Sunday, December 11, 2016

Teaching Calmness

William George Jordan was born in 1864 and died in 1928. At the time he was a well-known editor for many publications, one of which was the Saturday Evening Post. Although Jordan was a highly respected editor, he also became known for his presentations and books in the area of mental training – the art of being calm! [i]

Jordan said, “Calmness is the rarest quality in human life. It is the poise of a great nature, in harmony with itself and its ideals. It is the moral atmosphere of a life self-centered, self reliant, and self-controlled. Calmness is singleness of purpose, absolute confidence, and conscious power - ready to be focused in an instant to meet any crisis."
Jordan goes on to state that the fatalist is not calm, and that this person usually surrenders to his or her present situation.

I did not read the works of William George Jordan until I was much older in life. I was surprised to find a fellow author, who believed much as I that the art of staying calm in difficult situations was a critical skill in order to counter the acts of bullying.

In Jordan’s words, “Calmness comes ever from within. It is the peace and restfulness of the depths of our nature.”

I don’t remember an exact time in my life when I first began this skill, but I can still remember some of my earliest examples. As a child going to a doctor, I would sit in the lobby, close my eyes, and calm myself down. Through the years, I would use this technique in many of my medical situations and when I was bullied in my early teens.

The true test of this skill came in my twenties when I was faced with a life and death situation. My ability to calm myself and realistically deal with the situation confronting me was probably the greatest reason that I survived.

The years went by and the skill of calmness became just a part of my everyday life. As a school principal, calmness was my greatest ally. I used this skill like a protective shield so that I could analyze any situation and develop an appropriate response. It is not surprising that I spent most of my career working in schools that were faced with difficult situations.

Calmness can greatly help our children when they are attacked by a bully or find themselves as bystanders.

The worst enemy of calmness is reactionary impulsive decisions or a submissive belief. These are the reactions bullies strive for in their victims.

How do we teach this skill? From the earliest points of childhood, parents are faced with numerous times when a child is distraught over events in their life. The child may have skinned up their knees in a bicycle accident or had a confrontation with a sibling. Rather than reacting quickly, let’s try to calm the child down first. This will allow you as the parent to get a complete picture of the situation and begin teaching the child the skill of calmness.
Discussions of reacting to situations with calmness can be part of the ongoing discussions with the family. You can set up scenarios or real situations and discuss possible ways of using this skill.

As the child moves toward adolescence the lessons in calmness can be far more preventative.

Last, I believe one of the greatest enemies of our society is ‘Hurry’ the antithesis of calmnessJordan believed this as well. We hurry here and we hurry there, often missing valuable points in our surroundings.

I usually find myself smiling as I see these types of personalities at work. They remind me of the Disney film Alice in Wonderland when the white rabbit says, “I'm late! I'm late for a very important date!” I often wonder if they are like this every minute of their lives.

A related personality to the ‘hurry’ person is the people who ‘multi-task’. They are like the white rabbit except they juggle multiple things at the same time to avoid the perception of ‘hurrying’. I find these personalities pretty cool to watch – right up to the moment when everything collapses! Unfortunately for these people, they often take down many things at once when the collapse occurs.

[i] William George Jordan, The Majesty of Calmness, Filiquarian Publishing, 2007

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