Saturday, June 18, 2016

10 Ways to Be Happier

Put Some Pep in Your Step

Scientists say walking tall with swinging arms helps you feel more positive. Even if you're not feeling happy, a spirited stroll can help you fake it till you make it.

Slap on a Smile

Want to lift your spirits? Lift the corners of your mouth. When you smile like you mean it, you can change your brain’s chemistry and feel happier.


Find ways to get involved in your community or help out a friend in need. You’ll help yourself, too. It can improve your mental health and well-being. Win-win.

Make New Friends

It makes you feel good to spend time with people who care about you. So be open to new relationships, whether it’s someone you meet at the office, gym, church, or park. But be sure to maintain those lifelong connections, too. Studies show the more connected you are, the happier you are.

Count Your Blessings

Write down everything that’s good in your life. When you make an effort to look on the bright side, it helps you stay focused on the positive.

Break a Sweat

It can take as little as 5 minutes for exercise to put you in a better mood. Moving your body also has good long-term effects: Regular exercise helps keep depression at bay.

Forgive and Forget

Are you holding a grudge? Let it go. Forgiveness frees you from negative thoughts and makes more room in your life for inner peace. And that brings you happiness.

Practice Mindfulness

Meditate for an hour a week. It’ll give you a dose of joy, peace, and contentment. It’ll also create new pathways in your brain to make it easier for you to feel joy.

Turn on Some Tunes

Music can have a powerful effect on your emotions. Pick your favorite music mix and get into the groove. You’ll get a real feel-good vibe.

Get the ZZZs You Need

Most adults need 7 or 8 hours of sleep each night to stay in a good mood. You’re more likely to be happy when you get enough shut-eye.

Daily Inspirational Quote for June 18, 2016

“We all cling to the past and, because we cling to the past, we become unavailable to the present.”

I don’t agree that we all cling to the past but I do believe that some of us tend to allow the past to dominate and affect our present. As a result, we are preventing ourselves from actually living life to the fullest at the present time and where does that get us? Stuck, that’s where! We can’t go back, as what’s done is done, and we’re not moving forward if we are continually reliving the past so up to us to realize this and release the past, “bye bye past and good riddance!” Now, bring it on……..


Housecalls for the Homebound

When Dr. Samuel Lupin's critically-ill daughter passed away he was understandably devastated. Then he channeled his grief into serving other patients who, like his late daughter, were fragile and housebound. ""Because of her, I got involved in this," he says. "You sort of feel like, these are my patients, this is my extended family, and they need me much more than patients in an office." Little did Lupin know that a decade later, his encore venture would grow from a one-doc shop into a thriving multigenerational practice. With seven doctors and a nurse practitioner on board, along with a cadre of medical assistants, House calls for the Homebound has brought essential medical care to more than 4,000 patients in the greater New York City area."


Dr. Samuel Lupin was nearly halfway through the 45-mile commute from his home in Rockland County, NY, to his medical office in Brooklyn when his cell phone rang. Lupin's critically-ill daughter Lois, who lived in his home, needed him. Something was wrong with her ventilator, and he had to turn back.

Caught between the emotional demands of caregiving and his deep commitment to his patients, Lupin realized his life had to change.

It was 2004. No one would have faulted Lupin, then 66, for retiring. But instead, he moved into a high-touch, low-tech practice model that gave him flexibility: House calls, instead of office hours.

Lois died a year later. Lupin was devastated. “When a parent loses a child,” he says, “there is absolutely nothing, zero, zip, that provides comfort.” But Lupin had become attached to his frail, elderly and often-homebound patients and felt that seeing them honored Lois’ memory. “Because of her, I got involved in this,” he says. “You sort of feel like, these are my patients, this is my extended family, and they need me much more than patients in an office.”

Little did Lupin know that a decade later, his encore venture would grow from a one-doc shop into a thriving multigenerational practice. With seven doctors and a nurse practitioner on board, along with a cadre of medical assistants, Housecalls for the Homebound has brought essential medical care to more than 4,000 patients in the greater New York City area. Lupin's grandson Daniel Stokar, 29, manages the business with a system created by Avi Stokar, Lupin’s son-in-law and Daniel's father, 53. Lupin, now 77, oversees the unconventional family business.

