Children who learn to harness the power of their thoughts develop hard-wired, life-long neural connections aligned with success. One of the most important lessons we can teach our children is that they can decide what they think about. No matter the challenge, we can choose both our perspective and our response.
Optimism vs Pessimism
Stress inhibits learning. Anxiety closes us down. Pessimism limits opportunity. From a brain science perspective, stress, anxiety, and pessimism force the amygdala (the brain’s integrative center for emotions and motivations) to prevent information from flowing optimally into our prefrontal cortex (where executive functioning takes place). Children learn through emotion and experience; positive, playful emotions promote growth. Negative, unhappy emotions hinder development. An optimistic brain works better!
Pour a glass half-full and observe it with children. As we discuss how we view the glass, we reveal something about ourselves and how we see the world. We can ask our children if they see the glass “half-empty” or “half-full.” After they’ve shared their thoughts, explain that while both perspectives are technically correct, we have the power to choose how we see things.
If we teach children to think with a “glass half-full” mindset, they’ll be inclined to navigate life with more hope and greater confidence. When we see things optimistically, we tend to be more resilient and develop happier, healthier, and more effective approaches to whatever life throws our way. Even if we have a hard time seeing it, there are positive lessons in virtually every situation.
Real Life Examples
Depending on a child’s age and maturity-level, the abstract lesson of glass “half-empty” or “half-full” might not click for them. Invite children to write down a particularly challenging real-life situation they’ve experienced, along with how unconfident expectations may have put them at a disadvantage—or how confident expectations may have given them a competitive edge. By hearing about their perspectives, we can talk about how our thoughts influence feelings and responses that, in-kind, influence other’s feelings and responses towards us. Later, as everyday situations arise, dad can keep the conversation going, reinforcing how, one way or another, both pessimism and optimism hold great influence over outcomes.
American author and educator, Helen Keller, wrote, “Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.” Keller, who was both blind and deaf, taught the truth that our thoughts bring us closer to the things we think about. Relative to apprehension and despair, our children are infinitely better equipped with hope and confidence.
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” —Psalm 139:23-24 NLT
Every moment matters. Each of us has an invisible bucket. When our bucket is full, we feel great. When it’s empty, we feel awful. Yet most children (and many adults) don’t realize the importance of having a full bucket.
Based on the extraordinary course pioneered by José Silva in the 1960s, this accessible guidebook uses meditation and visualization to help you alleviate stress, overcome bad habits and emotional insecurity, increase creativity, develop concentration, harness your dreams, and deepen your relationships. Featuring transformative advice and fascinating case studies, this revolutionary book teaches you to use your mind at a deeper and more effective level and reveal its extraordinary power.
Release the negative thoughts and feelings that are weighing you down and make room for the good things you should have in your life! How much room are you giving to shame, to regret, to being against yourself? Whatever it is, it’s too much. Life is too short for you to live bitter and discouraged, letting your circumstances hold you back. Every morning you have to empty out anything negative from the day before and put on a fresh new attitude. Power up and get your mind going in the right direction, and you’ll step into all the new things God has in store for you.
PLEASE NOTE: As an Amazon Associate, Fathers Truly Matter earns from qualifying purchases. The information in this post should not be construed as providing specific psychiatric, psychological, or medical advice, but rather to offer readers information to better understand the lives and health of themselves and their children. It is not intended to provide an alternative to professional treatment or to replace the services of a physician, psychiatrist, or psychotherapist.