Greystone House Montessori Schools Houston, Texas. Child care Montessori provider in Champions, The Woodlands, Spring Texas Greystone House Montessori Schools Houston
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In the 1990’s Martin Seligman wrote a couple of best sellers Learned Optimism and Authentic Happiness. He became known as the father of positive psychology, and he quotes mountains of research that substantiates the idea that we are more productive when our self-esteem (happiness) is high. His research shows that pessimists are eight times more likely to suffer depression; they do worse in school, sports, and most jobs; and they have poorer physical health, rockier relationships, and shorter lives. Positive emotion opens us to new ideas and new experiences. In our world of rapidly increasing changes, we need that positive mental attitude to broaden our intellectual, physical, and social resources.

Dr. Seligman has a grant to begin working on a large-scale project with high school students to help them identify their strengths and turn those strengths into positive forces in their lives. This effort builds on his research showing that 10-year-olds who were taught the skills of optimistic thinking and action had less than half the incidences of depression as they went into puberty. He has defined six virtues to achieve based on extensive research in world religions and philosophies. (The virtues are wisdom/knowledge, courage, love/humanity, justice, temperance, and spirituality.) He then talks about crafting your job and your life around these six virtues. When you use your strengths to make your job and your life better, the success you experience will give you ideas about how to go further with the things that give you the most pleasure. His key to recrafting your job and your life is to make it a calling – having a passionate commitment to it – giving you a sense of serving the greater good.

What does this have to do with our preschoolers? Dr. Seligman’s first book discussed learned helplessness. This is what we see beginning at the preschool level. From Dr. Seligman’s research, as well as that of many others, we can anticipate a puberty and a life coming with constant struggle against depression. We can start today teaching our children a can-do attitude; a joy of constant mindfulness, curiosity, and learning; pleasure in loving and being loved; and courage in the face of tough jobs. Jarrod Green, in his book, I’m Ok: Building Resilience through Physical Play says, “If we want children to grow into confident, engaged, fulfilled, happy members of society, they’re going to need the skills to pick themselves up, brush themselves off, and bounce back.” As our children’s role models, we know we have to have these skills and attitudes ourselves. Visit Dr. Seligman’s website at for more great information and some analysis tools for yourself.