With Housecalls for the Homebound, Lupin and the Stokars have brought 21st century smarts to the old-time practice of medicine, permitting doctors to focus on patients who otherwise would not have access to consistent medical treatment, cutting hospitalizations, and creating a scalable, replicable model that could potentially save billions while providing a high standard of care.

More than 4,000 homebound patients in the New York City metropolitan area have been treated by Housecalls for the Homebound.

Hospitals with higher than average rates of readmissions have contracted with Housecalls to see recently discharged patients in need of additional medical care.

Lupin's holistic approach and ability to administer real-time changes to medications and treatment plans has led to 50 percent reductions in hospitalizations.

Housecalls' patients, most over 80, typically suffer from multiple chronic conditions, often with superimposed acute illnesses that require active treatment. Their profoundly limited mobility means that medical care visits before Housecalls were rare. Too often, both chronic and acute needs were neglected, as is true for the estimated two million elderly adults who are homebound nationwide. Beyond the human costs to health and spirit, the economic costs are staggering.

Homebound patients often turn to hospitals for emergency medical care. A single hospitalization can cost Medicare anywhere from $6,000 to upwards of $100,000. Housecalls' patients see doctors about once a month; after they begin getting regular care, their hospitalizations drop dramatically, from an average of three to five a year to two or less.

That drop means savings for hospitals that are required under the Affordable Care Act to reduce readmissions within 30 days or face docked Medicare payments. Housecalls partners with hospitals to support patients after they're discharged and has also joined with managed care organizations to support patients and reduce costs following hospital discharge. “The improvement in this patient population that we’re taking care of is so striking,” says Lupin. “It's an unbelievably great feeling.”

Making house calls harkens back to Lupin's inspiration to go into medicine. Growing up in New Orleans as one of six children, the family's  pediatrician was often at Lupin’s home. “I just took to him,” says Lupin. “He was always smiling and friendly.”

After graduating from Tulane Medical School and serving in the U.S. Navy, assigned to the Marines, Lupin served as assistant clinical director of Charity Hosptial in New Orleans, during which he created innovations in emergency room triage systems. Later, he established a busy private practice in New Orleans and managed a dialysis unit. But the educational opportunities for his five children were better in New York, so the family relocated in 1979, and he went into practice in Brooklyn.

After years of 12-hour days and grinding commutes, Lupin promised his wife he would retire at age 70. But as that date approached, grandson Daniel spotted an opportunity to grow his grandfather’s modest, portable practice and scale the patient base.

“I didn't know what Daniel was talking about,” Lupin says. “To my generation, 'scale' meant what we weighed patients on.”

Lupin agreed to postpone his retirement for six months while Daniel worked to expand the business, which they named Brooklyn Housecalls.

Daniel wanted to bring in new patients, so grandson and grandfather visited senior centers, assisted-living facilities and organizations that served the homebound. “We actually made a pretty good team,” says Lupin. “I call him our built-in people person. He was like a pitch man for Housecalls.”

Within a year, as Housecalls grew, Daniel's father Avi, an IT specialist, joined the team. “It's a perfect partnership,” says Avi. “I had a lot of experience building an organization and technology.” His specialized system helps the doctors reach patients quickly, with immediate access to their medical records and treatment. “Dan is much more outgoing and meets people in the industry. Dr. Lupin had the medical part of it.”

The result blends entrepreneurship with good medicine. Housecalls' medical assistants lay the groundwork – they drive and handle parking; coordinate medications; enter vital signs into a computer, perform EKGs and request at-home blood tests and x-rays – that permits doctors to spend more time examining patients and chatting with family members or caregivers. Visits spool out into conversations of 25 to 30 minutes. Doctors make about 12 house calls a day, and because all records are computerized, any Housecalls doctor can step in to see a patient, as needed. In practice, however, substitutions are rare: most patients see the same doctor 80 to 90 percent of the time.

