Wisdom How to Teach Kids That Anything Is Possible What a classroom experiment can show us about positive thinking By Nate Howard A disabled veteran of the Gulf War, Arthur Boorman was told that he would never walk again. Inspired by Diamond Dallas Page’s hybrid yoga, he decided to challenge the impossible. Less than a year later, through hard work and dedication, Boorman beat the odds against him; he was able to walk again. After watching a video about Arthur’s story, my students at the Monarch School, were in complete shock of his transformation and will to succeed after many failed attempts. The key takeaway for them was that they all have the power to choose what they think. When they take control of their thoughts, they take control of who they are and who they want to be. In order for them to experience this concept, I introduced a simple activity to accomplish. Students have to get through a jump rope, one after the other, without skipping a beat. If they mess up, they have to start all over. I told the students to close their eyes and imagine themselves accomplishing it. They have two choices in their minds: to believe this activity is possible or impossible. The Becoming Minimalist website published an article about “The Single Principle You Need to Clean out the Mind Clutter for Good.” The author gives us four steps: 1. Get ready to move out of your castle. He challenges us to imagine we are moving out of this giant castle that is filled with thoughts, worries, anxiety, fears, memories, desires. 2. Choose carefully what you pack. We have to pack very lightly. We can only take what we plan to use. Are we going to use fears and negative thoughts? Or do we plan to bring our desires and positive thoughts? 3. Find a space for everything you brought as you move into your new place. Everything has to occupy space and there’s room only for half the stuff in your head. 4. Apply the rule to live clutter free. Choose either a negative thought or a positive thought. But you cannot choose both. On the students’ last attempt with the jump rope activity, I challenged them to do this by concentrating only on the positive thoughts of accomplishment. One student took the lead, encouraging her classmates to focus in, that “we can do this!” The first student jumped, then the next, and the next. As the momentum built, what was supposed to be impossible was accomplished! There were screams of excitement as the room filled with joy. The lesson they learned is that they must not underestimate what they can accomplish if they simply believe in themselves. When we teach students to take control of their thoughts, we inspire them to see value in themselves, to persevere when times get tough. They CAN take control of their thoughts, so they CAN take control of who they are and who they want to BE. More than 3 million kids around the world ages 7–17 were treated for depression in the past five years. This is more than double the number from the previous five years, according to a study from Stanford University. Students at the Monarch School are impacted by homelessness, and many suffer with depression from stressful households. Their home life is challenging enough, so it becomes difficult to engage in a classroom when some may not be sure what they will even eat tonight. So much is on their minds, and yet we continue to push more miscellaneous facts into their heads with no true understanding of application. We need to create a balance so that they understand their own self-worth. They need an outlet to unpack negative thoughts and replace them with positive ones. When they begin to visualize success for themselves, it’s evident that nothing can stop them. It all starts with taking that first jump! Wanderlust is proud to partner with the Sonima Foundation to bring mindful education to underserved students as part of our Wanderlust Giving campaign. Learn more about the cause and join the campaign here. Photo by Breanne Furlong — Nate Howard is a motivational speaker and social entrepreneur who teaches mindfulness practices with spoken word poetry. He’s introduced his work with Deepak Chopra on behalf of the Sonima Foundation, and has worked to develop curriculum for the Monarch School, which serves students impacted by homelessness. More of his work can be found on his website at natehowardspeaks.com.