Saturday, July 30, 2011

"Six Skills You Can't Live Without"

"The real risk is not risking." 

Joe Robinson in "Six Skills You Can't Live Without" demonstrates the benefits of Braveheart ideas like risk taking, initiating, experiences, absorption...really, just living life fully and richly for which we are created. But a life too many hold back from.  Joe explains studies that show how the six actions listed below contribute to long life, healthy life, and a fulfilling life where success is much more than making money or succeeding in athletics, education, or beauty.

The article supports the need for building bravehearts.  It demonstrates the values of a broad education, confidence in entering life wholly, and becoming who and what you were meant to be.

While I agree with Joe about the value of the six skills, I don't agree that they are for "leisure" time, "life outside the professional world."  I think these skills should be lived in all of life, not accepting that our professional lives and non-professional lives are handled differently, but that both should be lived heartily with the same depth and excitement that these six skills bring.

Here is part of what Joe says.  As you read, you might think about how each of these six skills can be encouraged in your child's life.

"Passions and the active leisure skills that create them work wonders for your health and outlook because they satisfy core psychological needs for autonomy, competence, and connection with others. This makeover show happens where it matters, inside. Yet this power of this health resource doesn’t filter down to us because of the ingrained notion that recreation and leisure are little removed from outright vagrancy, since they don’t produce anything (unless you want to call living a productive endeavor)."

"We concentrate all our skill-building and education on the work side, where we believe all the value is. Work skills–getting results, micromanaging, staying in the comfort zone–get you nowhere when it comes to activating your life, which is about input, not output; experience over results; letting go; and getting out of the straitjacket of habit."

"It takes another skill-set to create a fulfilling life outside the professional world. Here are some of the key leisure skills that get your life going:

1) Intrinsic motivation. Pursuing and enjoying experiences off-the-clock takes a different motivation than the work reflex of external results: intrinsic motivation. You do it for the inherent interest, fun, learning, or challenge. Research shows we enjoy what we do and remember much more of it (critical to memory, which is what tells you that you like your life or not) when the goal is intrinsic. Expect no payoff, and you get a big one, internal gratification.

2) Initiating. Instead of being told what to do or watching others doing the living, we have to break out of spectator mode and self-determine our lives to feel gratified. We need to research and plan activities and vacations, seek out and try new things, invite others to get out and participate, and if they don’t reciprocate, go alone.

3) Risk-taking. The real risk is not risking. Security is a red flag for the brain, which is built to seek out novelty and challenge. Make the risk intrinsic (the result doesn’t matter), and you’re able to venture much more, because, instead of having anything on the line, you’re just exploring.

4) Pursuit of competence. Since competence is one of your core needs, it’s a handy thing to build and sublime to feel. The idea here is that you want to get better at something–not to show off, not for anyone else, but for your own gratification. Pursuing competence leads you to build your skills at an activity to the point where it can become a passion. It’s a fabulous self- and life-sustaining skill.

5) Attention-directing and absorption. The work mind wants to get everything over with ASAP. The key to optimal experiences is being 100% engaged in what you’re doing now. That means losing the electronic devices and distractions and putting all your concentration on the activity at hand. The more absorbed you are, the more your thoughts and deeds are the same, and the happier you are. It’s called harmony.

6) Going for the experience. Observation and hanging back don’t satisfy the engagement mandate of your brain neurons. To activate a fulfilling life, we have to participate in the 40% of our potential happiness (the rest is inherited or due to circumstance) we can actually do something about–intentional activities. That’s the realm of experience. Experiences make us happier than material things because they can’t be compared with anyone else’s experience. They don’t lose value through social comparison. They are personal events that engage our self-determination needs."

"These skills take us inside the participant dynamic essential to a healthy and extraordinary life. They show us that the good life comes from a place quite a bit different than the recliner and that the script of nonstop production is about as accurate a route to satisfaction and aliveness as a divining rod."

The above is excerpted from Six Skills You Can't Live Without by Joe Robinson in Don't Miss Your Life.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Turtle and the Rabbit

You may be thinking this should be "The Tortoise and the Hare."  But, this is a different story.

Sometimes I see the strangest things on my walks in the woods.  Today's "Turtle and Rabbit" gives insight into teaching your children at different times in their lives.  Wisdom from a turtle and rabbit.

There is one spot on my walk where the woods open and there is brush on both sides of the four feet wide trail.  Often when I get about five or six steps from there, a rabbit hops across the trail in front of me.  I can't figure out why, unless it is safer on the other side and I am frightening.

Yesterday the rabbit hopped across.  But, right behind the rabbit was a baby bunny, following mom across the trail.

Learning by Following
This is so much like our children when they are young.  Unless we have done something to hurt them, they love to follow mom and dad and do the things they do.  They are growing and learning leaps and bounds (hops?) as they find joy and comfort in seeing where a parent goes and what a parent does.  It is the "I want to be like you, Dad" stage.  What power to teach by our lives.  What a responsibility.  What an opportunity.

I know you can get tired of being followed.  It goes fast.  Cherish it.  Invite them, engage them, let them do the things you do as much as you can.  And, show them your heart.  And, courage.

But, then we hit the turtle stage, usually around twelve, but it varies a lot.

I ran into a turtle on the same trail.  He looked at me as I approached.  As I took a wide loop around him, the shell stayed put, but the head and eyes watched me.  Guarded.  Your teens are watching you.  They may not be following like they did before, but they are moving their eyes and heads to see if what you believe and what you say are for real.  They may not move their shell, but know that you are impacting their hearts as they watch what you do.  Example is powerful at all ages.

Learn by Watching
I took a turn and moved closer to the turtle.  You know what he did.  When I got too close, his head went inside the shell.  On my return trip down the trail, he was gone.

Yep.  Teens often operate the same way.  However you can do it, keep your relationship open.  Instead of expecting them to follow you like the bunny did, find things they will do with you.  But, ever so gently.  If mom and dad get too close, pry too much, there is a tendency to retreat.   And, if you keep pushing, they will disappear for a while if they can.  Give them time and they will come out again when they feel it is safe.

A few years ago I asked ten parents who had great teens what they did.  Everyone said the same thing:  "we keep a bridge open," a relationship, no matter what.  It might mean not getting too close sometimes.  It might mean being careful to "pick your battles" and let some things go that really aren't that important.  But, whatever you do, keep a relationship active.

That's it.  The "Turtle and the Rabbit."  Teaching your children isn't too complicated, really.  Know what you believe and want.  Talk about it.  Be intentional but not smothering.  Know which stage your child is in. Take advantage of the rabbit years.  And, know how turtles operate.  Young ones learn by following and they all learn by watching.  Live what you want them to learn.