Doctors are grateful to be freed from the administrative hassles. “I actually practice medicine,” says Gil Rotor, 55, who has worked for Housecalls for four years. “Private practice is difficult. You wind up having patients waiting for ages in the office. You can't spend enough time. You feel under stress.” He now does the work that inspired him to attend medical school. “We get thanked a lot. I didn't get thanked before.”

It’s better for patients, too. “It's more comfortable,” says the granddaughter of one of Rotor's patients in Canarsie, Brooklyn. “You know everybody. It's the continuity of care. They catch things faster.”

Lupin stayed on long past his self-imposed retirement deadline. Although he stopped seeing patients in 2011, he continues to serve as medical director, overseeing quality review, interviewing doctors, planning and conducting quarterly medical meetings with staff and consulting on medical questions. “To me it's a big thrill that we were able to do this within the family,” says Lupin. “I really wanted to make sure patients are cared for well. I created the concept, and Daniel and Avi perfected it.”

Housecalls has expanded from its humble Brooklyn roots to all five New York City boroughs and New Jersey. It's gone much further than Lupin or anyone ever imagined. “There's a legacy involved,” says Daniel, who calls the work his grandfather's “piece de resistance of a whole lifetime of helping people.”

For Lupin, the project continues to connect him to Lois. “Ten years fly by, but the minutes don’t,” he says. “Doing something that reminds me of her fills the vacuum. Hopefully, this will have a lasting impact. Everybody likes to feel they've accomplished something that will outlast them.”

Friday, June 17, 2016

18 Secrets for a Longer Life

Protect Your DNA

As you age, the ends of your chromosomes -- called telomeres -- become shorter. This makes you more likely to get sick. But lifestyle changes can boost an enzyme that increases their length. Plus, studies show diet and exercise can protect  them. The bottom line: Healthy habits may slow aging at the cellular level.

Play to Win

An 80-year study found that people who are conscientious -- meaning they pay attention to detail, think things through, and try to do what's right -- live longer. They do more things to protect their health and make choices that lead to stronger relationships and better careers.

Make Friends

Here's one more reason to be grateful for your friends -- they might help you live longer. Australian researchers found elderly social butterflies were less likely to die over a 10-year period compared to people with the fewest friends. A look at results from 148 more studies shows a clear link between social ties and a long life.

Choose Friends Wisely

Your friends’ habits rub off on you, so look for buddies with healthy lifestyles. Your chances of becoming obese go up if you have a friend who adds extra pounds. Smoking also spreads through social ties, but the good news is that quitting is also contagious.

Quit Smoking

It's no secret that giving up cigarettes can lengthen your days, but the amount of extra time may surprise you. A 50-year British study shows that quitting at age 30 could increase your lifespan by an entire decade. Kicking the habit at age 40, 50, or 60 can add 9, 6, or 3 years to your life, respectively.

Embrace the Siesta

A siesta is standard in many parts of the world, and now there's scientific evidence that napping may help you live longer. A study that involved 24,000 people suggests those who have a regular snooze are 37% less likely to die from heart disease than those who rarely steal a few winks. Researchers think naps might help your heart by keeping stress hormones down.

Follow a Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, olive oil, and fish. An analysis of 50 studies involving more than half a million people confirms the benefits. It can put a serious dent in your risk of metabolic syndrome -- a mix of obesity, high blood sugar, increased blood pressure, and other factors that make you more likely to get heart disease and diabetes.

Eat Like an Okinawan

The people of Okinawa, Japan, once lived longer than any other group on Earth. The region's traditional diet, which is high in green and yellow vegetables, and low in calories gets the credit. Plus, some Okinawans made a habit of eating only 80% of the food on their plate. Younger generations have dropped the old ways and aren't living as long as their ancestors.

Get Hitched

Married people tend to outlive their single friends. Researchers say it's due to the social and economic support that wedded bliss provides. While a current union offers the greatest benefit, people who are divorced or widowed have lower death rates than those who've never tied the knot.

