Storytelling Empathy: A Literacy Of Kindness

Empathy & creativity are two of the most important skills our kids will need to effectively participate in the 21st century.

Inspiring them to sit still, be empathetic and mindfully connect with people unlike themselves will enable them to become happy, & co-create a better world for us all.

Mindfulness Creates Positive Neural Pathways

We know practicing  empathy & acts of kindness can make us happy. We also know childhood creativity leads to adult innovation.

On a pragmatic level, we know we're going to have to innovate to solve our mounting global problems. There's no way out. We can't continue to ignore global human rights & climate issues. Something's gotta give. How can we build a literacy of kindness together?

We've developed the technology to reach across the globe in an instant, we owe it to our kids to start reaching inward and develop our own empathetic natures to match our technological expertise. We need to slow down and co-create a kinder world, one where all kids get a chance to play, learn & prosper.

How Can We Do This?

To quote my favorite book by Pema Chodron: "start where you are." Start by slowing down and becoming more mindful yourself, then involve your kids.

The Greater Good Science Center at The University Of California, Berkeley suggests sharing this mindfulness lesson with kids:

1. “Please get into your ‘mindful bodies’—still and quiet, sitting upright, eyes closed.”
2. “Now place all your attention on the sound you are about to hear. Listen until the sound is completely gone.”
3. Ring a “mindfulness bell,” or have a student ring the bell. Use a bell with a sustained sound or a rain stick to encourage mindful listening.
4. “Please raise your hand when you can no longer hear the sound.”
5. When most or all have raised their hands, you can say, “Now slowly, mindfully, move your hand to your stomach or chest, and just feel your breathing.”
6. You can help students stay focused during the breathing with reminders like, “Just breathing in … just breathing out …”
7. Ring the bell to end.

Kids In Crisis

We're all connected. It's about all Our Kids, writes Robert Putnam in his recent book, not just my kid or your kid. Listen as he explains the research behind why this matters for us all.

The American Dream is in crisis, but really it's the Global Dream, we're all in crisis, some of us choose to live in denial.

It's difficult, I know, nobody is perfect, we all fail, but we have to get up again, we have to start where we are as educators, artists & families.

We have to get involved with the kids right in front of us, in our own families and neighborhoods.
We have to empower them to slow down, become self kind, tell their own stories, stories that matter, stories that resonate and even change the world.

If we don't do it, who will?

Storytelling A Literacy Of Kindness On Twitter@cynthiajabar

Related Notes on Mindfulness & Kids

Notes On Empathy

Notes On Creativity

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