Gratitude Can Transform Your Life

Gratitude
Gratitude

 William Arthur Ward‘s words of wisdom remind us how gratitude can transform your life.

“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” – William Arthur Ward

10 Questions That Lead to a Thankful Attitude by Adam Gragg

  1. What is a unique skill or talent I have?
  2. Who is a person in my life I’m blessed to know and why?
  3. What is a life experience (good or bad) that has made me a better person?
  4. What am I probably taking for granted?
  5. What’s a modern convenience I’m thankful for?
  6. Something positive about my home environment is _______________ .
  7. What is one thing someone has done for me that has improved my life?
  8. Who can I thank today and why?
  9. What is an opportunity, big or small, that I have ahead of me?
  10. Something I have learned recently that has made my life better is _______________ .

Pick one of these questions each week to focus on and transform your life with gratitude.

Benefits of Gratitute

Feeling more satisfied at school

Less stress and anxiety

More resilience

Build stronger relationships

Less materialism

Fewer symptoms of depression

Happier with life in general


mel professional photo by kateMelanie Black is an Associate Certified Academic Life Coach and mindfulness educator. She is passionate about helping others and learning all she can in the process. With ten years of experience in the field of education, she is determined to help students succeed in school and life. “ One of my goals is to continue to be a humanitarian who helps our local community. I am passionate about my relentless pursuit of knowledge and desire to help others.“

Using the 5 Dimensions of Learning to Achieve Your Goals

 

photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/83633410@N07/

photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/83633410@N07/

Everyone learns differently. In schools everyone is taught the same way, so most people think that the ways they learned in school are the only ways to learn! Actually, there are many, many different ways a person can learn. For example, some people need to move in order to learn and others need to doodle. When a student is able to understand how they learn best they can be successful in middle school, high school, college, and beyond. At Student Futures I help students analyze the 5 dimensions of learning and how they can use each to achieve their goals. The student completes a small online assessment, which we use to look at how they can use their strengths to their advantage and how they can improve their weaknesses.

5 dimensions of learning

POWER TRAITS

The ways you learn and work best make up your Power Traits for Life! There are 5 Power Traits or dispositions: Performing, Producing, Inventing, Relating/ Inspiring, and Thinking/ Creating. Most people have a Primary and a Secondary Disposition —their two highest scores. However, since everyone is different, the combination of scores is different for everyone. Your power traits can be used to help you: learn, study, memorize, communicate, organize, manage your time, get clearer about your interests, passions, and career possibilities. There is no “right” or “wrong” way to score. There are no scores that are “better” or “worse” than someone else’s scores. Whatever your scores are, they are your scores; they are a picture of you! Knowing your Disposition will help you understand what your overall learning and working strengths are so that you can choose materials and activities that will help you achieve your goals.

MODALITY

Your Modality strengths determine how you best process incoming information whether it be visually, Listening, or hands on. Reading, watching movies, sketching, writing, listening, doing something are examples of how we process information. It is very important to get to know your Modality strengths so you can learn how to use them to your best advantage, you will find that learning new information, memorizing, and even doing assignments will become so much easier. You will learn more, better, and faster, because you will be using materials and techniques that work for you!

ENVIRONMENT

Third dimension is your Environment which is everything that surrounds you and can affect your learning and working time positively or negatively. Some people are more affected by certain aspects of the environment than other people. For example, some people have a really hard time concentrating when it is cold, others have trouble when it is hot, and others are not bothered at all by the temperature. Some people can work in their room on the floor and others feel more comfortable at a desk. Some people like to work with music and some can’t concentrate.

INTERESTS

Your Interests, the fourth dimension of learning, are your greatest motivators! What do you love? You do your best learning when you are interested in and excited about what you are learning. The more you can integrate your interests and passions into your schoolwork, the better you will do!

TALENTS

The last dimension is Your Talents, which are the natural abilities that you were born with. Often, a person’s Talents point to career opportunities. However, you might not be interested in pursuing a Talent as a career. On the other hand, you might have a Talent that you would love to pursue, but people have discouraged you. Whether you are interested in pursuing a Talent or not, you can learn to put it to good use, to make your learning and working easier and more efficient.