Lose Weight

If you're overweight, slimming down can protect against diabetes, heart disease, and other conditions that take years off your life. Belly fat is bad for you, so focus on deflating that spare tire. A 5-year study of Hispanics and African-Americans suggests eating more fiber and exercising regularly are great ways to whittle your middle.

Keep Moving

The evidence is clear -- people who exercise live longer on average than those who don't. Dozens of studies show that regular physical activity lowers your risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, some forms of cancer, and depression. It may even help you stay mentally sharp in into old age. Ten-minute spurts are fine, as long as they add up to about 2.5 hours of moderate exercise per week.

Drink in Moderation

Heart disease is less common in moderate drinkers than in people who don't drink at all. On the other hand, too much alcohol pads the belly, boosts blood pressure, and can cause a host of other health problems. If you drink alcohol, the limit should be one drink a day for women and one or two for men. But if you don't drink, don't start. There are better ways to protect your heart!

Get Spiritual

People who attend religious services tend to live longer than those who don't. In a 12-year study of people over age 65, those who went more than once a week had higher levels of a key immune system protein than their peers who didn't. The strong social network that develops among people who worship together may contribute to your overall health.


Letting go of grudges has surprising physical health benefits. Chronic anger is linked to decreased lung function, heart disease, stroke, and other ailments. Forgiveness will reduce anxiety, lower blood pressure, and help you breathe more easily. These benefits tend to increase as you get older.

Use Safety Gear

Accidents are the fifth most common cause of death in the U.S., and the top cause of death for people ages 1 to 24. Wearing safety gear is a simple way to boost your odds of a long life. For example, seatbelts reduce the chances of death or serious injury in a car wreck by 50%. Most deaths from bike accidents are caused by head injuries, so always wear a helmet.

Make Sleep a Priority

Getting enough good quality sleep can lower your risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and mood disorders. It'll also help you recover from illness faster. Burning the midnight oil, on the other hand, is bad for you. Snooze for less than 5 hours a night and you might boost your chances of dying early, so make sleep a priority.

Manage Stress

You'll never completely avoid stress, but you can learn good ways to control it. Try yoga, meditation, or deep breathing. Even a few minutes a day can make a difference.

Maintain a Sense of Purpose

Hobbies and activities that have meaning for you may lengthen your life. Japanese researchers found men with a strong sense of purpose were less likely to die from stroke, heart disease, or other causes over a 13-year period compared to those who were less sure of themselves. Being clear about what you're doing and why can also lower your changes of getting Alzheimer’s disease.

How Meditation Helps Vets Soothe Wounds to the Soul

Lucy Westcott 

Midtown Manhattan in the early summer isn’t the ideal place to meditate.

In addition to the symphony of city sounds—the whirring of an air conditioning unit, staccato bursts of taxi horns and sirens—the primal groans of several-beers-deep soccer fans following the Euro 2016 competition weave in and out of our brains as we try to find some inner peace.
The man leading several dozen New Yorkers on a meditation tour is Tom Voss, an Iraq War veteran who was 19 years old when he was deployed to Mosul in 2004. He is also one of the subjects of Almost Sunrise, a documentary that follows him and fellow veteran Anthony Anderson on a five-month walk from Milwaukee to Los Angeles. After their experiences in Iraq, both men suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and they decided to walk after feeling they had exhausted all other treatment options. Anderson, for example, stopped taking prescribed antidepressants after they made him “as loopy as loopy can be.”
“It’s pretty clear that when someone says, ‘I’m going to drop what I’m doing and walk to California from Wisconsin,’ he’s dealing with something,” Emmet Cullen, who served alongside Voss in Iraq, says in the film.
Tom Voss, one of the Iraq veterans who walked 2,700 miles from Wisconsin to California to raise awareness of mental health challenges faced by many veterans, such as PTSD. 
Almost Sunrise explores the idea of moral injury, defined by the Veterans Affairs (VA) Department’s National Center for PTSD as “an act of serious transgression that leads to serious inner conflict because the experience is at odds with core ethical and moral beliefs.” That act could be “perpetrating, failing to prevent, bearing witness to, or learning about acts that transgress deeply held moral beliefs and expectations.” Moral injury, and the inner anguish it creates, differs from PTSD, which is triggered by a terrifying event.  
As Voss and Anderson—heavily bearded and with rucksacks strapped to their backs—walk through Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado and New Mexico, they are forced to confront themselves and what they did (or didn’t do) while in Iraq. After five months and 2,700 miles on the road, they arrive in California. Anderson, it seemed, had healed, while Voss had not: He says the walk “wasn’t the end of the healing process by any means.”

