Archive for November, 2015

Annual Sports Events Ahead…..

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“5 Powerful Ways to Boost Your Confidence”

Self-confident people are admired by others and inspire confidence in others. They face their fears head-on and tend to be risk takers. They know that no matter what obstacles come their way, they have the ability to get past them. Self-confident people tend to see their lives in a positive light  even when things aren’t going so well, and they are typically satisfied with and respect themselves.

Wouldn’t it be amazing to have this kind of self-confidence, every day of the week? Guess what? You can.

“Low self-confidence isn’t a life sentence. Self-confidence can be learned, practiced, and mastered–just like any other skill. Once you master it, everything in your life will change for the better.” –Barrie Davenport

It comes down to one simple question: If you don’t believe in yourself, how do you expect anybody else to?

Try some of the tips listed below. Don’t just read them and put them on the back burner. Really begin to practice them daily, beginning today. You might have to fake it at first and merely appear to be self-confident, but eventually you will begin to feel the foundation of self-confidence grow within you. With some time and practice (this is not an overnight phenomenon), you too can be a self-confident person, both inside and out, whom others admire and say “Yes!” to.

1. Stay away from negativity and bring on the positivity

This is the time to really evaluate your inner circle, including friends and family. This is a tough one, but it’s time to seriously consider getting away from those individuals who put you down and shred your confidence. Even a temporary break from Debbie Downer can make a huge difference and help you make strides toward more self-confidence.

Be positive, even if you’re not feeling it quite yet. Put some positive enthusiasm into your interactions with others and hit the ground running, excited to begin your next project. Stop focusing on the problems in your life and instead begin to focus on solutions and making positive changes.

2. Change your body language and image

This is where posture, smiling, eye contact and speech slowly come into play. Just the simple act of pulling your shoulders back gives others the impression that you are a confident person. Smiling will not only make you feel better, but will make others feel more comfortable around you. Imagine a person with good posture and a smile and you’ll be envisioning someone who is self-confident.

Look at the person you are speaking to, not at your shoes–keeping eye contact shows confidence. Last, speak slowly. Research has proved that those who take the time to speak slowly and clearly feel more self-confidence and appear more self-confident to others. The added bonus is they will actually be able to understand what you are saying.

Go the extra mile and style your hair, give yourself a clean shave, and dress nicely. Not only will this make you feel better about yourself, but others are more likely to perceive you as successful and self-confident as well. A great tip: When you purchase a new outfit, practice wearing it at home first to get past any wardrobe malfunctions before heading out.

3. Don’t accept failure and get rid of the negative voices in your head

Never give up. Never accept failure. There is a solution to everything, so why would you want to throw in the towel? Succeeding through great adversity is a huge confidence booster. Low self-confidence is often caused by the negative thoughts running through our minds on an endless track. If you are constantly bashing yourself and saying you’re not good enough, aren’t attractive enough, aren’t smart enough or athletic enough, and on and on, you are creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. You are becoming what you are preaching inside your head, and that’s not good. The next time you hear that negativity in your head, switch it immediately to a positive affirmation and keep it up until it hits the caliber of a self-confidence boost.

4. Be prepared

Learn everything there is to know about your field, job, presentation–whatever is next on your “to conquer” list. If you are prepared, and have the knowledge to back it up, your self-confidence will soar.

5. For tough times, when all else fails: Create a great list

Life is full of challenges and there are times when it’s difficult to keep our self-confidence up. Sit down right now and make a list of all the things in your life that you are thankful for, and another list of all the things you are proud of accomplishing Once your lists are complete, post them on your refrigerator door, on the wall by your desk, on your bathroom mirror–somewhere where you can easily be reminded of what an amazing life you have and what an amazing person you really are. If you feel your self-confidence dwindling, take a look at those lists and let yourself feel and be inspired all over again by you.

Is Homework Outdated in Today’s Educational System?

Gone are the days when school children across America had to trudge through several inches of snow to make their way to one-room school-houses.  Likewise, fallen by the wayside is the use of the three R’s as the primary curriculum for this nation’s schools.  A rap across the hand with a ruler is no longer used as a method of classroom discipline. Many of the traditions and standards of education have become antiquated and outdated. Perhaps the next casualty of societal change should be the widespread use of homework as a learning tool for today’s children.

