7 High-leverage life skills they should teach in grade school

Post image for 7 High-leverage life skills they should teach in grade school

They don’t need to take up too much math or science time, maybe just a single two-hour class for each, covering two a year. Plant a few seeds and leave them alone. They’ll grow, in in the minds of certain kids where the conditions are right, and their progress will be gradual but unstoppable.

These skills aren’t easy. I suck at most of them, but I know they’re all I really need to know how to do. Simply introduce them and they’ll lead a person to anything else he needs to know. In me, the seeds have germinated, no question about that. I am gradually getting better at them. They take years, so I wish I’d started in grade school.

1) Letting people misunderstand and dislike you

I used to really believe that somebody getting the wrong idea about me was some kind of problem that had to be fixed. This is the kind of fear that would prevent me from, say, renting “Heavenly Creatures” because everyone knows it has Kate Winslet’s boobs in it and the Blockbuster girl would think I’m renting it only because I’m a huge perv and not because it’s a good movie. It’s a tiny example, but that’s a genuine wall I built there. One of thousands.

It takes an enormous amount of energy to try and manipulate people’s knee-jerk impressions of you, and it makes you into a fearful, pandering creature. It’s completely impossible anyway, and there’s so little to gain even when you pull it off. Instead of someone getting a baseless negative impression of you, they get a baseless positive one.

The amount of pain suffered in vain by people trying to be liked by everyone is unimaginable. It drives people crazy. It makes people kill themselves.

Make no apologies or explanations for what you want, and let the unknown faces dislike or distrust you. Study your fear of leaving bad impressions, and practice doing what you want anyway. I bet you’ll become not just more comfortable, but more likable.

Elaine Benes: Who cares if she doesn’t like you? Does everyone have to like you?
George Costanza: Yes! Everyone has to like me!

2) Talking to strangers

School taught me strangers were at worst bad people, and at best irrelevant people. It took me a while to recognize that they were indeed people at all — that they have family members and friends to whom they are not strangers. It took even longer to realize that I am a stranger.

They had an explicit rule about it: Don’t talk to strangers! Stranger is clearly a pejorative word, and they told us to use that word to describe anyone we didn’t know. And don’t let them talk to you!

I am still getting over the idea that people I don’t know are “strange.” Some of the most rewarding moments of my life have happened while breaking this rule.

Kids can still be taught to keep themselves safe without instilling such a damaging view of the casual passer-by.

Imagine if nobody regarded anybody as a stranger, but rather a person they didn’t know. You can’t have wars without strangers. For that and other atrocities, we need a group of people so alien and blank to us that we don’t care what happens to them. 

3) Forgiving

After all this time, all its coverage on Oprah and in religious texts, forgiveness is almost uniformly misunderstood. It does not mean you are okay with what has been done. It doesn’t even mean it doesn’t bother you any more. Forgiving is deciding you will no longer attempt to justify hate or anger, because you know they are damaging to you and your life.

Those feelings will still appear now and then, maybe always, but to forgive is to decide you are done indulging in them. That means no more revenge fantasies, no more nasty remarks. Finally it can begin to recede in your mind.

I’ve experienced a lot of resentment in my life. I’ve mulled it over, wished, fantasized, rehearsed confrontations and diatribes in my head, but I have never once found any true benefit to justifying resentment. All of it is out of control, all of it is painful, all of it is addictive.

There is a comforting feeling in hatred. We imagine it protects us from getting hurt again. This fantasy gives us a spike of relief when we feel powerless, but there is no real power in it. It’s as helpful as thinking about food when you’re stranded on a remote island. Resentment feels good in a bad sort of way. It’s pure mental junk food, only it makes you powerless instead of fat.

4) Letting your moods come and go without trying to force the bad ones away

Oh wow, what a revelation this was. I was 22 before it ever occured to me that bad moods are completely normal and do not indicate that my life has gone wrong.
Bad moods seem to have hallucinogenic properties. They make you misperceive and misinterpret reality.

I’ve described bad moods as “a nasty drug that hijacks your thoughts and robs you of your intuition and perspective.” You simply don’t have access to your higher capacities while you’re in a bad mood — empathy, wisdom, objectivity and patience. They take a vacation, and they’ll definitely be back. So in the mean time don’t do anything that depends on those faculties: don’t make any decisions about your life, don’t make any statements about who you are (to yourself or anyone else), don’t criticize others, and don’t insist that you must feel good right now.