The suicide rate among veterans in the U.S. is considered by many to be a national shame. A VA report from 2012 found that 22 veterans commit suicide every day, and that their risk of suicide is greatest within three years after leaving the service. Meanwhile, about 300,000 service members suffer from PTSD or severe depression.
Before Voss embarked on the walk, he was experiencing nightmares and anxiety attacks associated with PTSD, and he would avoid large crowds and even July 4 celebrations—because of the fireworks. The VA prescribed him anti-depressants and Ambien, and Voss says he would often drink himself to sleep.
“It got to the point where I wanted to take my own life because I couldn’t stand myself, I couldn’t stand thinking about all these horrific things on a daily basis and all these moral dilemmas were slowly eating away at me,” he tellsNewsweek. “I was completely losing the will to live.”
After the walk, Voss attended a Power Breath meditation workshop run by Project Welcome Home Troops in Aspen, Colorado. The course, which has been attended by 1,300 troops since 2006, teaches breathing techniques and meditation to help veterans decrease their levels of anxiety, insomnia, anger and depression, and to release deeply embedded trauma. Leslye Moore, national director of Project Welcome Home Troops, says the workshop aid people who have been “trained to shut down their emotions” in order to make themselves effective soldiers.
“It’s helping to shift their perception. The shame, the guilt, the remorse—whatever they’re feeling as a result of moral injury,” says Moore. “They’re able to reframe what they did or what they experienced and begin to experience forgiveness for themselves, for the military, even for God.” The workshops also allow veterans to develop a sense of community that may have been lost during their time away. “Nobody can relate to them and they can’t relate to other people. They’re missing that camaraderie,” says Moore.
Tom Voss and Anthony Anderson during their trek across America.
The VA, says Moore, “is seeing that not everything works for everything individual.” Treatments involving drugs and therapy alone have differing efficacy rates and can be expensive: Between 2004 and 2009, the VA spent $1.4 billion on patients with PTSD, according to a 2012 government report. In the first year of VA treatment, the cost of treating patients with PTSD was $8,300 per person, nearly four times higher than someone without PTSD. For many veterans, including Voss and Andersen, alternative therapies are the only option.
“If we’re talking about the issue of moral injury, medication isn’t going to help that,” says Moore. “That’s an injury to the soul, and what’s going to help that is mind-body-soul, connection to community and helping process that experience and finding a way to reframe it so they can reenter their life.”
Research by Stanford University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison published in 2014 shows that breathing-based meditation—specifically Sudarshan Kriya yoga, which is used by Project Welcome Home Troops and was chosen for its effectiveness at reducing PTSD symptoms among tsunami survivors, according to the study—reduced PTSD symptoms in U.S. veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. The VA says complementary and alternative medicine such as meditation, acupuncture and yoga is most commonly used to help veterans manage stress and improve “general wellness,” and can be used to treat PTSD, depression, back pain and other ailments. However, a challenge remains in “sorting through popular claims about the effectiveness of therapies that have not been rigorously tested in formal research,” the VA says.
Voss now teaches veterans breathing techniques and meditation. He also believes that service members could benefit from using breath work and meditation while on overseas deployment.
“When you come back from a mission you can do these breathing techniques within a half hour to help manage the stress and bring a lot of mental clarity,” he says. “When they get back from deployment, these breathing techniques are beneficial to help decompress from the overall experience.”

