Anger is one of those emotions that we say is inherently dangerous and unpredictable. If we are angry, we are told to wait it out a little and let the intense feelings pass. Yet, sometimes getting angry is actually a wise strategy, especially if we feel that our loved ones are in danger or we must defend ourselves. A quick, smart angry response is the better solution. Students must learn how and when to use anger to achieve the best possible outcomes for themselves and others.
Being a good person is hard enough. It’s even harder when we occupy positions of authority. That’s because authority gives us leeway to deal with others in whatever way we want, and carry through with punishments of our design. How we execute our power reveals our true values because we had the power to choose otherwise. Yet, adversity and hardship test our values too, and sometimes uncover more of who we really are.
Happiness is something that everyone wants. Sometimes, though, our imaginations create anxiety and actually prevent us from experiencing happiness. We make things worse than they actually are because of what we create in our minds. Yet, at other times, it is our actual experiences that create our suffering and our imaginations either magnify or diminish their importance. The power of the imagination is unique to each individual and can be a source of our happiness or despair.
Student success is mostly talked about in terms of achieving certain ends like getting a job, acing a test or winning a championship. Failure is seen as the opposite of success and something to avoid at all costs. But perhaps failure is the necessary fuel behind our success for without it, we could never achieve greatness in anything. The relationship between success and failure is a complicated one that students must sort out on their own.
Kids rush into decision-making without forethought sometimes. They do it on term papers, in class projects and even in their relationships. Often, this approach causes more heartache and work in the long run. There is a lot to be said about careful, slow planning to avoid mistakes. But there’s also an inherent danger in taking the cautious approach. For if they spend all of their time planning, then there’s not much left for experimentation and learning from mistakes.
Of the many components to a strong character, none is more important than a person having a strong system of values. A person who has strong values stands for something, has a stable guide for behavior and prevents him/herself from being taken advantage of. But if a person is too rigid with a value system, then a different problem surfaces– that person becomes oblivious to new ideas and opportunities to grow. Knowing when to change values and when to stick to them is a life-long challenge.
We constantly compare ourselves to others, often concluding that they have it much better than we do. We spend much of life idolizing people and, in the process, give them power over us. Yet, what’s lost here is the stark truth that other people have just as many insecurities and problems as we do and that, because of this, we could focus on the power we have to be the best versions of ourselves.
Enemies have a way of bringing out the worst in us. They make us act and think in mean ways. When we mimic the behaviors of our enemies we get revenge on them and feel a fleeting sense of accomplishment. But, in the process, we feel badly because we stoop to their level. Maybe resisting anger is a better way to respond. That way, we maintain self-control and draw attention to our enemy’s negative behavior and are able to preserve our own integrity.
We’re always telling children that it’s important not to complain about things and that it’s always better to be part of the solution, rather than the problem. If you don’t like your situation, then change it. We also tell children that it’s important to know when you can’t change things and to accept the world the way it is. In those situations it is our attitude that needs fixing. Knowing when to work towards change and knowing when to accept the status quo is a form of wisdom that can only be gained through experience.
Students are always being told to do their best and that there is intrinsic value to putting in a hard day of work, regardless of whether they achieve what they set out to do. Students are also expected to achieve results from their work. After all, there seems to be little value in working so hard if goals aren’t met in the end. All students must balance these conflicting expectations throughout their lives and figure out their own way to define the value of their efforts.
Adults sing the praise of the importance of patience. The advice to kids usually goes something like this: if you are patient and work hard over time, you put yourself in a position to accomplish great things. Success never comes easy. Life is a grind and you should develop a growth mindset to persevere through it. Though sometimes a person’s life experiences seems to teach the opposite lesson; that sometimes going after what you want quickly and aggressively will lead to even greater accomplishments. Impatience can be a virtue as well.
Students are no strangers to power. They have parents, coaches and teachers exerting power over them and telling them what to do. Students slowly develop a moral sensibility towards authority figures and are quick to point out when they feel power is being used in negative and positive ways.