For most kids, this is a great time to be alive. Children have more opportunity than at any time in history. Global economic development is at an all-time high. Life expectancy is up. Infant mortality down. Worldwide literacy is up. Though there are still many pockets of challenges both in the US and around the world, children born today are better off than any time in history by almost any measure. So if it’s so great to be a kid, why does it feel so hard to be a parent?
With greater opportunities have come far greater challenges. Technology connects our kids and puts the world at their fingertips. But it can also be isolating, and it brings new dangers — overuse, cyber bullying, online reputation protection, and inappropriate content to name a few. We’ve never known more about health and wellness, yet teenage obesity, diabetes, and mental health have never been of greater concern. Helicopter parenting has magnified these issues, creating a generation ill equipped to handle life’s challenges. With more opportunity in front of them than ever, and with modern miracles of science and technology at their fingertips, the question is: why aren’t our children better prepared for life?
Aristotle said Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom. We agree. In our lifetimes, the world has shrunk dramatically, our access to everything in it has increased, and our children are bombarded by stimuli of all kinds: 24-hour breaking news and an unending stream of new technologies; daily health scares, and threats unimaginable just a few short years ago; all while Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, SnapChat, Music.ly, and a host of other technologies demand their attention every minute of the day. Mass media and social networks magnify things that are not important and dismiss the things that are. Pressure to do well in school has skyrocketed. With even Harvard rejecting thousands of 4.0 GPA applicants, good grades are no longer enough; our kids are expected to excel at sports, in extracurricular activities, philanthropy, even in business, all before graduating high school. In all the hubbub, it’s no wonder they’ve lost track of what’s most important: themselves.
What does knowing yourself actually mean? To us, it means both the literal (your anatomy – how you are put together), as well as the functional (your physiology – how your body works), and the psychological (your mind – how it makes decisions, learns, and feels). It can extend to the metaphysical (your identity, or being), the spiritual (your belief system, and how you relate to your creator), and beyond. There’s no one definition; just lifelong learning that never ends and offers unparalleled rewards. If there was one gift to give our children, it would be to put their feet on the path of the journey of self-discovery that we call Self Literacy.
Self Literacy is Power. Knowing yourself makes you better at everything. Literally. School, work, sports, friendships, life … everything!
For example, how do you learn best? Are you a language learner, a spatial learner, an experiential learner? Guided by this knowledge you can learn more efficiently, retain more information, and pursue the type of learning that suits you best. When are you at your best and most receptive to learning? Should you study first thing in the morning or late at night? When you understand how learning takes place and what methods your mind responds to best, doing well in school is not such a challenge.
What about sports? Imagine the advantage of knowing how your muscles work to propel you faster and farther, how your body converts food into energy to fuel this process, or how your body’s healing processes work to repair an injury. Yogi Berra said, “Baseball is 90 percent mental. The other half is physical.” Generalizing and deciphering the questionable math, the psychological is at least as important to sports performance as the physical. Top athletes report “being in the zone” when performing at their best. What is this state, and how can you achieve it? Knowing the answers and how they apply specifically to you can help you master any athletic endeavor.
Our personal relationships come into play here as well. Friendships are emotional bonds, and knowing how your mind works to produce emotions in you can help you understand your own behavior and that of your friends. What kind of friend are you? What kind of friend do you need? Do you value loyalty, honesty, empathy, fun, shared interests? Think about the friendships in your life, those that have lasted, those that haven’t, the ones where you wish you’d been a better friend, or had a better friend. Wouldn’t it be nice to know why?
Life is filled with choices. Most of the choices related to our bodies, health, wellness, emotions, identity, and relationships we make with surprisingly little understanding of what, why or how we are doing it. With a better foundational knowledge of our bodies, our minds, and how they work, we could undoubtedly make better decisions.
We all want a better life for our children. We want them to be happy and confident. Self Literacy – Knowing Themselves – gives them a solid foundation from which to make healthier choices, live without fear and achieve the happiness they deserve.
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