            Education and society as a whole have grown increasingly more complex. Society bears little resemblance to what it was just a few short years ago. Children today face an entirely different school day than that of their parents and grandparents and the children of decades ago. National and state standards require a much more rigorous program of study for today’s student. As a result, the curriculum is greatly expanded with many concepts being introduced at a much earlier grade level. In order to accommodate the expanded curriculum and mandated standards of accountability there has been a major decrease in the amount of recess, play and non-structured time for the average school-child. 

The average student now participates in a variety of after-school activities. Football, basketball, choir, band, and cheer have been joined by soccer, dance, volleyball, softball, baseball, golf, quiz bowl, cross-country, academic decathlon, and a variety of other activities that place tremendous demands on the student’s time. Activities not related to school but also demands student time include little league baseball, softball, football, and basketball as well as dance, cheer, motorcross, and church activities. Factor in students who also work part time and you have a group of children who usually have their evenings filled with extracurricular activities. In today’s society we have students who spend their day in school and their evenings occupied with extra-curricular activities. Often the student doesn’t even arrive at home until nine or ten o’clock in the evening.

The student that arrives home late after a long day at school, followed by an evening spent in an extra-curricular activity is faced with few options in regards to homework. He/she could spend a considerable amount of time completing the homework assignments and end up going to bed exhausted in the early morning hours.  The end result is an exhausted student who is not likely to be in the best condition for learning in class. The child may or may not do the assignment or at best only give a half-hearted effort to do the work. This student would likely suffer the consequences in the form of a lower grade or in some cases, punishment in the form of detention, added assignments, or other similar negative consequences.

Even very young children are not immune from the effects of homework. It is not uncommon for first and second grade students to have a large amount of homework. The drive for accountability has created a school environment that places a premium on instructional time. Recess has been gradually eroded to the point the average elementary child has only ten to fifteen minutes of unstructured play time per day. In many school districts recess has been eliminated altogether.  Add a large homework assignment each evening and it raises a significant question; when do kids get the chance to be kids?

Another significant question is what do kids do when they reach a point that they don’t understand how to do an assignment? Politicians, school administrators, and teachers say that parents need to get involved and help the child. That answer assumes the parent knows how to do the math problems, algebra, etc. How many parents have worked through a math problem with their child, found the right answer only to have the problem counted wrong because it was not worked in the process the teacher and the text required?   Parents may not have been exposed to certain scientific principles or even have a background in how to diagram a sentence, among other current classroom skills. Too often, parents helping their child results in a process where they are using information and skills they learned over a quarter of a century ago.

An example of how homework has lost it’s usefulness in today’s schools is a recent orientation at a junior high school during the first week of school. The Principal, who had more than twenty years of experience, was beginning his first year as Principal of that particular school. He spoke to an over-flow crowd of parents and children who had filled the gymnasium to hear what the new Principal had to say.  He spoke of the high goals he had set for the school and was greeted with applause for his ideas. He then spoke of homework as a great learning tool and said that his teachers had been instructed to make sure every child in the school had two to three hours of homework every night since this was an outstanding way to build character. There was no applause on this point, only loud murmurs of disbelief and anger. This illustrates the clash of an outdated approach coming face-to-face with the reality of today’s life style.

Other options should be available to allow the students to rehearse their skills rather than continuing on with this dinosaur of the past. Since the great majority of the school day is now devoted to instructional activities this is where the great majority of rehearsal activities should take place. Having this work done at school rather than at home provides a great many benefits.  First, it allows the child who has spent the entire day engaged in academics to have time to be a kid, to explore other interests such as extracurricular activities, interests and hobbies which have an educational effect in that it broadens the child’s horizons. Another benefit of having the homework done in class is that it allows the teacher to be the person that shows the child how to solve the math problem, or discuss the real meaning of the history or literature question. This allows the person trained to teach these concepts to do the actual teaching; not a parent who may not know the exact process the teacher is looking for. Additionally, this approach should greatly reduce the stress the child suffers from spending the great majority of their time after school on homework. If the child goes to school more rested and relaxed the next day the more likely he/she will be able to grasp the concepts being taught much more quickly.

