motivation · Personal Success

Set Your Mind to It

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Photo by Annie Spratt

When I was five and my sister was four, our babysitter watched us coloring in our coloring books. Where my sister stayed within the lines, I colored slightly (OK, maybe not so slightly) outside the lines. “JoAnne colors nicely and Caroline needs to work on that a little bit.” Her sarcasm was not lost on me, even then.

This bit of criticism colored my world (pardon the pun!) “I am not a good artist.” This was just something I accepted for many years. But I’ve always longed to draw and paint. For someone with no formal art education, I think I am pretty OK. I think I can improve and I very much want to improve.

Thanks to Carol Dweck, we can all sigh optimistically now.

For eons, people believed in the “Fixed Mindset”  – that talents are innate and readily apparent; Believers assert that one should avoid mistakes and failures. In fact, if you find yourself failing at something, people who adopt the “fixed mindset” philosophy say you ought to just quit, because clearly, it’s not for you.

But Dweck, one of the leading researchers of motivation, discovered the truth about achievement and learning: The Growth Mindset. She says you learn from mistakes. You grow! Intelligence and talent are developed and in order to be successful, you must make mistakes. Clearly, this is true. The Wright brothers did not discover how to create a plane on the first attempt and Edison did not discover the light bulb on his first try, either. One needs to make mistakes to learn, grow and achieve.

Growth Mindset believers say “yet”  is the magic word. I can’t draw well yet, but with consistent practice and quality education, I will!

Check out her website: mindsetonline.com. It includes a test to determine where you are on the mindset continuum and ways to change it.

I’m going to start drawing lessons (free) on skillshare.com. Go Growth Mindset!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Health · relationships · writing

declaration

 


May the laughter and love in your life eclipse tears of sorrow.

May your present be so full, that there’s no thought of tomorrow.

May your life’s work – day to day – be notably divine.

May your heart beat loud and full, a veritable goldmine.

I wish great fortune to smile down upon you –

that is – for you to accept all that is absolute.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Health · Personal Success · relationships

Principles

 

One of our vocabulary words in my fifth grade class this week was principle: “a personal or specific basis of conduct or management.” Basically, I told my students, principles are your personal beliefs and values and they dictate how you act.

My sister in Silicon Valley emailed a news article to me. Santa Clara officials have “declared the teen suicide problem an urgent health care problem” due to the episodes of suicide clusters in that area. High school students (many from affluent homes of highly educated parents) are committing suicide in staggering numbers. They jump in front of trains, they jump off overpasses and buildings and they hang themselves. A Yale psychologist who has studied this phenomenon says that, “on average, rich offspring experience serious levels of depression and anxiety at twice the national rates.”

Why are children who seem to have so much promise taking their lives?

The experts have identified two factors: overwhelming pressure to succeed AND a broken or non-existent bond within their families. These youth are showing signs of mental illness and their parents are in denial. The principles, then, of these parents are simply high achievement, excellent education and then successful careers for their offspring. Absent is the principle of unconditional love and acceptance.

At this moment, our country is experiencing high tension: racial violence and racist rhetoric not seen since the civil rights movement is now a reality. The principles in our current federal administration seem to be tax cuts for the wealthy, protect the KKK and bully people into submission. Again, absent is the principle of unconditional love and freedom. Absent is the principle of peace and equal rights (for women, LGBTQ, immigrants, etc.)

With such principles, only disaster can result.

It is up to each of us to do our own part to right this wrong.

  • Vote hate out.
  • Join the NAACP.
  • Join NPR.
  • Subscribe to the NY Times.
  • Volunteer at a community organization that serves people in need.

Any other ideas? Feel free to add!

 

 

 

motivation · relationships

Peace, Not Passivity

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Photo by Jakob Owens

There’s a lot of political strife and fear going around. I keep hearing about people losing sleep over the recent events in Virginia with the supremacist groups and the death of an innocent protestor.

I offer this: Take a deep breath. Do not expect others to feel the way you do. Do not get frustrated and scared. Instead, think of one SMALL thing you can do to feel effective and do it. You’ll feel better. You might even sleep better.

Lead by example.

Show up. We need people to show up for what they believe in.

But fighting and arguing are only going to get defenses up.

And, for your insomnia, I offer this YouTube video of Byron Katie speaking with someone who feels the way you do. Trust me, you need to watch this. It’s magic.

This is not a call for passivity. You need to feel the inner peace before you can help create the peace outside of yourself.

 

Health · motivation · Personal Success

What’s Good About This?

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Sometimes, life seems pretty awful. We dread the tragedies, the upsets, and the disappointments. We try to cling to the successes, the celebrations, and the joy. But life keeps bringing us both. There is no need to fear the “bad” and then dwell on it when it (ultimately) happens.

What you can do is change your thinking.

You can see life differently, and thus, experience it differently. Everything can be good.

It starts with falling in love with reality, warts and all. Accept what is. Don’t judge it.

The other way to change your thinking it to ask the right questions.

One of the most important ones to ask yourself – in the face of adversities and hardship – is:

What is good about this?”

This question really is not that hard to ask. It seems difficult (if not impossible) because we’re programmed to react a certain way to certain events.

There is no changing reality. Your loved one died. You lost your job. You lost your home. You receive a cancer diagnosis. This is reality and no amount of crying or complaining will change it. 

Should you suffer for an extended period of time? Forever? If you suffer, does that do justice to your loved one who passed away? Does it prove you loved them enough?

No. You’re just suffering. And you might be causing those around you who love you to suffer, too.

This is a radical concept in our society. We seem to enjoy drama. But drama is draining.

When you seek the positive, your entire body changes for the better. So does your mind. And when you are light in body and mind, then you can act with clarity and energy. After all, that is what we are, energy. We live and we die, but the energy remains.

Keep asking the question. There is an answer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

motivation · Personal Success

Be a Wild Flower

Photo by Milos Tonchevski

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I have a desert garden in my backyard. A beloved neighbor gave us all of her potted plants when she moved out of state and the plants have thrived. This year, some new wildflowers grew next to the pots. They’re not related to any of the potted plants and they are not being irrigated. Yet, they continue to grow beautifully on the little rain they get.

People can be like wildflowers. They are transplanted from some other place and they just grow. They take advantage of the resources available.  They don’t ask permission. They don’t shrink because the other plants were there first.

They are beautiful in their uniqueness, their peculiarity, and their originality.

We can all be like wildflowers: wild, courageous, strong and proud.

Be like a wildflower. Don’t look for approval or acceptance. Hold your head up high.