Raising Resilience- Happy Families and Thriving Children
I know, we just looked at Mindful Parenting in a Messy World by Michelle Gale. Here’s another spot-on and timely resource to help caring but overbusy parents foster healthy development and downright goodness in their children (and in themselves!).
In Raising Resilience: The Wisdom and Science of Happy Families and Thriving Children, psychologist Chris Willard blends his own extensive experience as a parent and as a clinician with ancient spiritual wisdom and current neuroscience to illuminate how we can create the conditions for children to thrive and become caring, compassionate adults.
From the introduction:
For example, generosity rewires the brain to release antidepressant neurotransmitters, and generosity is literally contagious – it positively affects people three degrees of separation away from the giver. Practicing ethical behavior helps children build strong attachments and promotes emotional and physical safety, as well as happiness. Renunciation (meaning fewer activities and less stuff) teaches kids how to compromise, concentrate, and creatively solve problems as those problems arise. Ancient practices for cultivating wisdom mirror what modern scientists recommend for healthy brain development, integrating all parts of the growing brain in order to be flexible and agile. When we encourage our kids’ independence and when we teach them to focus their energy on effort over outcome they grow up to be resilient in the face of life’s inevitable challenges.
Of course, we could all use more patience. Learning to delay gratification has been linked to improved executive function, happier relationships, and higher educational and vocational achievement into adulthood. Likewise, practicing honesty leads to more happiness and optimism – not to mention it keeps us out of trouble! The benefits of determinate and grit are particularly well known these days, and we can use the power of mindset to cultivate them. Kindness actually changes the shape and structure of the brain, boasting evidence of improved health, happiness, and thriving. Lastly, equanimity – the ability to take life’s inevitable challenges in stride – may itself be the very essence of thriving and resilience.
As Chris paraphrases our mutual friend Elisha Goldstein (author of Uncovering Happiness) “we can turn these values into verbs and live them.”