The meditation workshop in New York was held after the final screening of Almost Sunrise at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival. It’s the second time the filmmakers have included meditation as an “immersive experience” at a festival; last month, the film played at the Mountainfilm festival in Telluride, Colorado, and actors Aaron Paul and Sophia Bush were among those who attend the breathing session.  
“One of my hopes of the film is that it will demystify meditation for the general public. This is not something that is strange, weird, Eastern,” says Michael Collins, the film’s director. “These are really effective, powerful techniques for everybody.”
Survivors of non-combat PTSD can also benefit from meditation and breathing techniques, says Moore. In addition, rape survivors and people recovering from traumatic injuries have attended a civilian version of the Power Breath workshop, and, when there are enough women, there is a course just for female veterans. For Voss, using breathing techniques to help heal his moral trauma was life-changing, resulting in “a tremendous shift, a complete shift.”
“I never thought I’d be this relaxed or happy,” says Voss. “I never thought this was possible.”
Almost Sunrise will show on the PBS documentary service POV in spring 2017. For veterans in crisis and those concerned about a veteran, help can be reached at the Veterans Crisis Line by dialing 1-800-273-8255 and pressing 1. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 1-800-273-8255. Both services have online chat options.

Cultivating Self-Awareness in Parents

By Diana Divecha

A new book argues that parents need to focus more on themselves and less on their children.

I felt for the preschooler in the park whose mother issued a steady stream of instructions: “Go down the slide, put your shoes on, be careful, stay out of the dirt.”
When he eyed me and my dog with curiosity, I responded. “Would you like to throw the ball for my dog? She’d love it!” I said.
He picked up the ball and gave it a few squeezes, but his mother had more instructions: “Don’t squeeze the ball, throw it. Throw it over there. Throw it hard.” There wasn’t much breathing room for the child to explore the ball, his throwing ability, the dog, or just a friendly interpersonal exchange. However well-intentioned, this “playtime” seemed more about the parent.
In her fourth book, The Awakened Family: A Revolution in Parenting, Shefali Tsabary argues that parenting should be focused more on developing parents’ maturity—and less on children themselves.
Children come into the world naturally “awake,” or aware of who they truly are, claims Tsabary. The problems that show up in children—anxiety, behavior problems, resistance—are not of their doing, but are really manifestations of problems with parents who are not sufficiently enlightened, awake, or conscious, according to Tsabary. She may have a point: If the mother of that preschooler continues to be so controlling, I can well imagine a future for them of conflict and resistance.  

Despite the word “revolution” in the title, the message of Awakened Family is not new—but it does bear repeating.
For at least a hundred years, clinicians, scholars, and even poets have called for a shift in the focus of parenting away from the children and onto the parents. The Swiss psychologist Alice Miller wrote extensively about the ways that parents who were physically or psychologically harmed as children unconsciously pass on their wounds. Scholars validated the intergenerational transmission of trauma, linking child abuse to later adult violence. Family therapists found that many of children’s behavior problems go away when parents alone receive counseling. And last month, at the annual meeting of the Association for Psychological Science, developmental scientist Alison Gopnik urged parents to nurture but not shape their children, and to back down from the pervasive supervision, control, and directiveness of today’s intense parenting.
Tsabary is not even talking about abuse or trauma. She has a more refined lens focusing particularly on parents’ desires to control their children, especially in the service of achievement, which can stoke parents’ egos but doesn’t necessarily support children’s emotional and mental needs. When children bend in response to their parents’ egos, Tsabary says, they become anxious and depressed. The key to conscious parenting is to become aware of the ego—the false construction of the self, who we believe and think we are, much of which is rooted in fear. Though Awakened Family contains some serious flaws, Tsabary’s message is one that many parents need to hear.

