Have you ever had a discussion with your children about gift giving? Most children see the act of giving as customary at particular times of the year but do they really understand the reason behind giving a present?
If you haven't talked about the difference between giving for the sake of it and giving with meaning then perhaps it's time to explain the heart factor that should lie behind every gift we give.
Gifts are a way of acknowledging someone and showing our appreciation for the positive attributes that we love about them. It's important for children to understand that a large, more expensive gift doesn't equate to greater appreciation. In fact, parents and grandparents in particular, generally appreciate homemade gifts far more than something bought because they know have been made with love and given from the heart.
Most children enjoy being creative with pencils and crayons. But did you know there are an impressive number of reasons why both kids and adults should partake in this peaceful pastime?
The significant benefits of coloring are now being realised for all age groups as it takes its place alongside yoga and meditation as an enjoyable way of improving mental and physical well-being.
It’s unknown who originally told this powerful story but it has been replicated over the years and there are now quite a few versions to be found on the net. Regardless of the variations, the story shares a powerful and motivational message. We enjoyed this video by Meir Kay and hope you share it with the significant people in your life. read more →
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 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.
There are so many wonderful people in our communities who go out of their way and even risk their lives for us every single day. Often these people go about their jobs without ever really being thanked for the extraordinary things they do.
Here are some fun ways to show community workers how much they really are appreciated or to show your support for someone who may need a little encouragement.
Law Enforcement or Fire Fighters
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 →
The older I get, the more I’m hearing people complain of a lack of joy and fulfillment in their lives. Personally, I think this is often caused by an imbalance in physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual needs. In other words, people are not allowing themselves the right amount of sleep, nutrition, exercise, work, security, intellectual stimulation, attention, sense of achievement, socialization, fun, time alone and so on.
While exploring ways to increase 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” and explains it as an acknowledgment and an appreciation of things that are given to or done for someone. He goes on to say that the good feelings associated with gratitude inspire people to create the same feelings for others.
Most people learn basic gratitude as children when they’re taught to say thank you, show respect and help others. But in this busy and disposable world, it seems many have developed a sense of entitlement, feeling it’s their right to live their lives a particular way, instantly have the best instead of working and saving for it and taking so much of their lives for granted.
Why is Gratitude Important?
Positive psychology research proves that gratitude is strongly associated with the emotions that help people enjoy greater health and happiness. It can also play an important role in nurturing relationships and can even inspire people to take better care of themselves.
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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 seems 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.