THE BLOG
11/20/2013 02:44 pm ET Updated Jan 25, 2014

Kids Know Better

Invariably, when I talk to adults about the crux of my work -- that our feelings can only be generated from inside of us, from our thinking -- they want to know how to improve their thoughts. What's interesting though, is that when I talk to kids about my work, they seldom ask the same question. It's as if adults need to be taught that their experiences are shaped from the inside out, while young people simply need to be reminded of it.

Still, the question gets asked, so here's my response. As people who suffer begin to appreciate the link between their thinking and feelings, and that there's no real link between their circumstances and feelings, the mind's accumulation of stale (habitual) thinking begins to falls away on its own -- to be replaced with new thought or insight. They then feel better and better and behave more productively.

The reason that this principle doesn't require much explanation for young people is that, intuitively, everyone knows that moods are the byproduct of the random amount of thinking a person has in his or her head (bound-up head = bad mood; clear head = good mood). And while kids get upset, too, they're closer to this truth than you and me. To illustrate, if you're a parent, have you ever tried to reason your child through a funk (seemingly about something) only to be blown off completely? That's because your kid knows better. Talking about, coping with, or putting a positive spin on an external circumstance requires additional thinking, which leads to more grief, not less.

Remember, the only way to improve your feeling state is to understand what creates it. Unhappiness can only be experienced and maintained when your head is filled with thought. And if you habitually look outside for excuses and fixes for how you feel on the inside, your head won't clear.

Here's why small children don't often wallow in insecurity, hold grudges against others or overthink. They haven't been wrongly trained yet that their upsets come from something or someone else. So they haven't formed an imaginary connection between their feelings and the world outside. Again, due to thought, all kids become temperamental from time to time. But not for long. Continually, they self-correct to clarity and then love, instead.