Want to take the assessment and learn more about how you learn and can achieve your goals? Send me an email at hello@studentfutures.org

mel professional photo by kateMelanie Black is an Associate Certified Academic Life Coach and mindfulness educator. She is passionate about helping others and learning all she can in the process. With ten years of experience in the field of education, she is determined to help students succeed in school and life. “ One of my goals is to continue to be a humanitarian who helps our local community. I am passionate about my relentless pursuit of knowledge and desire to help others.“

 

 

 

What would you change?

Magic Halloween Sunset Bounce Magic Wand Witch

If you had a magic wand and could change one thing in your life what would it be and why?

There’s always something we want, something we would want to be different in our lives.

I love the magic wand question because it allows for infinite possibilities.

Think about your values. Think about your goals. Think about your senses. What would you like to see, feel, hear, touch? Let your imagination fly.

If you had a magic wand, what life would you create for yourself? What would you do in the next month, 3 months, 6 months, 1 year, 5 years and then 10 years? There’s no limit! Think freely.

Be brave in your thinking and find solutions to what holds you back.

mel professional photo by kateMelanie Black is an Associate Certified Academic Life Coach and mindfulness educator. She is passionate about helping others and learning all she can in the process. With ten years of experience in the field of education, she is determined to help students succeed in school and life. “ One of my goals is to continue to be a humanitarian who helps our local community. I am passionate about my relentless pursuit of knowledge and desire to help others.“

 

Words of Wisdom: Walt Disney

Disney words of wisdom

Disney words of wisdom

Worry means to feel or experience concern or anxiety. Students tend to worry a lot about their grades, appearance, and much more. Parents worry about their children, job, finances, and other things. Too much worry, anxiety, or stress can affect the way you feel and live your life. Have you ever been so worried about how you will do on an exam that you can’t remember all that you have studied and end up not getting the grade you wanted? Don’t worry. Be happy!

Keep things in perspective.

Most things we worry about already happened or are temporary. Most things are solvable. Ask yourself, “How can I solve this problem?” “What can I do about this?” 

Focus on the positive.

Ask yourself: “What did I learn from this?” 

What if?

 Suppose, just for a moment, you live in a world where fear and anxiety do not exist. What could you do now?

mel professional photo by kateMelanie Black is an Associate Certified Academic Life Coach and mindfulness educator. She is passionate about helping others and learning all she can in the process. With ten years of experience in the field of education, she is determined to help students succeed in school and life. “ One of my goals is to continue to be a humanitarian who helps our local community. I am passionate about my relentless pursuit of knowledge and desire to help others.“

Mindfulness Intro For Students

Mindfulness has been scientifically proven to help middle and high school students as well as college students conquer stress and anxiety, and reach their academic and future goals. In this introductory video learn the benefits of mindfulness for students and participate in a short exercise that can be used in the future. I will tell you my two favorite FREE mindfulness apps too!

Don’t have time to check out the video? No worries. Here’s the gist of it.

Mindfulness involves using all your senses, thoughts, bodily sensations, and emotions to be present in the moment. With mindfulness we have the opportunity to learn how to respond to our emotions rather than react. Mindfulness has proven to have many benefits, especially, for students. Using mindfulness can help you meet your academic and future goals. While some students are making excellent grades, they may be experiencing a lot of stress with trying to keep up with the workload or staying organized. Mindfulness can help them manage their emotional well being, thus also positively affecting their physical health. Students who have practiced mindfulness have experienced better self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making.

For mindfulness to work, we have to really try it. And in the beginning, it might seem weird or pointless. But, keep in mind that this is new and different and with practice this will be beneficial to you. If we don’t try it, we can’t determine if it is useful for ourselves or not. So, let’s list some ways that you might find mindfulness to be useful and relevant in your own life.