Refusing to bear the odd bout of bad feelings is what drives people to the most desperate behaviors: addictions, blame, bad relationships and crime.

Good moods are much easier to deal with and don’t require any remedial action. But it’s worth remembering that they inevitably give way to not-good moods. So if you suddenly don’t feel so hot, don’t take that as a signal that things are going wrong. It’s just a change in the wind. Moods move like weather: there are patterns, bad conditions are inevitable, and any given cell is always on its way out.

5) Doing things you are afraid of

I’m slowly learning that the best response to fear is curiosity. When the thought of doing something makes you uncomfortable, all that means is that its consequences are unfamiliar and unpredictable. That might be good. It always means there is some seriously new ground that can be broken right now.

Of all these skills, this is the one I’m worst at. Yet I keep discovering the same encouraging thing whenever I do it — once you walk right into it, the fear part gives way pretty quickly. It’s like a thin shell you thought was a wall. The rewards are always way closer and more accessible than I think.

The sequence unfolds the same way, nine times out of ten. One moment it’s “Oh man I am never doing that.” Then you take that first step — and it literally is a step, a movement of the leg. You watch yourself moving into it in the first person and the mind is saying “Holy shit, this is it, I’m nuts.” Then you’re in the middle of it, saying what you need to say or doing what you need to do. Then you realize you’re on the other side, making things happen in a place you thought was forbidden to you. Then you’re giddy and grateful the rest of the day.

In the cradle of civilization, almost anyone can heed almost all their fears yet still survive in reasonable comfort. So some people never make a point of this.

Although I sometimes wish it weren’t true, this seems to be law:

How often you do things you’re afraid of is a reliable barometer for how quickly you’re becoming a more capable person.

6) Watching the moment unfold as it will and letting go of your need to control it

Whenever I even mention this idea, people panic. “But we can’t just let things happen! What if terrible things happen?!”

The truth is your life is a steady stream of mostly unpredictable stuff, and there is ultimately very little control to be had over it, other than what you do in response. The best responses are always conscious and calm.

We can learn to be smarter about the risks that we take, but most of what fate has in store for us could never be predicted. Once it’s happening, it’s happening. If you need to do something about it, you still can. But your action doesn’t have to arise from this place of rejecting reality. Planning, preparing, insuring, deciding — all of it can be done at the same time as you let happen what is indeed happening.

You won’t be able to let it all go at once, but it’s amazing what happens when you give yourself a mission to do it for five minutes. Can you let everything unfold as it will for five minutes? Sure you can, and it’s exhilarating. If something happens that has you itching to react, let it be, and when the five minutes is up, you can get right back to trying to stop the world from turning, if you think it’s worthwhile.

7) Noticing attraction and aversion as soon as they appear

We’d all like to think that we’re driven primarily by wisdom and rational thinking, but the truth is the majority of our actions come from very short term attractions and aversions that happen mostly under the radar in the moment. These are the greatest forces driving your life, and if you’re not aware of where they’re leading you, nobody else is either. Trust them at your peril.

This is how we “end up” in careers we don’t like, suffering from compulsive behaviors, or getting into debt. We don’t choose these outcomes consciously, we just follow the little trail of cookies throughout life, and they can lead us to dark places. It’s a simple, thoughtless mechanism designed only to get us from birth to procreation to death, and it drags us along kicking and screaming over rocks and coals, if we’re not aware of how it works.

There is so much to gain from noticing the feelings of attraction and aversion the moment they arise, thinking about what you’re really looking to cling to (or escape from) in that moment, and making sure your action is conscious. No matter how we rationalize our motives, if you observe them you’ll invariably find they almost always consist of a pull towards some kind of promised gratification, or a push away from some kind of promised discomfort.

Imagine if you could feel these pushes and pulls acting on you, then decide what’s actually in your best interest, then do it.

Mastering it is the work of a lifetime, but all you need to do is notice what it feels like when attraction arises, and notice what it feels like when aversion arises. Know what “cookie” it is you’re attached to here, and when it’s no good for you, defy it and see what happens.

***

There. A few more seeds in the ground.

