Strengthen the Spirit

Hi All and welcome to the last blog in my series about raising resilient kids in these busy times. If this is your first visit, please be sure to read my previous blogs in the series.

As I’ve previously mentioned, I was inspired to write this series of blogs after reading a fabulous book written by Maggie Dent (The Queen of Common Sense) called “Real Kids in an Unreal World”.

My children are adults now so I sit as an observer to the parenting of young children and I see that it seems to have become quite complicated. I guess it’s like that as each generation comes through, and each set of parents knows no different. All I do know for sure, is that no matter which era we raise children in, common sense ALWAYS works. If parents could find a way to ‘dial things back’ a bit and simplify their lives, I believe it would remove some of the stress involved in living life in these times.

To todays subject………How does our spirit serve us? Have you ever been in/ through a difficult situation, something quite big? And even though it seemed like the universe was ‘against’ you, something from deep within gave you the strength to rally and overcome? Well, dear readers, that was your spirit. The human spirit is a truly amazing thing. I’m in absolute awe of the people in stories we hear about overcoming situations that I think could possibly leave me emotionally crippled.

A strong spirit is vital to our resilience as humans. It prevents us from feeling disconnected and separated within the world. Therefore, we must do all we can to strengthen our children’s spirits if we want to give them a chance to be resilient.

Children have an innate ability to strengthen their spirits as they experience joy and delight in so many things, such as feeling rain, running through a big pile of leaves (I still do that, it’s so much fun), jumping in puddles, patting a puppy or a kitten, seeing Christmas Tree lights. They find awe in the simple things which the majority of us now take for granted.

Fun fact………

The natural world and open spaces help to strengthen the human spirit, release stress and reenergise us.

So get those kids outside. Stroll through the beautiful Botanical Gardens, there are so many ‘magical’ places to be found there. Take them to a park, a mountain, a beach. Nature is all around, free and so good for all of us due to it’s incredible healing powers. It makes sense that “those who have had positive natural highs as young children are more likely to seek natural thrills rather than seek this through drugs or high-risk activities as they become teenagers and adults”.

Imaginary play is another beauty for feeding the imagination and strengthening the spirit.

A line in Maggie’s book got me to wondering about something else. Why is it, that from an early age, we tend to condition our children to “settle down” when they are excited? Is it that we don’t like that kind of ‘noise’, we’re worried about being judged by other people around us (I remember the looks in the supermarket) or have we simply forgotten what it’s like to be totally caught up in the joy of things?

Laughter and joy are ‘NOT NEGOTIABLE’ musts in life. According to Daniel Goleman in his book Emotional Intelligence, 1996, “a sense of humour is one of the most protective factors in terms of resilience, because it helps us to reframe a negative experience into a lighter moment. Chemical changes happen in the brain that help us diffuse stress, improve our emotional state and allow us to review the situation from a more optimistic place”.

I have to say that I have always had the ability to laugh at myself and it really does lighten the moment. My children, on the other hand, didn’t seem to appreciate my ability to laugh at THEM. Oops, pretty insensitive right? I’m still learning :)

Something to think on.….. Nowadays we talk of Intellectual and emotional intelligence. In her book, Maggie has also described Spiritual Intelligence as:

  • Wonder

  • Respect and reverence

  • Awe

  • Relational spirituality

  • Lightness and laughter

  • Contemplation

  • Calmness, stillness and quiet

  • Tenderness and gratitude

  • Simplicity

  • Listening with the heart

Nice :)

I’ll be finishing up with a couple of quotes, but before I do, some tips for strengthening the spirit (not just for the children)

  • Allow opportunity to experience the joy of discover

  • Loving relationships strengthen the spirit

  • Feeling loved and valued is essential to a strong spirit

  • Develop an appreciation for cultural diversity - all peoples are more alike than different

  • Make arts part of every day - singing, dancing, music, painting, make-believe and storytelling

  • Laugh and tell jokes

  • Connection to nature is very important for the growth of the whole child

  • Acts of kindness towards others always build our own spirit and sense of value

  • Remember the little things are often the big things for toddlers and children

  • The gift of the imagination is a powerful source of comfort, distraction and escape

  • A strong spirit will help individuals overcome setbacks and diversity

“Spirit is the innermost quality of being. It is that part of us that is unstained, the primordial beauty from which we derive every inspiration, an inborn reservoir from which can draw every jewel of excellence, the source of universal love and compassion, the clear radiance from which wisdom is born.”

- Geshe Lobsang Tenzin, Director of the Deprung Monastery in North America, in Lexie Brockway Potamkin, What is Spirit: Messages from the Heart (1999)

“Childhood is a time of wonder and awe as the world grabs our attention through fresh eyes and ears. It is not hard to find a child absorbed in the blissful moment on a swing, or spinning just to feel the world move around them. Children are natural mystics. Sometimes the wonder opens all the way to ecstasy and unity.”

- Tobin Hart, The Secret Spiritual World of Children (2003)

So, beautiful parents, this concludes my blogs in this particular series. I hope you’ve enjoyed them. I believe that if you are giving your children(and yourselves) loads of love, kindness and nature, then you’re on the right track. Good job everyone.

Keep up the great heart work :)

Keep up the great heart work :)

Look out for my next Blog on Mindfulness and it’s many benefits. Join me please.

Until then :)

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I love helping families feel happier! If you would like to chat about how I can help you, follow this link to my “Contact Me” page.

This piece is written with the intention of helping parents create happier and more resilient children and is subject to copyright. Please contact the author if you wish to publish elsewhere.