Without a doubt, it is time to rescue today’s children from yesterday’s educational practices.  Let’s take schoolwork from the home and put it back into the school so that trained professionals can fine tune these skills in an educational setting.  Let’s give the students in today’s schools the opportunity to be children. It’s time to put homework to rest with the other educational dinosaurs of the past.

“A Happy Life May Not Be a Meaningful Life”

“Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose.” For most people, feeling happy and finding life meaningful are both important and related goals. But do happiness and meaning always go together? It seems unlikely, given that many of the things that we regularly choose to do – from running marathons to raising children – are unlikely to increase our day-to-day happiness. Recent research suggests that while happiness and a sense of meaning often overlap, they also diverge in important and surprising ways.

Roy Baumeister and his colleagues recently published a study in the Journal of Positive Psychology that helps explain some of the key differences between a happy life and a meaningful one. They asked almost 400 American adults to fill out three surveys over a period of weeks. The surveys asked people to answer a series of questions their happiness levels, the degree to which they saw their lives as meaningful, and their general lifestyle and circumstances.

As one might expect, people’s happiness levels were positively correlated with whether they saw their lives as meaningful. However, the two measures were not identical – suggesting that what makes us happy may not always bring more meaning, and vice versa. To probe for differences between the two, the researchers examined the survey items that asked detailed questions about people’s feelings and moods, their relationships with others, and their day-to-day activities. Feeling happy was strongly correlated with seeing life as easy, pleasant, and free from difficult or troubling events. Happiness was also correlated with being in good health and generally feeling well most of the time. However, none of these things were correlated with a greater sense of meaning. Feeling good most of the time might help us feel happier, but it doesn’t necessarily bring a sense of purpose to our lives.

Interestingly, their findings suggest that money, contrary to popular sayings, can indeed buy happiness. Having enough money to buy what one needs in life, as well as what one desires, were also positively correlated with greater levels of happiness. However, having enough money seemed to make little difference in life’s sense of meaning. This same disconnect was recently found in a multi-national studyconducted by Shigehiro Oishi and Ed Diener, who show that people from wealthy countries tend to be happier, however, they don’t see their lives as more meaningful. In fact, Oishi and Diener found that people from poorer countries tend to see their lives as more meaningful. Although the reasons are not totally clear, this might be related to greater religious belief, having more children, and stronger social ties among those living in poorer countries. Perhaps instead of saying that “money doesn’t buy happiness,” we ought to say instead that “money doesn’t buy meaning.”Not too surprisingly, our relationships with other people are related to both how happy we are as well as how meaningful we see our lives.  Feeling more connected to others improved both happiness and meaning. However, the role we adopt in our relationships makes an important difference. Participants in the study who were more likely to agree with the statement, “I am a giver,” reported less happiness than people who were more likely to agree with, “I am a taker.” However, the “givers” reported higher levels of meaning in their lives compared to the “takers.” In addition, spending more time with friends was related to greater happiness but not more meaning. In contrast, spending more time with people one loves was correlated with greater meaning but not with more happiness. The researchers suspect that spending time with loved ones is often more difficult, but ultimately more satisfying, than spending time with friends.

When it comes to thinking about how to be happier, many of us fantasize about taking more vacations or finding ways to avoid mundane tasks. We may dream about skipping housework and instead doing something fun and pleasurable. However, tasks which don’t make us happy can, over time, add up to a meaningful life. Even routine activities — talking on the phone, cooking, cleaning, housework, meditating, emailing, praying, waiting on others, and balancing finances — appeared to bring more meaning to people’s lives, but not happiness in the moment. 

More broadly, the findings suggest that pure happiness is about getting what we want in life—whether through people, money, or life circumstances. Meaningfulness, in contrast, seems to have more to do with giving, effort, and sacrifice. It is clear that a highly meaningful life may not always include a great deal of day-to-day happiness. And, the study suggests, our American obsession with happiness may be intimately related to a feeling of emptiness, or a life that lacks meaning.