“When you choose to view your stress response as helpful, you create the biology of courage.”
– Dr. Kelly McGonigal
We’ve learned, over the last ten years or so, that with many of our content areas in Health – nutrition, physical activity, bullying, drug prevention – focusing on the positive was the way to go.
The scare tactics of the past – Just Say No, Fit Not Fat, Super Size Me – all proved ineffective ways of motivating students, and people, to develop healthy habits for life.
So as Health teachers, we’ve shifted our mindsets, and our curriculum, to focus on what we should, rather than shouldn’t do.
“Don’t eat fast food” became “Eat real food”.
“Don’t be a bully” morphed into “Be an ally”.
and “Just say no” became “Don’t you have something better to do?”
Makes perfect sense when you think about it. Tell someone (especially teenagers) that something is bad for them, and they’ll fixate on it, worry about it, and sometimes want it, even more.
But as we’ve flipped our lessons, there’s one content area in which our approach hasn’t really changed…
I mean, aside from a little talk about good stress and how it helps us achieve our goals, we want to teach the kids to avoid it. Block it out. Manage it. Remove it.
“Chasing meaning is better for your health than trying to avoid discomfort”.
Boom. Don’t think I’ve ever heard it put quite so clearly.
For more from Kelly McGonigal, check out her website, Where Science and Compassion Meet.