Wednesday, October 17, 2012


I've been reading a book, Flourish, written by the founder of positive psychology, Martin Seligman with full of practical ideas for well-being. He says, 

"Positive mental health is a presence: the presence of positive emotion, the presence of engagement, the presence of good relationship and the presence of accomplishment."

Being healthy doesn't mean merely being absence of mental or physical sickness. 

In Chapter 6 of the book, he talks about academic accomplishment and the essential role of self-decipline in order to flourish in classroom as a learner. Not high IQ but self-decipline/ willpower works better to get better grades. Which explains why generally girls get better grades than boys. Generally girls got more self-decipline, some research show. 

I haven't really studied this tricky business, gender yet but from my personal observation on kids for about 17 years, I suspect there are some distinguishable characteristics between boys and girls. Perhaps this view is based on conventional social belief but wherever I go, I find some boys with no self-decipline, especially at bars. And I suspect this is quite universal fact. 

Whether this view is scientifically valid or not, I personally prefer the idea that self-decipline works to be academically excellent because willpower or self-decipline can be nurtured or learned. As long as it can be acquired, there is a hope for everyone. 

There is a terrible notion that some people are born to be winners with their high intelligence. This notion seems like one of the worst common demotivators for young learners because it sends a message that it doesn't matter how hard you try because the intelligence is a fixed ability. In fact, those who are excellent in any kinds of filed are the hardest worker with full of self-decipline to accomplish the high goal they set for themselves. 

Albert Einstein says

"It's not that I'm so smart, it's just that I stay with problems longer. "

I found the same notion in the assertion of Seligman in the book and that's what I believe at the moment. 

Last night, my 13 year old, the best whinger of the world, daughter tried to push herself to study for the test at school. As she failed to motivate herself, she started blaming her lack of motivation on the school system, textbooks, teachers and the ultimate excuse, biological inferiority. So, I explained what Seligman says on academic accomplishment. The little philosopher examined the logic in the story for a while and asked me the validity of it. As I assured her with my full-hearted faith in the notion, she went back to her room to carry out her mission of the day- study for the test. 

I suppose my mission as a mum accomplished and I feel flourished :-)

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