Loving parents, harmful beliefs

The first half of Awakened Family unpacks the most common harmful beliefs that cloud parents’ ability to see their children clearly: that parents assume themselves to be perfect, that parenting is not about the adult but about the child, that control is a kind of caring, or that preparing for the future is more important than the present moment. Parents project their own needs, dreams, and expectations onto children, yet they are also afraid of being rejected by their children. All of these parental beliefs and fears contaminate children’s ability to keep their spirits intact, to grow their authentic voices. Parenting, Tsabary says, is about managing parents’ dynamics—the children are okay.
Tsabary’s guidance is based on her clinical and personal experience and influenced by yoga philosophy and mindfulness traditions. When parents are “aware,” she says, their family naturally thrives. “Empowered with self-awareness, boundless in self-belief, liberated in self-expression, each feels free to explore, discover, and manifest their authentic being. This is the mandate of the awakened family.”
Tsabary holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Columbia University but her advice is not based on research or developmental science. While that doesn’t preclude it from being good advice, there are some direct conflicts that may contribute to inaccurate ideas about how children develop.
For example, Tsabary says that babies are born in a state of perfection and “awakeness,” when cognitive research shows that babies have predispositions and biases—for better or worse—and the way the predispositions manifest depends a lot on the care they encounter. And in her enthusiasm, Tsabary implies that parenting involves only a focus on growing one’s own maturity, to the exclusion of taking into account children’s developmental processes, unique temperamental differences, or the “co-constructive” nature of development that is the product of the unique interaction among multiple layers of influences, from economy and culture to genes. And she out-Rousseaus Rousseau in her romantic vision of children: In an awakened family, “[children] will naturally develop a self-discipline.” This is, in a word, unlikely.
Tsabary’s language assumes a familiarity with Eastern-leaning philosophies: Phrases like “grounded in your own center,” “awakening in the present moment,” “deepest self,” and “usher our children into their own self-realization” are used liberally but not defined.
Unfortunately, she also contradicts herself: When explaining how parents can resolve their fears, projections, and ego-based control, she first advises that “We don’t have to go way back into our childhood to excavate the roots of our fear,” but instead can watch it in the present moment—surely a relief to many parents. Yet only a few pages later, Tsabary cautions that “The only way we can ultimately free our children from our dependency is if we have freed ourselves from our parents.” In a chapter titled “How the Culture Sets Up Parents to Fail,” there is no actual mention of cultural dynamics. And she does not answer questions a novice parent might raise, in reaction to her philosophy, such as, “What is the line between supporting a child’s authentic self and coddling them? What about teaching children actual skills?”

Transformative tools

Despite these editorial flaws, the message of the book is vitally important and may contribute to advancing the human rights of children. Tsabary makes some bold and much-needed points:
  • Traditional parenting, she says, has sanctioned the “unbridled use of parental power.” Punishments, time-outs, threats, shaming, and silencing aren’t effective but are hallmarks of “lazy and rote parenting.” “I am dead set against children being ostracized to naughty corners, stools, or steps,” Tsabary writes.
  • Just because a parent gets triggered, it doesn’t mean that a child is wrong, and it doesn’t confer the legitimacy of an adult to “fix” a child.
  • Most parenting books teach how to manipulate children out of feeling what they’re feeling; to stop a behavior rather than to teach how to negotiate feelings in constructive ways.
Tsabary encourages parents to move away from disciplinary techniques to creating healthy boundaries—something that requires an examination of the adult’s psychology. Children thrive within a predictable structure, she says, but often parents’ own relationship to limits is “wishy-washy.” It is our ability to set good limits, structure, and expectations for our children that fosters their sense of discipline.
One important tool in this transformation is mindfulness: At risk of over-promising, she says, when we are alert to the present moment, the ego and all its attachments, ideas and agendas fall away. “We witness, engage, act, let go.”
The second transformative tool is taking five minutes of silence, or inserting a pause between being triggered and formulating a response. This is consistent with advice coming from emotional intelligence (the “meta-moment”) as well as neuroscience, which shows that when we’re triggered, it takes time for the thinking part of our brain to kick back in. Taking five minutes of silence, Tsabary says, allows “space for the wisest action to enter our awareness.”
In the early part of the twentieth century, Kahlil Gibran wrote, “Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself…You may give them your love but not your thoughts, for they have their own thoughts.” Tsabary’s message may not be new, but her ability to amplify it is. She is a loquacious, telegenic force that is saturating new media and is a favorite of Oprah.
The real revolution, though, may lie in transforming such words into action. How can we make the change that Tsabary and others are talking about for all adults, not just parents but also educators, who have children’s waking attention for at least as much time as parents do? Now that will take an army.