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4 Life Lessons To Take Away From Girl Scouts

4 Life Lessons To Take Away From Girl Scouts

Most girls join the Girl Scout for the friendship or for the cool uniforms. I was never hooked on the green vests with lots of badges, but my sister could never get enough of them. She was mesmerized by the squad goals, the badges and the cookies.

At 10 years, she joined the Girl Scouts for the first time and she managed to stick to them way longer than any of her friends, much to our parents and friends astonishment. Now, as an adult, she always seems to be more prepared for certain situations than I am.

Apparently, her years in the Girl Scouts taught her more than how to tie a knot.

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1. Women can do everything they set their minds on

Women are incredible! This is one of the lessons my sis seems to be taking away from the Girl Scout. Her leaders were never those boring, crazy old ladies who took them to the woods. In fact, my sister’s bunch never camped in the woods. They did camp in the backyard of their leader, who took this as an opportunity to teach the little ladies about managing a budget, getting help when they have an unwanted pregnancy and how to act when you have an eating disorder.

Those women, the scout leaders, managed to take their time to teach a group of girls about real life, while they were leading their own busy lives. One of the leaders had two small kids she was raising alone and a full-time job. And she was a leader for the Girl Scouts!

Over time, my sister saw that women are not the “weaker sex”, they are the “stronger” ones. They are able to manage everything, from a career to parenthood and still look sexy. By the way, one of the leaders always wore high heels and red lipstick! Always!

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2. Value the person, not her bank account or her race

This one is big and it kinda makes me regret not being a Girl Scout. In my sister’s group, there were girls from all types of families and with different backgrounds. While their leaders were teaching them how to use a badge holder and take pride in wearing badges – pretty useful for a future corporate worker – the girls were crafting lanyards and sharing personal stories.

Rich and poor, Caucasian, Latina or African American girls were having fun and learning how to join their forces to be a strong group. They also learned how to cut racism from the root and how to act when someone bullies a person. Even now, in adulthood, my sister and most of her fellow scouts are still friends. They still help each other during tough times and they gather for no reason to party together.

3. Work hard for your dreams

Girl Scouts are taught to be resourceful and this is very important in adult life. The scout leaders always push the girls to work hard for their own dreams.

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If one door is being closed, work on opening another one. Always have a backup plan. Being a Girl Scout also teaches the little ladies to persevere: they are often bullied for their silly songs and events, but this teaches them to fight for what they love and the ideas they believe in. Again, a great asset in adult life.

4. Life is meant to be enjoyed

When all your other friends are dating and drinking, being a scout is not going to make you popular. But it’s going to teach you that life is meant to be enjoyed and that drinking and boys are not the only ways to have fun.

Yes, scouts are goofy, but they do know how to party without alcohol. They know how to make someone smile and they know a good laugh can make a person feel better about life.

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Featured photo credit: Peter and Joyce Grace via flickr.com

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Last Updated on October 23, 2018

Science Says Knitting Makes Humans Warmer And Happier, Mentally

Science Says Knitting Makes Humans Warmer And Happier, Mentally

My mother was a great knitter and produced some wonderful garments such as Aran sweaters which were extremely fashionable when I was young. She also knitted while my father drove, which caused great amusement. I often wondered why she did that but I think I know the answer now.

Knitting is good for your mental health, according to some research studies. The Washington Post mentions a 2013 survey of about 3,500 knitters who were asked how they felt after a knitting session. Over 80% of them said they definitely felt happier. It is not a totally female occupation as more and more men take it up to get the same benefits. Harry Styles (One Direction) enjoys knitting. So does Russell Crowe although he does it to help him with anger management!

The Neural Knitwork Project

In Australia, Neural Knitworks was started to encourage people to knit and also become aware of neuroscience and mental health issues. Knit-ins were organized but garments were not the only things created. The knitters produced handmade neurons (1,665 of them!) to make a giant brain. The 2015 project will make more neural knitted networks (neural knitworks) and they will be visible online. You can see some more examples of woolly neurons on the Neural Knitworks Facebook page.

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While people knitted, crocheted and crafted yarn, they listened to experts talking about mental health issues such as addiction, dementia, depression, and how neurons work.

The knitting and neural connection

The human brain has about 80 billion neurons. Learning new skills, social interaction, and physical activity all help to forge neural connections which keep the brain healthy and active. They are creating networks to control movement and make memories. The knitters learn that as they create the woollen neurons, their own neurons are forming new pathways in their brains. Their creations are mimicking the processes in their brains to a certain extent. At the same time, their brains are registering new and interesting information as they learn interesting facts about the brain and how it works. I love the knitworks and networks pun. What a brilliant idea!

More mental health benefits from knitting

Betsan Corkhill is a physiotherapist and has published some results of completed studies on her website, appropriately named Stitchlinks. She conducted some experiments herself and found that knitting was really helpful in reducing panic and anxiety attacks.

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“You are using up an awful lot of brain capacity to perform a coordinated series of movements. The more capacity you take up by being involved in a complex task, the less capacity you have for bad thoughts.”- Betsan Corkhill

Knitters feel happier and in a better mood

Ann Futterman-Collier, Well Being Lab at Northern Arizona University, is very interested in how textile therapy (sewing, knitting, weaving and lace-making) can play an important role in mood repair and in lifting depressive states.

She researched 60 women and divided them into three different groups to do some writing, meditating and work with textiles. She monitored their heartbeat, blood pressure and saliva production. The women in the textiles group had the best results when their mood was assessed afterwards. They were in a better mood and had managed to reduce their negative thoughts better than those in the writing and meditation groups.

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“People who were given the task to make something actually had less of an inflammatory response in the face of a ‘stressor’.” – Dr. Futterman Collier

The dopamine effect on our happiness

Our brains produce a chemical called dopamine. This helps us to feel happy, more motivated, and assists also with focus and concentration. We get a boost of dopamine after sex, food, exercise, sleep, and creative activities.

There are medications to increase dopamine but there are lots of ways we can do it naturally. Textile therapy and crafting are the easiest and cheapest. We can create something and then admire it. In addition, this allows for a little bit of praise and congratulations. Although this is likely not your goal, all these can boost our dopamine and we just feel happier and more fulfilled. These are essential in facing new challenges and coping with disappointment in life.

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“Sometimes, people come up to me when I am knitting and they say things like, “Oh, I wish I could knit, but I’m just not the kind of person who can sit and waste time like that.” How can knitting be wasting time? First, I never just knit; I knit and think, knit and listen, knit and watch. Second, you aren’t wasting time if you get a useful or beautiful object at the end of it.” – Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, At Knit’s End: Meditations for Women Who Knit Too Much.

If you thought knitting and textiles were for old ladies, think again!

Featured photo credit: DSC_0012/Mary-Frances Main via flickr.com

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