Photo by Naosuke II

***

{ 58 Comments }

Luey Anderson October 24, 2011 at 4:05 am

Hi David!
I would say your seeds are well sown :-) .
I have found your posts/views here on your blog to be consistent in providing real depth of thought to many things each of us often take for granted, so when although I was just going offline and I saw your notice of a new post I heard myself say “Oh Yay!” out loud…it was a no-brainer that reading it was going to keep me from sleep for just a little while longer.
Interesting you chose 7 lessons, which is such a significant number on many levels. I also related to your lessons on a personal level. I do believe they’re truly important, and although I agree that it would be awesomely wonderful if they were all taught to each and every one of us from the “get-go”, and think that as a result the world would truly be the better for it…I’m grateful that at least it’s never too late to learn! Thanks for providing more inspiration to keep learning!
Luey

{ Reply }

David October 24, 2011 at 6:35 am

For sure. They wouldn’t even have to be drilled or anything, like other subjects. Just plant the seeds. There are some things certain teachers mentioned once that I never forgot.

{ Reply }

DiscoveredJoys October 24, 2011 at 4:16 am

Another fine blog, I particularly liked the breadcrumbs analogy.

Here’s a quote you may like if you haven’t already come across it:

Between stimulus and response there is a space.
In that space is our power to choose our response.
In our response lies our growth and our freedom.
~Victor Frankl

I believe if we can live in that gap between stimulus and automatic response we give ourselves room to choose a better way forward. Lay enough thoughtful breadcrumbs and you make your own journey.

{ Reply }

David October 24, 2011 at 6:37 am

Yes I have heard that quote, and that’s really what the last one (and most important one) is about. Most people, most of the time, are just pushed around by arising incentives, and very little of how they end up has to do with who they are. Because they don’t mind the gap.

{ Reply }

John October 24, 2011 at 6:25 am

Wow, this post just blew my mind… I do agree that if we’ll educate properly just 1 generation, we’ll change the world forever.

{ Reply }

Jennifer October 24, 2011 at 7:05 am

What a fabulous post. These are things that I am still trying to learn!

{ Reply }

Daniel M. Wood October 24, 2011 at 7:11 am

Great article!
There is so much I wish I had learned in school.
Goal setting, planning, entrepreneurship, money management, the list could go on forever and yet they are the things that would make the biggest difference in most peoples lives.

{ Reply }

Maria October 24, 2011 at 8:59 am

Sharing this today. I do 90 minutes of yoga in the morning trying to put these points into practice. How truly joyful our lives could be if we start practicing these skill you describe early in our lives. Great post.

{ Reply }

Enriching-Life.com October 24, 2011 at 9:43 am

Dear David, awesome article! Thx for sharing it with us! I love the paragraph about strangers, it all sounds so familiar to me and the more I think about it the more I realise how much harm this rule has caused in my life. I wish schools would adopt your approach and teach these important skills. Michaela

{ Reply }

Jacqueline October 24, 2011 at 10:07 am

David, this is great! I’ve often thought of things I wish they’d taught us in school….my big one is that when someone is mean or rude or condescending to you, it’s not about you, it’s about them. Maybe they’re having a bad day, got in a fight with their (whatever), maybe you resemble someone in their life with whom they’ve had a less-than-positive experience. The lesson is not to take things personally–a big issue of mine. (The Four Agreements–wonderful precepts!) Also, the people come off as the “toughest” are often the ones who are most terrified. Thanks for your blog!

{ Reply }

michi October 24, 2011 at 10:29 am

Already one of my favorite raptitude posts. There have been phases in my life when I was something of a master of #2, turning strangers into people. It was naturally comfortable to be sitting “too close” to someone in a crowded cafe, and waiting in line wasn’t a chore, and all sorts of unusual behavior in others was somehow understandable. The other points are inspirational and I want to work on them now. Thank you for articulating all this!

{ Reply }

Leslie Hood October 24, 2011 at 2:12 pm

Spot on. Love this post. There’s a little anecdote brought to mind by #7, noticing craving and aversion as soon as it arises. A Buddhist teacher (whose name I forget) had a great fondness for yogurt. At a retreat he found himself, after a long meditation, seated at the very end of a table of monks who were passing down the table a large bowl of his favourite food. He noticed that he was becoming anxious about there being none left for him by the time the bowl got there. Then he noticed he was mentally criticizing those monks who were taking “too much.” All the benefits of the meditation were being replaced by irritability and anxiety. So when the bowl got to him, he looked into the bowl, where enough for him still resided, and said “No. No yogurt for this addict!”