Raise your hand if you have ever:

  • said something you wish you could take back?
  • done something that you later regretted?
  • felt angry and out of control?
  • felt nervous or anxious about an exam or performance?
  • been in a bad mood but not sure why?
  • been in a bad mood but not even sure what emotion it is?
  • felt like you need a break and want everyone to just leave you alone?
  • had trouble falling asleep because your mind won’t be quiet or your body feels restless?
  • been accidentally spacing out in class when the teacher calls on you?
  • noticed that you do much better at sports or music when you are really focused?

Our emotions are continually changing. Difficult emotions like anger, fear, worry, and stress actually release chemicals in our brain that prevent us from learning, and can make us react and say and do things we didn’t want to. Mindfulness stops these chemicals.

So how can you incorporate mindfulness into your schoolwork? Ready to give it a try?

There are some things to know before we start. So, in practice there is a leap from the big picture we just discussed to very simple techniques. We will be mindful of sound, breath, movement, thoughts, emotions, and other things. We will be paying attention on purpose for a short period of time.

Every time we practice mindfulness, we start by getting in a mindful posture. A mindful posture has five guidelines:

  1. Facing forward
  2. Back is upright
  3. Put your hands on your lap or beside you.
  4. Be still
  5. Be Quiet
  6. Mind and body are relaxed yet alert
  7. Letting your eyes close

Ok. Now that you are in a comfortable seated position let’s begin.

  • Start by taking one breath in through the nose and out through the mouth.
  • Now, close your eyes and take one deep breath.
  • Now take three breaths, but just normal breaths, don’t deliberately change it.
  • Now, take three breaths, this time noticing what you are feeling, hearing, touching, tasting, seeing (in your mind).
  • If you feel any kind of stress take a deep breath.
  • Picture this in your mind:

You are getting ready to take a test and feel relaxed because you are well prepared and know the material. You pick up your pencil and with a positive attitude you write your name at the top of the paper. You read and understand the directions. You work through the test easily completing each question. You answer the last question and have enough time to check your answers. You hand in your test and are confident that you will get the grade you want. Imagine rewarding yourself for your hard work and feeling satisfied with your success.

The goal with this exercise is for you to feel confident and relaxed to start studying or take a test. It is an easy and great exercise to do before a test or beginning a study session. If at any time you lose focus during this exercise just take a deep breath and re-focus.

I hope you continue to try mindfulness and that you find it helps you. My favorite FREE apps are Insight Timer and Breathe. Breathe is a great introduction to mindfulness and Insight Timer is a great app for finding guided meditations. You can search by topic and/ or length. Namaste.

mel professional photo by kateMelanie Black is an Associate Certified Academic Life Coach and mindfulness educator who trained with Mindful Schools. She is passionate about helping others and learning all she can in the process. With ten years of experience in the field of education, she is determined to help students succeed in school and life. “ One of my goals is to continue to be a humanitarian who helps our local community. I am passionate about my relentless pursuit of knowledge and desire to help others.“

 

 

What Do You Want To Accomplish?

accomplish

What do you want to accomplish?

It’s a question that we should ask ourselves often. It may even be a question you get asked when applying to a college or university, or for a scholarship. You may even get asked this question in a job interview. Think about it and write you answer down in present tense. Post it somewhere you can see it everyday as a reminder.

Examples

  • I am using my planner every day.
  • I do not have any missing assignments.
  • I am volunteering with the Humane Society.
  • I have A’s and B’s in all my classes.
  • I am confident to take my final exam.
  • I am working at my new job twice a week.
  • I enjoy participating in class and ask questions when I don’t understand something.

There is no accomplishment or goal too small. Go for what you want. You never know what you are capable of until you try. What will you accomplish this today? What will you accomplish this week? What do you want to accomplish this quarter or semester?

mel professional photo by kateMelanie Black is an Associate Certified Academic Life Coach and mindfulness educator. She is passionate about helping others and learning all she can in the process. With ten years of experience in the field of education, she is determined to help students succeed in school and life. “ One of my goals is to continue to be a humanitarian who helps our local community. I am passionate about my relentless pursuit of knowledge and desire to help others.“

Words of Wisdom: Shalane Flanagan

Photo Credit: https://www.instagram.com/shalaneflanagan/

Photo Credit: https://www.instagram.com/shalaneflanagan/

On November 5th, 2017 Shalane Flanagan won the New York City Marathon with a finishing time of 2:26:53 and is the first woman in 40 years to win this race. Congratulations, Shalane! Your are an inspiration to us all.

