Happiness Hacks

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Teaching Our Children Patience

 For a 2 minute audio version click here

Instilling patience in our children can come down to the way we praise them. 

Caroline Dweck, a respected psychologist at Stanford University, talks about two ways on how we can praise our children.
1. Intelligence – “You are so smart.”
2. Effort – “You must have worked really hard”
Dweck researched this in fifth grade New York classrooms where a single child was taken out of the classroom for  nonverbal IQ tests consisting of a series of puzzles that were not too challenging for their age.
Upon completing the puzzles, some children were praised for their intelligence – “You are so smart.”  Others were praised for their effort – “You must have worked really hard”
Then the students were given a choice of tests for the second round between a puzzle that was more difficult than the last, or another easy puzzle just like the first one.
90% of the children praised for their effort chose the harder test, while the majority of children praised for intelligence chose the easy one.   The so-called smart kids had avoided the challenge to protect themselves from the embarrassment of making mistakes.
Dweck explained:  When we praise children for their intelligence, we tell them to present as smart by not risking making mistakes.  Emphasising effort, on the other hand, gives the child a variable that they can control.  They’d come to see themselves as in control of their success.
One of the final stages of the study was giving the children puzzles that were so beyond their age level ability that it was virtually impossible for them to assemble properly.
Again the two groups approached the matter completely differently.  Kids praised for hard work were energised by the challenge.  They persisted longer, showing much higher levels of patience.  The kids praised by intelligence gave up much more easily showing high levels of impatience and frustration.
We should be striving to praise our children’s efforts and not necessarily inborn abilities.
Children are often energised by challenge, hence praising effort lets them know that with hard work we can confront and even overcome daunting challenges.

Fostering Patience #2 Being Mission Oriented

For a 3 minute audio version click here

Patience is a trait that is often called for in our daily life.  Maintaining one’s composure can make the difference between a flourishing or tension-filled marriage, one’s ability to parent effectively, and one's effectiveness with getting along with difficult personalities in the workplace.  

Our reactions to different occurrences in life are largely based upon the way we frame a particular stimulus.  That frame is grounded in our beliefs about life and about what happens in life.  Let’s explore a framework that lays the groundwork for more patience in the face of hassles.

Divine Providence

Fundamental to Jewish faith is the concept that not only did G-d create the world, but He continues to direct its affairs.

The Bal Shem Tov taught this concept based on the verse in Psalms
“G-d established the steps of man.”  Meaning, g-d imparts the desire to a person to travel to a specific place….. Therefore, when we come to a particular place, we must take this to heart and ask ourselves, “Why am I here? For what purpose did G-d bring me here? It is certainly not for naught” 

The annoying part of missing a flight or being stuck in traffic is that we need to be elsewhere.  We have an agenda and expectations.

But the Baal Shem Tov argues, we don’t need to be elsewhere.  The One Who put us here in the first place, is the One Who is directing us.

Wherever we are, whether it’s a place we would like to be on not, we are there for a purpose: to do an act of kindness or to learn something new.  Our focus should shift to what that purpose might be.

The Joy of Purpose
When it comes time to finding purpose in a given hassle, there is no book to tell you what the purpose is.  We are in charge to figure it out.

This way of life is not intuitive.  It’s a learned awareness, that something larger than ourselves defines our path in life.  But with a purposeful perspective, we are able to develop patience.  With a purposeful mindset, we can calmly handle frustrations and annoyances of life, knowing that these are purposeful opportunities, enabling us to accomplish something important for which we were created.

And this is not an all or nothing proposition.  There are not simply to kinds of people: Mission oriented or self-oriented.  Most of us lie somewhere in between these two extremes.  The more we are able to align ourselves with the notion that we are here to serves something higher, the more we will be able to find purpose in things like waiting on a long line or being stuck in traffic.

Fostering Patience #1 Self-Awareness

For a 2 minute audio version click here

Benefits of Patience
In my last post I defined patience, a trait so often called for in daily life.

The far reaching benefits of patience have been demonstrated in numerous research studies that find higher levels of happiness and more effective overall coping skills in individuals who are patient.  By working on changing one’s perspective when faced either with the ‘little ’annoyances of daily routine as well as when struggling to cope with more major life events, individuals can transform their lives so that frustration can serve as a source of growth rather than a source of conflict or stress.

In my upcoming blog posts I will be sharing proven strategies that are effective in improving frustration tolerance while increasing one’s ability to remain calm in the face of provocation.

We must learn how to recognise the situations or events most likely to trigger angry, impatient responses.  Specific triggers will differ from person to person.  Systematically tracking the patterns that cause and trigger stress is a crucial first step.  Rabbi Yechiel Perr calls nipping impatience in the bud, “opening the space between the match and the fuse.” This is similar to Viktor Frankl’s “Between the stimulus and the response there is a space, and in this space lies our power and freedom.”

When we are more aware, we are better equipped to occupy the space between the trigger and the fuse of impatience with calming strategies.

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