Negative people are everywhere, whether it be in the classroom, at home or at the workplace. We often feel trapped and expected to be patient with people who bring us down. Sometimes we’re forced to flee these situations, especially when negativity turns to hate. Escape from negative people can preserve our integrity and save our energies for people who bring out the best in us. We must all make smart choices about the people with whom we associate. After all, our happiness is at stake.
There’s no denying that confidence plays a role in success. What’s harder to determine is just what kind of role. Some say that a confident mindset going into a task is the most important ingredient for success. Others say the only way to be confident is to actually achieve something first. Students must determine for themselves how to gain confidence in a way that supports their happiness and positive sense of self-worth.
Setting aside the 19th century gender-biased language and applying the wisdom to all students, Thoreau is saying something important about success and positive thinking. If students believe they can succeed, then they are halfway home. The power of positive thinking is undeniable. But failure is also crucial. Students must find a balance here between positive thinking and acceptance of their imperfections. Only then will they learn how to persevere.
Students think and talk about happiness all of the time. Some believe happiness is something we control and that if we just do the right things we will become happy. There are others who think of happiness as a byproduct of a good environment and not something we can control. The issue of whether we control our happiness is an important one because it determines whether or not a student develops a healthy capacity for self-motivation and goal-setting.
When students hear the mantra “You can make a difference in the world,” there’s often an eye-roll. Students struggle to see how the actions of a few can have big consequences for the many. The fallout of this attitude is that many won’t decide to participate in that school-wide fundraiser, start that club or vote in the next election. The impulse to remain apathetic is strong but, as Mead reminds us, it just takes a different way of thinking to liberate us to act.
Students know what it feels like to be hurt. When they are hurt, they have choices to make about how to treat the people who hurt them. These choices give them opportunities to demonstrate empathy and respect for others and to preserve relationships, or break them off. Forgiveness is a moral choice which strikes at the heart of ethical decision-making.
Respect is something all students want. The question is how to get it. Students are told that if they hold themselves in high regard, people will want to be around them. They are also told that respect comes from doing things for others. Though the path towards respect is different for people, all agree that it is a worthwhile pursuit and leads to greater self-awareness and self-efficacy.
Goal-setting is thought to be a skill of highly successful people. Some students are really good at it. They map out their life events with certain outcomes in mind. Other students just want to ‘go with the flow’ and goal-setting makes them nervous and unfulfilled. The value of goal-setting is in dispute and, therefore, students must decide for themselves how they want to integrate it into their life activities.
All students have run across “know-it-alls”. They might be one themselves. They walk into a room and express supreme confidence with their knowledge. Being humble is seen as a sign of weakness. Then there are those timid students who wait patiently, ask questions and only speak when they are certain of something. Confidence and humility are noble traits. The life-long challenge is striking the right balance between the two.
Every student knows a little something about enemies and conflict. They don’t get along with everybody and these inevitable conflicts force them to make choices about how to treat other people. These choices have real consequences as they impact their capacities to build and sustain friendships.
Kids are in the midst of making so many ethical choices about the types of people they should be hanging out with. There is peer pressure to spend time with friends who may make questionable life choices but whose approval is important for a child’s self-esteem. Friendship advice from parents, coaches and other authority figures often go unheard because they conflict with what kids believe inside. Decisions on which company to keep are never easy but they are integral to the healthy moral development of human beings.
Success, students are told, comes from doing well in school, building friendships and finding the right career. The only problem is they aren’t told exactly how to find this success and whether actually loving what they do should even be a consideration. As a result, it’s important for students to develop a self-awareness around what success means to them and how they plan to get it.