Three practical ways the Third Metric (well-being) can help kids grow through mindfulness and face challenges.
As a mum-preneur, I attempt to strike the balance to spend enough time running my business and raising my two kids, both to the best of my abilities. Sometimes I get it, sometimes not quite. Many parents, including myself, face the challenge of hectic days with the kids of today. Between school days and additional activities that nowadays kids take part of, it is relatively easy to fall in the mode of "doing" and forget the mode of "being."
Arianna Huffington's book, Thrive got in my hands a few months ago. Three things resonated strongly and I went on to apply them in my life, and to help my kids also with "being" and not only "doing." One of the main concepts in the book is the Third Metric, it's Well-being as the third element different from the two old-school measurements of success: money and power. This element can impacts leaders and organizations, but also individuals like you and me and our children; it opens up possibilities to fulfillment and happiness in a more sustainable way. I want this for my two sons, Leonardo (12) and Emilio (10).
What if children were to choose future careers and make future key choices based also on that third point? What would they chose to do and be? How much would then love their future profession and job? Would they be able to choose beyond money and power to include things like well-being, wisdom, wonder and giving back? They would expand the idea of success and re-define it for themselves.
As it turns out one of the first principles to be open for well-being is to practice mindfulness, the ability to be present in the "here and now." This is a challenge sometimes in today's busy world. So the three things that have helped us and are minor changes that we often practice are:
1. Breathing. I showed the basic "belly-breathing" technique to my children, a simple yoga principle. It helps them manage stress in school or prior to any experience that may cause anxiety. Any kind of deep breathing done well can help one achieve being here and now. Kids specially can benefit from this step to manage nerves, to enjoy experiences, to learn to wait (which is a gain a challenge in the current world of "now-ness"), to use all their senses. One of the biggest benefits is to listen to their inner own voices, their intuition and make choices with mind and heart. This skill can equip them to face challenging moments in life, and strive a balance in whatever they decide to do.
2. Response-ability and not only responsibility. Yes, taking responsibility for things and acts is key, yet often times the ability to respond to something and not to simply react is underestimated. Showing my kids that they can choose the response they have to events that happen is key. Awareness of choosing a response over another one and its impact is key. We do this in a playful way at home, sometimes through role-playing, stories or games, so that when they actually need it on the street, in school or with other people, they are better prepared and instead of reacting they can respond.
3. Empathy and giving back. I'm firmly convinced that if our leaders of today would exercise more empathy, many of the world's troubles would simply not exist. So why not start now? With our children, who can start exercises empathy and emotional intelligence in early stages? Here some simple ideas: When kids are asked "what if you were... " this often raises meaningful conversations and possibilities. Sometimes conversations can be simply fun: "What if you could be invisible and be anywhere, where would you choose to be?" It releases fantasy and possibilities. At times, the question is deeper, "What if you were a child in... (pick a country), or a girl in such situation or a president of that company, what would you do then, or try/say/do? What would life be like if you were that person." Ask why? Try it and be amazed by the kids' responses, eventually when they interact with someone in that situation or from that background, their minds are more open to see common ground, and not focus first in differences.
And mum? Yes, I started little though mindful changes. My nights used to last four to five hours, and they now last at least six and a half hours; it helps me be focused. This came after getting valuable insights in Thrive about the dangerous effect of sleep deprivation that we sometimes put ourselves in while pursuing success without a Third Metric. I noticed a dramatic positive change in productivity, mood and patience in my day. When I am with my children I practice "being present," noticing sometimes small things and acts. I'm taking the time and not only passing the time. After all, mindfulness, as a skill, can be learned and we can start today, here and now.