{ Reply }

carpet care san diego December 18, 2013 at 8:57 pm

Hi! I know this is kinda off topic but I was wondering
if you knew where I could locate a captcha plugin for my comment form?
I’m using the same blog platform as yours and I’m having difficulty finding one?

Thanks a lot!

{ Reply }

Leslie Hood October 24, 2011 at 2:18 pm

Just had to add another, personal note: Relating to #2, I often find myself being very quick to anger when I’m driving. I notice how the feeling of being so angry stresses and distresses me. So I’ve started practising driving as though everyone on the road is my family, known and equal to me. Instead of a bunch of strangers in our respective cars, I imagine we’re all part of the same group. I find myself much more likely to drive with the other people in mind, making sure there’s enough room for all of us on the road and simply moving out of the way of aggressive and impatient drivers. As it’s a practice, there are moments I suck at it (as David might say), but as I keep practising, I’m getting better at driving as though no one around me is a stranger. Thanks for the post, David. Going to put this one on the fridge for my kids, who are in grades 5 and 9.

{ Reply }

David October 26, 2011 at 6:56 am

That’s a great idea. I do something similar while driving. I think of the other cars as containing vulnerable people whom I could harm if I’m not careful. Almost like they’re babies. Totally changes how I drive, when I remember to do that.

{ Reply }

Elizabeth October 24, 2011 at 3:03 pm

Regarding #1 – for most of my life I was driven by that fear and it pretty much did drive me crazy. I did a lot of negative things to avoid it, including indulging in all sorts of addictive behavior. I was a manipulator in my relationships instead of being an honest participant.

I learned to control it by noticing the feeling that came from the fear and taking time to be with it rather than reacting to it and trying to get my fix of external validation. “Oh, that’s always how I feel when … I don’t have to do anything about this.”

I love that Victor Frankl quote above – it describes so perfectly my experience, personal growth, and feelings of freedom.

{ Reply }

nrhatch October 24, 2011 at 3:14 pm

Wonderful lessons to share with “wee ones,” David.

I’ve often thought that we would do better to teach students how to think, instilling in them a love of learning and of reading and a curiosity about life, rather than drilling them about esoteric facts that they can look up if needed.

Write on!

{ Reply }

David October 26, 2011 at 6:57 am

Yes by all means share these with the wee ones. Maybe leave out my foul language though :)

{ Reply }

David October 24, 2011 at 5:42 pm

I’ve been at work all day and I’m thrilled to come home to see such a great response to this post, out in social media land and here in the comment section. I’m on my way out again (to see my beloved Winnipeg Jets after being separated for 15 years) so I’ll address your lovely comments when I’m back. Have a good Monday evening, and thanks for sharing this post!

{ Reply }

Ben October 24, 2011 at 7:37 pm

David — Just want to say that I’ve enjoyed perusing your site for the last couple days… Sadly I’m running out of material, as I’m catching up with your most current pieces! On the bright side, you’ve hooked another reader.

In this particular article, the paragraph on forgiveness struck a chord with me in a way that few things have lately. Being hurt by someone you love unconditionally can be the most painful feeling a person experiences emotionally in their lifetime. What I have found to be the most difficult and confusing about the period of recovery following such an event is that unconditional love. How can I still love a person who has shown me no respect, and no evidence in their actions that they love me in return? The conclusion seems to be that it doesn’t matter. I can only control what I have the power to control, and that is myself. Like you said, to waste energy contemplating all the alternate paths that could, or might be, is fruitless. That unconditional love is not a betrayal of ourselves, it is instead a reminder: We are good. We are faithful. We are human.

Perhaps that is why they say that forgiveness begins with forgiving yourself.

{ Reply }

David October 26, 2011 at 6:59 am

You hit it on the head with your last line. I have done things that I can’t love myself for, but obviously that can’t disqualify me from self-love. I have to forgive myself for causing harm to others when I’ve been angry or thoughtless. If I can do that for myself I can do that for anyone.

{ Reply }

Julie October 27, 2011 at 9:34 am

Very provocative blog and comment. One of the hardest things (for me) is knowing that no matter how self-aware I am or try to be, someday, sooner or later, I’ll probably be hurtful and thoughtless again, let the worst of me show, and how to make that ok within myself. It is easier to let someone else off the hook than being ok with my own screw-ups.
Work in progress :)

{ Reply }

Chris October 24, 2011 at 7:40 pm

I have got to internalize number one.

