Teaching Empathy

In an article entitled “In Denmark, Empathy is Taught As a School Subject That Kids Must Learn From a Very Young Age” and featured on Thinking Minds, we read about the Danish belief that teaching empathy to children in school is just as important a life lesson as math or science.

From the article:

  • In 1993, empathy classes became mandatory; children aged 6 to 16 are taught how to cultivate kindness in themselves.
  • The children during the empathy classes are asked to share any problems or issues they are going through. The entire class pitches in to help find a solution. Kids grow up to become confident, emotionally intelligent adults, who will know not to judge people for their struggles.
  • One such program is called the CAT-kit. In this program, the aim is to improve emotional awareness and empathy by focusing on how to articulate experiences, thoughts, feelings, and senses. There are picture cards of faces, measuring sticks to gauge the intensity of emotions, and pictures of the body, included in the CAT-kit so kids can understand the emotions being exhibited while also learning to conceptualize their own and others’ feelings. In the classroom setting, along with the facilitator, the children are taught not to be judgmental but acknowledge and respect these sentiments.

What a lovely and proactive approach to cultivating emotional intelligence in children. With Denmark ranking high in the UN’s World Happiness Report, it would seem we have much to learn about how valuable it proves to be when we focus on empathy skills and understanding in our littles.

To read the full article: https://edu.thinking-minds.net/schools-in-denmark-conduct-empathy-classes-as-part-of-the-school-curriculum-from-a-very-young-age

To visit the Thinking Minds website (which has lots of interesting articles): https://edu.thinking-minds.net/

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You Are the Medicine

I love this passage from Maria Sabina, a Mexican healer and poet:

Heal yourself with the light of the sun and the rays of the moon.

With the sound of the river and the waterfall. 

With the swaying of the sea and the fluttering of birds.

Heal yourself with mint, neem and eucalyptus.

Sweeten with lavender, rosemary and chamomile.

Hug yourself with the cocoa bean and a hint of cinnamon.

Put love in tea instead of sugar and drink it looking at the stars.

Heal yourself with the kisses that the wind gives you and the hugs of the rain.

Stand strong with your bare feet on the ground and with everything that comes from it.

Be smarter every day by listening to your intuition, looking at the world with your forehead.

Jump, dance, sing, so that you live happier.

Heal yourself, with beautiful love, and always remember – 

you are the medicine.

– Maria Sabina

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Photo credit: https://unsplash.com/@aaronburden

10 Rules of Ikigai

Yesterday’s post defined the Japanese concept of Ikigai, which means ‘reason for being.’ In today’s post, we explore 10 Rules of Ikigai brought to us by authors Héctor García and Francesc Miralles in their book entitled “IKIGAI: The Japanese Secret To a Long and Happy Life.”

  1. Stay active; don’t retire. This is about finding value is our lives outside of when our professional lives end. It is about the activities we choose that allow us to bring purpose into our lives.
  2. Take it slow. We feel more grounded when we have the sense of urgency under control.
  3. Don’t fill your stomach. “Less is more when it comes to eating for long life, too. According to the 80 percent rule, in order to stay healthier longer, we should eat a little less than our hunger demands instead of stuffing ourselves.”
  4. Surround yourself with good friends. Ikigai is found in interpersonal relationships; when we devote time to our friendships, it brings value to our lives.
  5. Get in shape for your next birthday. “Water moves; it is at its best when it flows fresh and doesn’t stagnate. The body you move through in life needs a bit of daily maintenance to keep it running for a long time.”
  6. Smile. When we smile we remind ourselves of our blessings.
  7. Reconnect with nature. Being in nature brings us peace; it helps us to feel settled and feeds our soul.
  8. Give thanks. Spending time each day to be grateful allows us recognize the good things that surround us.
  9. Live in the moment. When we are mindful of the here and now, we tend to be less anxious about the future as well as less focused on what happened yesterday.
  10. Follow your Ikigai. The small things we seek, as well as our big picture goals will help us to follow our reason for being.

The 10 Rules of Ikigai is a reminder that we can create lifelong habits that create a value system filled with meaning and purpose.

Information for this post was found at https://ikigaitribe.com/ikigai/the-10-rules-of-ikigai/

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What is Ikigai?

