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Aug 24, 2009

Today, a local high school was shaken when a former student detonated a pipe bomb in the school. Thankfully, no injuries have been reported.  Friday night, another local student committed suicide on the train tracks, near where two others ended their lives weeks apart last spring, and where another suicide was narrowly averted.

These kind of tragedies seem to becoming more common all around the country.  It scares me as a parent, and saddens me as someone who feels everyday is good and we all have so much to look forward to.  As a society, we are failing miserably to protect and nourish our most precious assets:  our children.

We see fingers pointed in all directions.  There’s too much pressure on kids these days.  The family unit has broken down.  There’s less community support.  Parents are working too much to spend quality time with their children.  Mass media is bad influence, etc.     And I’m sure there are many other contributing factors.  But you know what?  The pressures and challenges on our children are only going to get worse.  The world is getting flatter, change is happening faster, and children are going to continue to be exposed to more challenges earlier and earlier.

So what are we going to do about it?  I believe a big part of the answer is something we don’t hear much talk about:  Make “emotional state management” a mandatory part of the K-12 curriculum.  Huh? Our schools are understaffed and overburdened, and I’m talking about some new mind control program? Here’s what I mean:

Have you ever noticed the diversity of responses to a situation?  To take an extreme example, imagine a bomb goes off.   One person’s response may be to want to hunt down and punish the person responsible.  Someone else may just sit and cry or want to hide from society.  Another person sees the fragility of life, and is thankful for their friends and family.  Yet another may organize a non-violent peaceful response to prevent future tragedies.   It doesn’t matter whether we’re talking about a bomb blast, a rainy day, a bad grade or a lost job  - individuals react differently to the same event -  yet some responses are far better for the individual and society than others. 

What determines the response?  State of mind – which is a result of our beliefs, values, focus, and physiology.  As the range of reactions shows, our response is not a reflection of the event, our response is a reflection of ourselves.  And while reptiles have no control over their response, higher minds like humans do.   Most people just don’t realize they have this power.  For the vast majority of us, someone needs to teach us.  I’m not talking about positive thinking or self-discipline –  I’m talking about understanding what makes us happy and learning the simple skills to empower ourselves.  Problem is, most of our parents didn’t exactly know how to make themselves happy or know how to weather storms with grace… and fewer still teach such skills to their children. 

So we spend our time in school learning history, math and theory, but no one teaches us how to stay positive, energized and fulfilled through life.  Thus, the smartest kid in class is seldom the most successful in life – and it’s often that popular kid who wasn’t so good in school who ends up seemingly having everything go their way in life.  After all, math and science can help you get a job, but if you’re not prepared to weather the inevitable rough patches in life, all that education doesn’t matter.

As you can garner from my little rant, this is one of my pet peeves. I’ve been privileged to have attended some of the “best” schools in the country, and I can tell you they did almost nothing to help me deal with adversity, be happy, and feel passionate about life.  I’m grateful for what they taught me, but they left a gaping hole in educating their students – which makes all the difference between success and failure.  In my 20s, I learned personal emotional management techniques through reading and attending seminars (Tony Robbins is the best teacher I ever had) which allowed me to overcome my fears of failure and start Care2. 

My point being, let’s teach our kids what’s most important.  Tough times are a guarantee.  So let’s arm our kids with the skills and knowhow to live happy, productive, fulfilling lives.   The tragedies we’ve seen here in recent days are preventable, but only if kids are taught how to channel their frustrations to produce good outcomes.  And in so doing, we’ll have created the most empowered and optimistic generation we’ve ever seen.

If anyone knows of any school systems that are teaching students how to manage their emotional state, I’d love to hear about them!

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Posted: Aug 24, 2009 5:39pm


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Randy Paynter
, 1
Hillsborough, CA, USA
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