“I’ve dreamed of a moment like this since I was a little girl,” Flanagan said, through tears. “It means a lot to me, to my family—and hopefully inspires the next generation of American women to just be patient. It took me seven years to do this. It took a lot of work for just this one moment.” – Shalane Flanagan

7 years! Shalane’s words of wisdom hit home for me not just as a runner but also as a life long learner, as someone who has aspirations to achieve many things.

How does this apply to student life?

Teens are under a tremendous amount of pressure in middle school, high school, and college. Every student goes to school from grades 1-12 to work for that one moment when they get to graduate, when they get to walk across the stage to receive their diploma for which they worked so hard to achieve. College and university students are no different. Students work even harder for 4-8 years to walk again and achieve their dreams. Sometimes with all the stress from school it may seem that your goal(s) is impossible. Shalane Flanagan mentions that it took her seven years to achieve her dream. She had to overcome multiple disappointments over the years. Her win in NYC teaches us that hard work and perseverance pays off. What is one major challenge that you have overcome in your life? How did you do it? What kept you going?

“Don’t be afraid to dream of achieving the impossible.” – Shalane Flanagan

mel professional photo by kateMelanie Black is an Associate Certified Academic Life Coach and mindfulness educator. She is passionate about helping others and learning all she can in the process. With ten years of experience in the field of education, she is determined to help students succeed in school and life. “ One of my goals is to continue to be a humanitarian who helps our local community. I am passionate about my relentless pursuit of knowledge and desire to help others.“

How to Make a Planner Work for You

Do you have a hard time using your planner? Is it too big? Too small? Not enough room to write?

In this video I share my story of how I created a planner that works for me. Every middle and high school, and college student are different and we all have different preferences when it comes to planner yet most planners have the same layout. In this video I give some simple tips for finding and creating a planner that works for you. It’s easy. I promise. Check it out!

 

Don’t have time to check out the video? No worries. Here’s the gist of it.

I have gone through several planners to get to the one I use now, which I am very happy with. First, I purchased a pretty faux leather planner from Office Depot for about $35. It was a beautiful turquoise, which is my favorite color, and had a weekly layout along with a monthly layout. As with a majority of planners the weekly layout was standard small rectangles for each day. One week spanned two pages. It was ok but I couldn’t fit everything I wanted in those rectangular spaces each day.

For Christmas one year my best friend sent me a couple of Moleskine notebooks with a sticky note on the front that read, “Go to bulletjournal.com” This was life changing! If you don’t know about bullet journaling check it out! For about 6 months I experimented with bullet journalling and various planner layouts that I created. Eventually after using the same layout for a few months I grew tired of drawing the my template in my notebook every week.

I decided it was time to create a template on the computer, one I could print out, one I didn’t have to draw each week. I went to YouTube and found a basic video tutorial for Adobe InDesign about how to create a planner page. Once again another life changing moment! So I created my template and printed it. I put into that old pretty turquoise planner binder from Office Depot. Great! So I have my customized template and a pretty cover. All is good, right?

So this binder was too small. Back to InDesign. I made my template bigger, 8.5×11. I bought a 1/2 inch white binder from Office Depot for less than $5 and printed my template. Perfecto! I also created a photo collage, which I printed and inserted on the front cover of my binder. Then, I created a sticker collage of positive messages and inserted that into the back cover. I love my planner!

What I learned about finding and creating suitable planners.

It’s not the cover or binder that you want to base your purchase on. It’s what’s inside the planner that you want to pay attention to. However, you shouldn’t completely ignore the pretty cover. A planner’s appearance should make you want to use it. I added photos and positive messages to mine because when I look at it makes me happy, it makes me want to open it up and write in it. Lastly, creating systems is a process that requires patience and time. Patience is a virtue!