Ikigai is a Japanese concept that means ‘reason for being.’ It combines the Japanese words ‘iki’ which means life, and ‘gai’ which means value or worth. 

In an article entitled “Ikigai Explained by a Neuroscientist” and featured on IkigaiTribe, we meet Ken Mogi. He explains that in Japanese culture, there is a belief that the world is made of many small things which are valuable in themselves. Ikigai is the pursuit of day to day purpose and happiness:

“There are many ways to define Ikigai. One way put it is to say that Ikigai is the reason you get up in the morning. It could be something very small like having a cup of coffee and a chocolate. And something that makes your day go on. That is Ikigai. On the other hand – Ikigai can be a life-defining, very big goal, like going to Mars or winning the Nobel Prize or becoming the Prime Minister of a country. So Ikigai can be something small or something big. So in a nutshell, Ikigai is a spectrum. And the complexity of Ikigai actually reflects the complexity of life itself.”

When we are in the process of self-reflection and growth, the concept of a spectrum is very valuable to our journey as it allows us to recognize both the small things that bring value to our lives as well as our big picture goals. The concept of Ikigai is about becoming the most honest version of ourselves.

Tomorrow’s post will feature “The 10 Rules of Ikigai” by  Héctor García and Francesc Miralles.

To read the full article (it features a you tube video): https://ikigaitribe.com/ikigai/ikigai-explained-by-a-neuroscientist/

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Photo credit: http://Photo by Chris Lawton on Unsplash

 

What Hawaiians Can Teach Us About Life

In Hawaiian culture, the Native people have often relied on specific concepts that, when followed and appreciated, lead them to lives of contentment.  The concepts include:

  • Mana: is the spiritual energy of power and strength that both people and objects possess. It is a life energy that people can influence; the choices made can either strengthen mana or take it away. Living a life of meaning, being modest, building and maintaining relationships and giving back to others or your community are all examples of good mana.
  • Pono: is righteousness. In Hawaiian culture, it denotes goodness and has a spiritual connotation to being in a state of harmony. Pono is the concept of leaning into moral values so as to live a life that is balanced and essentially good.
  • Aloha: is the Hawaiian word for love. Often used as a simple greeting, aloha for Hawaiians is a way of life – aloha is a way of living and treating each other with love and respect.
  • Ohana: means family. In Hawaiian culture, the concept of ohana refers to one’s social support system, including nuclear family, extended family, close friends and colleagues, and/or other communities or groups they are a part of. Being part of an ohana means that there is a mutual obligation to care for each other.

Hawaiians are known to live a life that is peaceful and less stressful than Westernized society. We can take a lesson from their pages of ancient wisdom by consciously thinking about how these concepts have contributed to living a simple and grounded life.

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Some Hopeful News Ahead about Youth and Mental Health

In a recent article entitled “Lanark first in Canada to adopt Icelandic model for reducing teen social harm” by Elizabeth Payne and featured in the Ottawa Citizen, we read about a group in Lanark called Planet Youth Lanark who have signed a five year agreement with the Icelandic Centre for Social Research and Analysis. The article features some interesting facts about Iceland’s program to reduce substance abuse among their youth:

  • after the induction of the program in the 90’s, Iceland’s substance abuse among youth fell from 48% to 5%.
  • Iceland’s program is a primary prevention program that is based on data from the student’s themselves.
  • Surveys given to youth include alcohol and cannabis use as well as issues such as vaping, screen time, body image and mental well-being.
  • Iceland’s program includes proactive measures designed to create environments that promote healthy growth and development and include such things as increased parental involvement, curfews, and the introduction of numerous activities, including sports and music.

Data from the surveys conducted in Lanark and Smith Falls, will then be studied by Icelandic officials with subsequent reports that will highlight how the communities can develop proactive strategies.

What an encouraging news story! As we continue to worry about the rising rates of anxiety and depression in our youth population, this program has the potential to grow in numbers across our province and nation.

To read the full article: https://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/a-good-news-story-lanark-becomes-first-in-canada-to-adopt-icelandic-model-for-reducing-teen-social-harm

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The Meaning of Ubuntu

I came across this lovely South African tradition:

“In certain regions of South Africa, when someone does something wrong, he/she is taken to the center of the village and for two days he/she is surrounded by his tribe, while they speak of all the good he/she has done. They believe that each person is good yet sometimes we make mistakes, which is really a cry for help. They unite in this ritual to encourage the person to reconnect with his true nature. The belief is that unity and affirmation have more power to change behavior than does shame and punishment. This is known as Ubuntu – humanity towards others.”

