I see a new professional track developing for me. Although I have only taught lessons on positive thinking a dozen times, I can imagine teaching these lessons a hundred more. Kids of all ages were as surprised as I was to learn that 95% of the 50-60,000 thoughts humans have each day were exactly the same as the day before and that 80% of those thoughts are negative. This is why it is so hard for children to flourish and thrive. It might also be why we have been told that we only use 5% of our brain.
Perhaps the truest thing that the Buddha ever said was, “You are what you think. With our thoughts we make the world. ” I start the lesson with this quote and make all the students write it down. I want them to memorize this idea, so that when they start circling around the same old thoughts that sound true, they will recognize them for what they are. I offer them the wrist band tool of switching the band from one wrist to the other with every negative thought, and I share that it took me 82 days of switching the band to stop my own negative thinking.
Training your mind away from negativity is easier than you might expect. When you notice your own negative thinking, you begin to create the space for positive thoughts to enter. Kids are often surprised to realize that positivity is not necessarily joyful or happy. Leaning away from the negative has a wide continuum. Just letting oneself wonder or be curious about what is happening is a positive way of thinking.
It is easy to confuse wonder with worry. One student asked, “What is positive about wondering what I got on a test?” Worrying is where wonder is suffocated with judgment and doubt. Anxiety has many faces. I remind them about the things they wondered about as smaller children.
After they are sparked by the positivity challenge, I share the importance of paying attention to your thinking as the first fundamental step in correcting it and that learning a few basic meditation techniques is critical in controlling 60, 000 thoughts per day. Meditation is how I learned to rest my thinking brain and guide them through a meditation that has always worked for me.
I smile to myself as I count back from 10 and watch them fall into their bodies with each breath. The room is quiet enough to hear the breathing of the children. I walk them through an internal vessel with a sticky, warm, golden light filled column of honey. This is a good way to envision what love feels like. Soon, the bell rings and the children leave with two potentially life changing tools.