Want to make a planner that works for you? Here’s my advice. 

  1. Take a blank piece of computer paper. Cut it to the size you want your planner to be.
  2. Take a pencil and draw what your ideal planner would look like. If you are talented you could even do it on the computer!
  3. Punch holes and put it into a binder that works for you.
  4. Make it fun. Buy some stickers, print some photos.

**Use it for one month. Then reflect and decide what works and what doesn’t. Edit your template, tweak your planner accordingly.

Does this sound like too much work? There are lots of different planner systems you can experiment with but it may cost you a pretty penny. Here are some that are popular.

HAPPY PLANNING!

mel professional photo by kateMelanie Black is an Associate Certified Academic Life Coach and mindfulness educator. She is passionate about helping others and learning all she can in the process. With ten years of experience in the field of education, she is determined to help students succeed in school and life. “ One of my goals is to continue to be a humanitarian who helps our local community. I am passionate about my relentless pursuit of knowledge and desire to help others.“

Reflect On Your Success

Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/101332430@N03/

Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/101332430@N03/

The road to success is paved with many challenges for students. Teenagers are under a lot pressure with regard to their academics. plus, their brains are still developing. College students have to deal with getting their school work completed, working one or more jobs, paying bills, and possibly taking care of family members. With all these challenges it’s important to stop and focus on the positive things.

What is one success you have had recently?

“Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.” – Robert Collier

Did you hand in your homework on time?

Did you finish a major project that you are proud of?

Did you successfully help a friend or family member?

Did you do well on a recent test or quiz?

Did you successfully implement a new habit? Ex.: Using a planner, waking up or going to bed at a certain time, etc.

Every little victory counts!

 

How to Talk About College and Careers With Your Teen

The Vermeire's come together for a family dinner, sharing the day's stories from school, work and track practice. Each of the girls have different daily routines dependent on school activities, chores and after school employment. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Bennie J. Davis III)

photo credit:  (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Bennie J. Davis III)

Sometimes parents get the big eye roll when they try to discuss college and careers with their teenagers. Teens get college and career advice all the time. Everyone has an opinion about their aspirations, interests, etc. So how can you have a powerful discussion with your teen about college and careers?

“You should be a …..” 

Ask you teen what career interests they have, but don’t tell them what to be. Even if you notice a talent they have that would make them suitable for a particular path if they have no interest in that area they will not be able to excel in that field. Try suggesting a career rather than telling them what they should do. “Have you thought about …….” “Do you know anything about ……”

You can be whatever you want to be.

While this is a supportive approach it is not the best way to help your teen. This statement gives them no guidance. Ask your teen questions about careers. Talk about choices together.

If it’s hard then don’t do it.

This is not something parents should say to students. We need to encourage our children to take on challenges and persevere. Challenging things make us stronger. We learn from challenging experiences. I know we want our children to take on a career that will not be stressful or cause emotional pain, but at the same time some people see a job as overwhelming and others may see the same job as an opportunity. Don’t discourage your teen. If you think they mention a career that is challenging explore the pros and cons together.

Picture yourself 10 years from now. Where are you? What are you doing? Who is around you?

Do you have a career vision?

What do you want to get really good at doing?

What is your definition of work?

What impact do you want to have on other people’s lives or in the world?

Whom do you admire most? What qualities do you admire in that person. (living or dead)

What is most important to you? What do you value?

What motivates you?

Do you believe that you can love what you do and make money doing it?

The best thing you can do for your teen is listen to them, ask them about their interests, and guide them to making choices best suited for them.

Melanie Black is an Associate Certified Academic Life Coach and mindfulness educator. She is passionate about helping others and learning all she can in the process. With ten years of experience in the field of education, she is determined to help students succeed in school and life. “ One of my goals is to continue to be a humanitarian who helps our local community. I am passionate about my relentless pursuit of knowledge and desire to help others.“