What I love about this ceremony are the following words: reconnect, unity and affirmation. We are a relationship species and our deepest level of feeling safe comes from being accepted by others. What a lovely tradition, focusing on the importance of social unity and generosity of spirit. In many ways we can incorporate this philosophy in our own relationships, focusing on the inherent good of a person so as to incline them towards their own inner spirit.

Photo credit: http://Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

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Seven Sacred Teachings; Truth – Post 7

In our last of a series of posts celebrating the Seven Grandfather Teachings of First Nations People, we add Truth to the core values of wisdom, love, respect, bravery, honesty and humility:

Truth: is to know all of these things. It is said that in the beginning, when the Creator made man and gave him the seven sacred laws, the Grandmother Turtle was present to ensure that the laws would never be lost or forgotten. On the back of a Turtle are the 13 moons, each representing the truth of one cycle of the Earth’s rotations around the sun. The 28 markings on her back represent the cycle of the moon and of a woman’s body. The shell of the Turtle represents the body real events as created by the Higher Power, and serves as a reminder of the Creator’s will and teachings.”

The first step towards healing is to speak your truth. In order to achieve growth and movement, we must be first able to acknowledge what is holding us back. It is only then that we open up the avenue to understand how our patterns or core beliefs have affected our relationships, influenced our actions, or hindered our ability to be emotionally healthy. Being able to incorporate the seven sacred teachings into our lives even in small ways can greatly influence our capacity to feel whole; moving towards a feeling of peace in who we are and how we treat both ourselves and our loved ones.

Thank you for joining me on this series; I hope you enjoyed it!

Information for this post was found at: http://empoweringthespirit.ca/teachings/the-turtle/

Photo credit: http://Photo by Randall Ruiz on Unsplash

 

 

Seven Sacred Teachings: Humility – Post 6

Today we add humility to our Seven Sacred Teachings of the First Nations People:

Humility: Humility is to know yourself as a sacred part of the Creation. Symbolized by the wolf, humility is about being humble and not arrogant. The expression of this humility is manifested through the consideration of others before ourselves. In this way, the Wolf became the teacher of this lesson. He bows his head in the presence of others out of deference, and once hunted, will not take of the food until it can be shared with the pack. His lack of arrogance and respect for his community is a hard lesson, but integral in the Aboriginal way.”

Humility is a core value that we can often struggle with as it tends to lend itself to the idea of submission or being meek. I suppose where true humility comes into play is to know when to defer; if you don’t know something, you are much better served to say so than to pretend as though you do. It is about not allowing your pride to get in the way of true growth, working towards inclusiveness versus self-importance, it is to know the strength of power and to use it wisely. To know true humility is to know peace.

Information for this post was found at: http://empoweringthespirit.ca/teachings/596/

Photo credit: http://Photo by Michael LaRosa on Unsplash

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Seven Sacred Teachings; Honesty – Post 5

The fifth core value that the First Nations People speak about in the Seven Grandfather Teachings is Honesty:

Honesty: Honesty also means “righteousness”, be honest first with yourself – in word and action. Long ago, there was a giant called Kitch-Sabe. Kitch-Sabe walked among the people to remind them to be honest to the laws of the creator and honest to each other. The highest honor that could be bestowed upon an individual was the saying “There walks an honest man. He can be trusted.” To be truly honest was to keep the promises one made to the Creator, to others and to oneself. The Elders would say, “Never try to be someone else; live true to your spirit, be honest to yourself and accept who you are the way the Creator made you.”

How lovely is that? To live in such a way that it would capture the attention of a giant. Being honest with ourselves is not always an easy task; when we are rigid in our beliefs, sometimes honesty gets set aside for needing to be right. To aspire to honesty is to value sincerity and trustworthiness. It is about striving to be authentic, not only in word but in action; it is to be ourselves.

Information from this post came from: http://empoweringthespirit.ca/teachings/sabe/

Photo credit: http://Photo by Sakkarin Kaewsukho on Unsplash

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