From Dale Carnegie, Napoleon Hill and Samuel Clement Stone to Zig Zigler, Tony Robbins, Jack Canfield, Deepak Chopra and Dr. Wayne Dyer, the message about how to live a life without excuses, doubts, fears and to its absolute fullest has been blasted loud and clear for all of us to hear for a very long time. The global hit movie The Secret, the onslaught of Personal Life Coaches, Wealth Building Warrior intensive weekend retreats and self-help books, videos, web-casts and live seminars generate around $ 15 billion per years in revenue, just in America alone.
What would our world look like today if we all knew this stuff when we were young?
If the $ 15 Billion American adults spend on person growth is not evidence enough that this message needs to be delivered to young people, perhaps a few statistics might make the message clearer.
o Clinical childhood depression diagnosis are at epidemic levels
o America has the highest high school drop out rate of any developed nation
o Most limiting beliefs and self-doubts develop prior to the age of six
o Pessimism is directly linked to clinical depression and anxiety and is highly heritable
o Pharmaceutical companies target pre-school for anti-depressants and mood stabilizing drugs
o Increases in severity and types bullying are on the rise
The WHO (World Health Organization) warns that depression will become the world's second biggest killer and cause of disability by the year 2020. It seems to me quite obvious that the $ 15 Billion spent each year in America on self-help and personal growth needs to be re-directed toward getting these messages to the young people of America, and clearly around the world for that matter.
Plenty of "how to" parenting information is available to teach us how we can model the behavior we want to see in our kids. But for the most part this too is self-help for the growing-up and requires the parent to confront and release their own limiting beliefs, doubts and social programming and develop habits that promote happiness and emotional well-being, before they can effectively use this information to help their kids.
I believe our future is dependent upon the happiness of our young people, for without them we have no future and we should feel obliged to help them find it. Our schools are devoid of character education and our children are missing a window of opportunity to instill the type of intelligence that has nothing to do with academics. Emotional Intelligence has been proven to be far more important to overall happiness and life satisfaction than analytical intelligence or IQ.
However, all the books of information, symbols and videos turn out to be ineffective when most of the information rarely or if ever gets acted upon. Lack of action is the largest issue most people have when it comes to using this information in changing their lives. To master anything in life requires more than just knowing what to do; it requires one to actually DO IT! and to recognize and acknowledge the effort put forth. When we experience the feeling of mastering anything, especially our happiness, we just want it more and more. We start to overlap challenges when we wholeheartedly know that our mistakes and failures are stepping stones to success and part of the learning and growing process.
Children are in the midst of absorbing information and developing beliefs about themselves and the big world around them and the life that lay ahead of them. When it comes to learning, children are at the pinnacle of their ability to learn and can absorb far more than I believe we give them credit for. Given the daily pursuit of a child is to experience happiness, and as parents we wish for them a life filled with happiness, giving them the opportunity to learn about and experience all the elements of happiness and to acknowledge unhappiness for what it provides them an an "emotional tool kit" for life. With a little help in the right direction our children can have an amazing pleasurable, meaningful and engaging life. We can and should give them the tools and teach them how to create for themselves a "good life."
Certainly the lack of a stable level of self-esteem is a major reason people find it difficult if not impossible to step outside of what is most comfortable, to face their fears head on and live life to its fullest and happiest. Many children succumb to low and unstable self-esteem every day in school and at home because they are not aware it is the expectations that they have of themselves, not the expectations their parents and teachers have of them, that set the stage for an amazing and fulfilling life.
A child needs to see and feel their effort pays off and be praised for those efforts rather than praised purely for their successes. Kids start to see how capable they are when they are praised for their effort and dedication, and then they can praise themselves too. They begin to feel good about who they are when they meet the expectations they have set for themselves. This is how a stable level self-esteem is achieved.
It's not about "Self-Help" for kids because only after we have grown and we find ourselves in need of help that we actually seek it. By providing our children with the information that we as adults find ourselves seeking, to the tune of $ 15 Billion per year, our kids will not need "Self-Help" because they will already have the information and turned it into wisdom. So much personal growth material purchased each year goes unused because as adults we have been negatively programmed for so long. Skepticism, pessimism, reinforced self-limiting beliefs, fears and doubts have become so deeply ingrained in our minds over the years that to change becomes more and more difficult.
We can protect our world's children from this same emotional fate by giving them the information and tools that have been studied and shared for thousands of years, and now validated by science. Your kids will likely "get it" faster than most of the grown-ups you know!