{ Reply }

Camille October 25, 2011 at 6:13 am

As a future teacher this is so great information to base from.. I agree with your list.. Thanks for the post!

{ Reply }

Jeff Mcintyre October 25, 2011 at 8:08 am

David,

I just discovered your blog through a RT from one of your followers. Great article, I wonder how many centuries we are away from our school systems to accept such curriculum…

Jeff

{ Reply }

Larissa October 25, 2011 at 7:21 pm

Facing your fears is the number one of right education!

{ Reply }

Maia October 26, 2011 at 3:52 pm

Great post David.
In particular the points about letting people dislike you, being afraid and doing things anyway, being forgiving and talking to strangers resonate with me the most.

Sometimes they are all easier said then done, but we must continue to try our best to push our boundaries, do new things and not hold anger insides us.

{ Reply }

Maia October 26, 2011 at 3:53 pm

Great post David.
In particular the points about letting people dislike you, being afraid and doing things anyway, being forgiving and talking to strangers resonate with me the most.
Sometimes they are all easier said then done, but we must continue to try our best to push our boundaries, do new things and not hold anger insides us.

{ Reply }

Jen October 26, 2011 at 9:53 pm

These are interesting. I have been teaching math to teenagers for 20 years, and a few of these have been part of my sub-curriculum! I would say that the skill I focus most is helping young people be comfortable in the mystery. We are a culture of immediate gratification and fast routes to solutions .. and thus we are horribly uncomfortable in the “not knowing” that regularly presents itself .. and similarly, not so great at reflection. In the right environment (safe, supportive, not competitive), math can be a wonderful medium in which to develop both of these. If you can sit with the mystery for a bit, find your intuitive voice, remember what you already know, and approach a problem with openness and the belief that you will eventually move through the “not knowing” to a clearer place, you develop a skill that will serve far beyond the math classroom. Additionally, it’s always great to make mistakes .. that’s actually where the best learning takes place!! (all the famous mathematicians working on proofs and theorems spent far more time making mistakes than getting it right!) Reflecting and revisiting, trying again, knowing when to ask for help, knowing when to offer it, and working together to understand a process/solution .. these are all skills that will be so, so important for our young people in the coming decades.

If you want to read a great article on some of the more positive educational ideas being discussed these days check out the NYT magazine article:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/18/magazine/what-if-the-secret-to-success-is-failure.html?pagewanted=all

Best,

Jen

{ Reply }

David October 30, 2011 at 9:50 pm

Math does have a certain purity to it. I think it’s incredibly healthy. I like your point about being comfortable in the mystery, even when it comes to something as explicit as math. If people could only be okay with not quite getting it — people get so impatient while learning a concept, but once you know the rules it always always works. Few things always work like that.

{ Reply }

Gazelle October 27, 2011 at 1:18 am

Hi David,
This is a wonderful post, very well explained. I hope this will help for those who teach in grade school.

{ Reply }

Linda October 27, 2011 at 12:27 pm

At firs,t since these lessons were supposed to be taught to grades schools, I thought I knew them all. I agree that they will take some time to learn. Though my kids won’t understand them now, I know in time they’ll remember these teachings and apply them when they are ready.

{ Reply }

Rosa Conti October 28, 2011 at 7:08 pm

You’re fab, David. Just discovered your blog a few weeks (?) ago via a friend. Love your thinking — man, we’d have fun playing w/thoughts of Life! Keep blazing your trail, fellow brother. ox

{ Reply }

David November 4, 2011 at 6:46 pm

Thanks Rosa

{ Reply }

cantaloupe October 29, 2011 at 1:54 am

These are unteachables.

{ Reply }

David October 30, 2011 at 9:56 pm

Maybe in the conventional sense. But you can introduce concepts and values. Just get the seeds in the ground and if it takes it takes.

{ Reply }

Mike Llewellyn October 29, 2011 at 4:00 am

Great post nicely written! Should be required reading for all teachers and parents, and well, everybody :-)

{ Reply }

Maria October 29, 2011 at 5:29 pm

I’ll probably be hurtful and thoughtless again, let the worst of me show, and how to make that ok within myself. It is easier to let someone else off the hook than being ok with my own screw-ups. Keep up the good work.

{ Reply }

David October 30, 2011 at 10:01 pm

Try thinking of yourself as someone else.

