Principal Musings for April-Reposted

Dear Parents,
Happy spring!  This is the time of the year that we all wait for even after our mild winter.  I so enjoy our longer days and hopefully warmer, sunnier mornings.
I have been writing all year about Growth Mindset, Fostering Resiliency, and Building Grit in our young adults (and for us older adults).  I recently read another article that I would like to share with you.  The article was entitled “The Biology of Positive Habits:  Your Brain May be Hard-Wired to Focus on the Negative, but with Practice You can Reprogram It.”  It was published in the Harvard Graduate School’s recent publication of Usable Knowledge.
In the article, the authors maintain that to manage stress, we must build positive habits slowly over time.  They maintain that the human brain has evolved with a “negativity bias.”  Our memories and psychological state has a predisposition to remember and hold onto negative memories.  From a survival standpoint, it works.  You need to remember dangerous situations so that you don’t replicate them.  However, the bias also works in smaller ways too.  Our negative thoughts and emotions have a more lasting ‘shelf life’. However, there is a silver lining to this new theory.  WE can retrain our thinking.
According to researchers at University of California, Berkeley, mindfulness help.  Mindfulness can help us be aware of our immediate feelings.  We often hear the term of staying present.  By keeping focused, you can decrease your anxiety or your worries about what has or will happen and focus on the here and now.  By doing so, you can tease out the positive pieces of each experience.
The professor leading a California study on retraining our brains offers five mindfulness exercises that build positive thinking habit they are:
  1. Take a break.  Look at something new and positive.  Savor that feeling of calm.
  2. Practice looking for small moments of beauty or kindness.  Look at nature or a smile with a stranger.
  3. Search for and comment on positive aspects of others.
  4. Exercise.  Use yoga or meditate to relax and calm.
  5. Be persistent.  Change takes time.
I really enjoyed this article and hope that you enjoyed my brief summary of it.  You can find their free newsletter at: http://www.gse.harvard.edu/uk
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