Reality Check: The Encouragement of Youth

The recent passing of Prince Philip reminded me about the Duke of Edinburgh award, and that it’s important to encourage youth in positive directions.
Encouragement—or a lack of encouragement—can make a significant difference for us, whether we are youthful or seasoned. The information we receive and the influences we have play a significant role in our choices and our lives.
So, what were those positive directions that the award encouraged?
According to the Duke of Edinburgh website, award outcomes include the development of a lengthy list of capabilities. Among them are confidence, resilience, leadership, creativity, problem-solving and more.
Wherever there’s a list, different people find different items significant. In among the listed capabilities, one that I found particularly interesting is “managing feelings.” This included reflecting, self-awareness, self-control, etc.
No matter our stage of life, managing our feelings can be an ongoing challenge. Youths who learn how to manage their feelings will benefit for their whole lives, not just in their personal life, but also in workplaces and community.
How does one learn to manage feelings? Of course, I’m going to suggest one of Dr. Glasser’s Choice Theory concepts here, although it’s not to imply that this is the only way.
You may have noticed that our feelings are ready and willing to take over our lives if we let them. Glasser suggests that actions and thoughts influence feelings. So, if we’d rather not have our feelings running the show, then deliberately choose actions and thoughts. Our feelings will follow.
Action in the form of physical activity seems particularly useful. You may have noticed that it’s more difficult to stay mad or sad while engaging in strenuous activity. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but action can lift us out of our unhappy place at least for awhile. And that’s a step in the direction of management of feelings.
The Duke’s award isn’t all about feelings. Another of the listed capabilities is “Personal and social well-being” which includes state of mind, the fulfillment they get from life, and life satisfaction.
We are more encouraged when we are around satisfied, fulfilled people who have a positive state of mind. If you’ve ever been in a happy workplace, a happy family, or a happy community group (and I hope that you have) then you know that it’s a lot more satisfying to be around satisfied people than it is to be surrounded by the continuously-dissatisfied.
While it’s fine to know that we can manage our feelings by choosing our actions, it’s definitely easier to do so when we are surrounded by positive, happy people.
The Duke’s award also encouraged young people to develop confidence and resilience, self-discipline and self-reliance, problem-solving and communication skills, as well as a favourite theme of mine: having a sense of purpose.
These encouragements are the opposite of behaviours such as blaming others for one’s difficulties, or letting hostility rule one’s actions, attitudes, and views of others, no matter who they may be.
Do you believe that the capabilities listed in the Duke’s award are still considered positive? Are they still appropriate to encourage in youth? And if so, do you believe that the current culture is encouraging these characteristics? How so?

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