{ Reply }

Mike October 30, 2011 at 7:08 pm

I have spent so much time trying to please everyone, and acting in a way that works for that paticular group. I have a hard time realizing who I really am. I have been taking steps in being truer to who I am, and doing things that I know people will not like(makes me very uncomfortable), but telling myself that in 100 years none of this will even matter. There is a problem that I have run into. In the past I could get along with anyone because I would make myself into whatever the situation called for. Now that I am taking steps to always be myself, I find that sometimes it puts me in situtaion where the lines are getting blured with being apporiate and polite, and chosening to say what I feel. What Im saying is that ceratin situation come up(work, and wife friends.) where I feel like being polite and saying nothing is going against what Im trying to change in myself. I want to not care, but at what expense.

{ Reply }

David October 30, 2011 at 10:00 pm

I think the Buddhists have some good rules of thumb when it comes to what’s appropriate to say. Say what you feel but when you speak, first ask: Is it true? Is it kind? Is it helpful? Don’t say you’re okay with something if you’re not, but be kind.

{ Reply }

Margie November 1, 2011 at 11:06 am

I so enjoyed your list of the seven life skills they should teach in grade school! Like you, I feel that I “suck at them!” I especially like # 2, as I have never believed that we should be afraid of strangers…why, a stranger is usually a friend I haven’t met yet! (My husband teases me about chit-chatting with “new friends” in the check-out line.)

I would like to add a few more vital skills we need to teach our children in grade school: empathy, compassion, and civility. We live in an interconnected and fast changing world; governments are experiencing major social upheavals. We need to reach a new level of global ethics—a revolution in our way of thinking and relating to one another if we are to continue to exist as a species. It is imperative to adopt a different mindset that reflects our connectedness to each other and with nature.

It would be wonderful to combine your list and my list and use it to develop educational a curriculum for our children! What would our society be like if we all developed a healthy sense of self along with a sense of connectedness with others?

{ Reply }

Lauren November 1, 2011 at 1:54 pm

Wow – love this! #1 & #6 are things that I am working on at this time and finding that the more I embrace them, the more incredibly free I feel… like I have a weight taken off of me. Just those two have made me live each day so much happier. I will definitely work on the rest and watch the way those impact my life as well. Wonderful things to share with everyone, especially when they are young.

{ Reply }

AM November 5, 2011 at 11:44 am

Point 6 and 7 confuse me. Dont they kind of contradict each other? ‘Let things happen’ vs ‘control the factors that change your life’

{ Reply }

Mads Singers November 5, 2011 at 5:12 pm

Talking to strangers is good – however for me it’s more overall about teaching communication.

{ Reply }

Ali November 5, 2011 at 9:22 pm

A year ago my husband and best friend and I got divorced (amicably) with promises made to always be in each other’s lives. We still considered one another family, and still loved each other as friends, you see. Eight weeks later he met someone else aaaaand…as I’m sure you’ve already guessed I was cut out of his life completely. So I’ve been trying to actively forgive him while accepting I may have yucky feelings about it from time to time. What you said about forgiveness was spot on, and articulating it the way you did certainly helped me just that much more. So thank you:). I loved your list so much I’m going to share it with my students on Monday. I’m glad I stumbled upon you your blog, and will pass it on!

{ Reply }

Bob_G November 7, 2011 at 2:49 pm

Excellent practice points, especially #1.

Nina Simone sings:
“I’m just a soul whose intentions are good.
Oh Lord! Please don’t let me be misunderstood!”

So much misery is created by not accepting (a) that there will always be those who will misunderstand and/or dislike you, and (b) when this occurs it does not mean that you are the victim of an intolerable injustice/catastrophe.

{ Reply }

Robyn November 7, 2011 at 7:13 pm

This is an excellent read, for me as a teacher, as well as a person in general. I find a lot of resonance in #3 and #5, because I often use hate to bury a lot of unresolved issues when people hurt me, and like you, I am the worst at confronting my fears, and I am still very bad at it, so in a way, I’m also encouraged by what you have written and I am going to be more conscious in confronting my fear.

As an educator, these values/skills are indeed hard to teach to students. However, I think whenever there is an opportunity, especially if students open up and share their problems, those will be great opportunities to tell them these, and offer them the alternative viewpoint they need to handle some of their problems.

