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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 →

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 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 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 →

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 →

Cathy Domoney shares her very personal journey through depression and anxiety.

I’m stubborn, really stubborn, I mean I hate being told what to do (as my poor long-suffering husband will happily verify). Some people say that this is my strength; some say it’s my weakness. I’d say it’s my motivation, my driving force, my rocket-fuel. When people tell me that I can’t, I go out of my way to prove them wrong. This has led me to overcome illness, have children, change careers, publish a book, move countries to mention a few things. This can have the opposite effect on the person hearing it however. Let me explain.

The Mistake

When I was a child I was affectionately described as a ‘mistake.’ (I prefer the term a wonderful surprise). My parents had their pigeon pair at the appropriate age and place in their lives, they were complete and content. But when they went from the UK to Australia for a holiday, they came back with a stowaway! Being the youngest sibling by ten and thirteen years, I got told what to do and think from a very young age, by multiple sources. Of course when your sister is ten years your senior and bullies and belittles you relentlessly, and frequently informs you that she resents the day you were born, it translates as pressure.

I lived with fear and was constantly the recipient of emotional abuse. I behaved the only way that brought me peace. I began to be the best possible person I could be and made sure not to make any mistakes that may be used as ammunition against me in my already powerless world. I would never be told what to do as I’d already done it, I never had arguments because I’d done nothing wrong and I pushed my voice way down where it couldn’t be heard and, therefore, couldn’t ‘rock the boat’. This was a short-term solution which got me through my childhood but was to have long term consequences anchored to years of depression and panic attacks in my adult life. It’s something I still struggle with today and it can be exhausting. These ridiculously high expectations that I placed upon my child-self, because of the actions of others, kept me in an emotional prison for decades.

It’s also had a huge impact on my health. I now have three auto-immune diseases. I’m the sort of person that believes that illness of the body has deep routed emotional triggers. I’ve taken pills prescribed by doctors, but until I investigated why I was feeling the way I was, my illness remained dominant. Wasn’t it Sigmund Fraud who introduced us to the term ‘sublimation’? Where we push down emotions but they later manifest somehow? Well, I believe that in me, it manifests in chronic illness. From the age of 18, I’ve danced with chronic illness. That’s when my journey into self-discovery and my thirst for knowledge of the human condition was born. read more →

In the book, Wonder by R.J. Palacio, she writes about Choosing Kind as the best option in life. This phrase resonated with me and sparked a new appreciation on how I discuss bullying with my 6th graders.WonderBook I then came across an article on the Edutopia website titled, “Why Teaching Kindness in Schools is Essential to Reduce Bullying” and knew this was the right angle to take with my incoming 6th graders. They have all heard the lectures about how bullying is wrong. I wanted to attack bullying from a different point of view. After reading the Edutopia article, I decided to teach kindness. What does it truly mean? I wanted my students to reflect on the meaning of kindness. I wanted them to pay it forward and start applying kindness to their peers at school. How would I do this as it is not as easy as it sounds?

Our school philosophy is SPIRIT, which is an acronym for Selflessness, Pride, Integrity, Respect, Involvement, and Trustworthiness. I knew I wanted to bring this philosophy in to my classroom kindness lessons as well. After much thought, and since I teach English Language Arts, I figured the most appropriate way would be through our daily writing prompts. My goal was to share a new picture book, video clip, short article, or poem each week that spoke to us about being kind, compassionate, and showing gratitude. I wasn’t sure how the students would respond to these types of texts and media. 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 →