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Episode 78: Scott Schimmel on Resilient Kids Are Filled With Hope

Some students are self-directed, motivated learners who are engaged with their academics, their friends, and their involvement in sports or clubs. Many students, though, are not. They go through the motions. They struggle to find motivation. They feel like life is happening to them, like they're a character in someone else's story. They feel like even if they tried to be more engaged, their path is already predicted by other forces or circumstances. Feeling hopeless is a miserable experience. Whether you’re feeling hopeless about your relationship status, friendships, career path, or your waistline, most people would say it’s the worst experience of being a human. The good news is that hope is like a muscle- it can be exercised and strengthened. You’re not born with a fixed amount of hope. It’s not given out in limited quantities, and it doesn’t evaporate over time. Although some people are born with a more optimistic outlook than others, anyone can become a hopeful person. According to the Snyder Hope Theory, hope is not a fixed constraint but rather a dynamic that can be cultivated in anyone. There are two parts to pay attention to: pathways and agency. Hope pathways are about seeing multiple pathways to achieve your desired future. In other words, believing deep down that your goal is possible and achievable. Hope agency is about seeing yourself as a critical piece and driver towards your desired future. In other words, believing that you have the power and ability to make the steps and changes necessary. It’s saying to yourself, “I can do it—I have what it takes.” When it comes to cultivating hope, Snyder’s theory creates the foundation for proper goal setting. It’s one thing to ask people to come up with things they want in life, but too often they’re left as wishful thinking and lack any real benefit. To help a student cultivate hope, guide them to not only describe the type of future they want as well as the different possible paths to get there. Ask them to name the specific activities they can engage in to make progress- breaking down the steps as much as you can. When they get stuck, help them brainstorm and then ask them to commit to which steps they'll take and by when. People with high hope, though, respond differently to setbacks and challenges. They understand roadblocks as a part of the process, not the end of the story. So, when it comes to working with kids, we can lead them to think through what they want, what they will do to get what they want, and alternative routes to getting what they want. Not only will they be clearer about their future, but they will see themselves as key actors in the story that’s unfolding, strengthening their motivation and resolve along the way. Students with higher levels of hope are more resilient, make better choices, are self-motivated, are more effective problem solvers, do better academically, and are less likely to engage in risky behaviors like substance use. * For more on the science of hope, check out the book Hope Rising: How the Science of Hope Can Change Your Life available on Amazon.


Do you know?

For years we’ve been studying what a young person needs in order to transition into a healthy, thriving adulthood.  

They're uncommon sense ideas, really.

Download this checklist and use it with your students (or kids).

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