{ Reply }

Elizabeth M November 9, 2011 at 10:16 pm

I have three children, ages 8, 4, and (almost) 2. Since kindergarten for the oldest, we have been a home schooling family. Many people think we’re crazy. Some think we’re cool. A lot don’t understand. But regardless of everyone else’s opinion, home schooling is the right thing for my family. Part of the reason is because we place importance on life skills. Yes, at the end of the year, we’ve accomplished our academic goals. But there are days throughout that year when our primary teaching has been focused on life skills. It varies from practical skills that are taught in school (assuming they still teach things like financial budgeting somewhere) to heart-life skills. Skills that are about how we see the people around us, how we see ourselves, how to grow spiritually as well as physically. Skills that are centered in our being and not in our brains.
I read your post on a day where we focused on these kinds of skills. It’s very encouraging to see the number of people who also think this is important. Thanks.

{ Reply }

Cici Williams November 10, 2011 at 10:06 pm

As a high school student, I would really like to say thanks alot for this. I really would like to work on all of this, especially #’s 1,3,4,and 6.

{ Reply }

Elora November 13, 2011 at 12:14 am

I think I’m finding this a bit late, but it doesn’t make it any less valuable. I *absolutely* wish these were things taught in school, because like so many people, I struggled with some of them. Or maybe not so much taught as just “Hey, this will happen…don’t get too worked up about it”. Seeing this post came at a perfect time, because I still find myself grappling with people disliking me. Misunderstanding, for whatever reason, I’ve become accustomed to. And it’s hypocritical, right after telling a friend that she doesn’t think highly enough of herself, how much I value her, etc. Thanks for this.

I should also mention that I took a look through the rest of your blog, and really enjoyed it. So many people find the time to create blogs and write about superficial things, and that is their right. But you, on the other hand, seem to want to share with people and help them when possible, through your personal experiences. Helping other people is one of the most valiant purposes (if not the most) one can have. There are not enough people like you.

{ Reply }

Miranda S November 22, 2011 at 8:17 pm

This is brilliant! I realized I’ve picked up several of these skills on my own, which might explain why I’ve turned out quite different from many of my classmates. And I feel great about it! My stress/anxiety level is almost always very low (except of course when I’m in a bad mood) and I feel a lot happier because I’m not trying to impress everyone. However, I don’t think schools will be teaching these skills anytime soon. Could you imagine the riots that some parents would start if schools started teaching children that it is okay to talk to strangers? That it is okay to be in a bad mood or act on curiosity? No, society these days teaches kids to sit down, shut up, and do what they are expected, exactly how it is taught. It makes me sad to see such curiosity and potential stifled because a kid is basically brainwashed to believe that they have to fit it. I’m so thankful that somehow I escaped such brainwashing.

{ Reply }

Vanessa December 15, 2011 at 7:12 pm

Reading this post was really great for me. The lesson on forgiveness is the most relevant to me at this time in my life; it was both insightful and comforting to come to understand forgiveness in the way you explained it above. It’s also interesting how all of these ideas overlap. I’ll have to come back every now and then when life gets confusing so I can take another look at these, rethink things, and tend to the garden you’ve planted in my head.

{ Reply }

David December 19, 2011 at 7:27 am

Thanks Vanessa.

{ Reply }

Ann December 27, 2011 at 6:14 pm

Hi, David…a friend just sent me your writing and I am very grateful. Can you please say a little bit about #7 in relation to our instincts? I have learned often not always that the “gut feeling” is produced for a reason..protection as well as grace. Are you describing instinct with #7 or maybe I’m not reading it thoroughly? Thank you

{ Reply }

David December 28, 2011 at 8:30 am

Hi Ann. Whenever we notice something new (you learn a new piece of news, someone new walks into the room, something falls and breaks) we have an immediate feeling reaction — either attraction to this new development, or repulsion. This happens all the time and often we suffer when we are attracted to things we don’t have, or are repulsed by things we do have.

I wrote a whole article about it here:

http://www.raptitude.com/2011/02/we-check-email-17-times-a-day-because-we-like-to-get-high/

{ Reply }

Kim Patron January 8, 2012 at 1:35 am

“Strangers are friends we haven’t met yet. :)

{ Reply }

Jaiper Feliciano November 6, 2013 at 8:50 am

It’s good to read this information from your post. You have an interesting way of drawing people in. Keep up the good works..

{ Reply }

Leave a Comment

{ 19 Trackbacks }


Raptitude is an independent blog by