” crosses my mind. I can tell Liam of 6 and Nathaniel of 4 are feelin’ it too, because the whining is just beginning to peak.

We make it, barely it seems, and the boys scramble up and in. I strap littlest man into the 5-point space seat and make my way to home plate behind the wheel. “Safe!” read more →

Mindfulness is a meditative practice that involves learning to pay attention to the present moment with an attitude of openness and kindness.

If there was a way to potentially help kids pay better attention, exercise more generosity and kindness with their peers, perform better in school, and be more aware of themselves and others, would you try it?

There is increasing recognition of how social, emotional and cognitive functioning are intermingled; that kids may have difficulty in school when emotional challenges arise which in turn impacts learning.

Can you imagine how it could shift the climate of our schools, our community, our world, if cultivating these qualities was at the forefront of education? read more →