[Lisa Avery] What I Didn’t Learn at School (And Most Needed To Know) – Growing with Gratitude

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[Lisa Avery] What I Didn’t Learn at School (And Most Needed To Know)

[Lisa Avery] What I Didn’t Learn at School (And Most Needed To Know)

September 27, 2017

Lisa is Growing With Gratitude’s Head of Operations UK and a positive psychologist, with over a decade of experience in educational settings. She’s particularly passionate about empowering young people through positive psychology, helping them uncover previously hidden strengths and tap into deep reserves of resilience. Such clarity and confidence fosters greater levels of self-esteem, reflected in academic achievement, social relationships and overall well-being. Lisa also strives to instill the habits of gratitude, kindness and mindfulness into the classroom, creating a positive and nurturing environment in which teachers and pupils thrive.

Enjoy the article…

I had a decent education. I learnt how to read and write. Memorized the capital cities.  Recited Latin declinations. I almost even managed to get my head around algebra (some things are just not meant to be).

Yet for all the knowledge I had, something was missing from my head. My heart. I couldn’t possibly have defined it back then. It’s taken me thirty-six years (and a Master’s Degree) to find the elusive, yet fundamental jigsaw piece.

Its absence affected the way I approached my schoolwork. Influenced the way I interacted with others. Yet more importantly, it seeped into my self-esteem, leaving me unsure of my identity, my capabilities, and my place in the world.

I didn’t realize (and was certainly never taught) that there are deceptively simple, yet infinitely powerful habits and techniques we can adopt to become happier, more resilient and more successful (whatever that means to you).

These habits can be taught at any age, though it’s our mission to arm young people with the tools that will elucidate, empower and enliven every aspect of their psychological, emotional and physical health.

Gratitude

Here are just three simple habits to cultivate optimal well-being at any age (with more to follow).

The brain evolved to ensure our survival, not our happiness. That means it’s always on the lookout for what’s wrong- what could endanger us, be it physically or psychologically. Hence we need to build the mental muscle of gratitude- consciously asking ourselves

“What is right in our current situation?”

“To whom, or for what can we feel gratitude?”

Opportunities for gratitude are everywhere. But first we have to notice. Exchanging our expectations for gratitude means seeing the world with renewed vigour, optimism and love. What’s more, it’s impossible to feel angry, sad or fearful whilst feeling grateful.

Kindness

In his model of psychological well-being, Positive Psychologist Martin Seligman identified human relationships as a key component. After all, we’re inherently social-beings. The absence of adequate social support is detrimental to both the mind and body, with loneliness and isolation having recently been found to be as hazardous for the health as smoking and obesity.

Kindness is a social glue, creating a meaningful bond which unites people through gratitude, trust and love, empowering both the giver and receiver. It thus nurtures human relationships, which in turn makes us thrive.

Look for opportunities to squeeze a little extra kindness into your day, and see how it magically uplifts the world around you.

Mindfulness

How many times are we ever really in the moment? Yet this is where optimal well-being is found (and not when meandering into the past, or projecting into the future). The problem we have is that we believe everything we think is true- which thankfully is not the case.

Simply noticing the thoughts you’re having in the present moment allows you to take a mental step back, distancing yourself from the thought and the susequent emotions it leads to.

Becoming able to identify, and accurately label the emotions we’re experiencing makes us better able to ride them out. By learning to express- and not repress- we’re ultimately liberating ourselves from the tyranny of negative emotions.

I wish I’d known that years ago.

Shouldn’t all schools teach this?

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