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15 Things You’re Not Taught In School That Determine Your Success

15 Things You’re Not Taught In School That Determine Your Success

School teaches you many of the fundamental things you’ll need a basic grip on in order to be a genuine success during your life, including math, English, science, discipline, and socializing, to name a few. But not everything that’s worth knowing is chalked up on blackboards. At least, not yet.

Listed here are 15 essential life skills that determine your success yet aren’t part of a typical school curriculum, although they really ought to be.

1. Spotting a Scam

As a rule, schools don’t tend to teach children about how to spot the signs of a swindler, and getting fleeced at least once is currently the only way to learn about the incredible amount of scams that plague the world. Knowing a dodgy deal when you see one is something that comes in handy in today’s world, especially in a day and age in which so many are able to hide behind the shifting face of the internet. Teaching students to spot a scam can allow them to go a long way in life.

2. Negotiation

In most classrooms, there’s very little room for negotiation. Unless the teacher is having a particularly good day and decides to meet children halfway in terms of what the deadlines for that particular lesson might be, any attempt by a student to get a better deal for themselves is met by the teacher’s furrowed brow and an extended finger pointing towards the door. It’s a shame, really, since when you enter the big, bad world of adulthood, being able to negotiate is vital in order to help get you out of some seriously sticky situations. Negotiation strategies come particularly in handy in the world of business, and teaching children how to master this skill from a young age can end up having all kinds of benefits in later life.

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3. Self-defense

It’s never nice to think about, but that doesn’t stop the fact that there are depressingly high numbers of dangerous people out there in the world who one day might target you personally for a number of reasons. To stay safe, it’s important to learn the very basics of self-defense – both in terms of being able to protect yourself through the art of speech as well as physically, if it ever comes down to it. Self-defense is an integral part of life, and knowing how to shelter yourself from the evils of the world can boost your confidence, keep you happy, and allow you to live a highly successful life. 

4. Mental Health

Occasionally, schools will host workshops and activity days where various society health representatives will totter from classroom to classroom, but for the most part, the aspect of mental health is left entirely up to the school’s counsellor, if they have one. For the most part, today’s youth are largely kept in the dark about the specifics of mental health, with issues like depression being very poorly understood. Raging teenage hormones are not the same as somebody who’s dealing with depression, and high-quality mental health education is needed in every school in order to help everyone learn about the more troubling conditions of the mind.

5. Socialising & Networking

Managing your internet profile is about so much more than having a high number of “likes” on Facebook these days. It can be the difference between being offered a terrific job opportunity and facing an endless string of rejections. Keeping your appearance online professional and in check will make potential employers recognise your maturity as a person, and schools really ought to widely teach the art and discipline behind crafting your very own unique internet identity.

6. Emergencies & First Aid

Basic first aid ought to be taught at regular intervals in every school at every age. Science is consistently finding new ways to medically treat people, and some of the old breathing assistance techniques that you saw on television back when you were a kid are now considered archaic and even dangerous. Frequent, up-to-the-minute emergency reaction and first aid teaching in schools can go a long way to helping someone out if a serious situation occurs in the future.

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7. Household Repairs

As you get older, you’ll come to realise the absolute necessity of being able to perform basic household repairs. There are few worse feelings on earth than an appliance breaking down in your home and you standing ashen-faced with no idea how to fix it. A few basic tutorials in ordinary household maintenance could prove to be enormously expedient when it comes to moving into a first home.

8. Self-assessment

Taking a long, hard look at yourself and acknowledging what you’re truly good at, as well as what you are not so good at, is probably one of the most challenging aspects of life. Few people can truly do it. It takes practice, and being able to come to terms with what you need to improve on can make you a much better person in all aspects of your life.

9. Balance

School rightly encourages you to work hard at improving your academic performance, but what it doesn’t truly teach is the ability to balance your life so that you achieve high levels of gratification in every aspect – from having quiet family time, to working hard, to partaking in joyful evenings with your friends. Achieving a great sense of balance is paramount in order to live a happy, heathy life. Managing your time well will allow you to make sure the things that ought to come first do indeed come first, and not at the expense of anything else.

10. Cooking

There’s a reason why so many university students find themselves living on budget noodles for the entirety of their degree years. Money of course is a factor, but it’s also due to the fact that very few young adults have any real experience cooking by the time they move into college dorms. Serving up a mouth-watering meal isn’t just an art that can pave the way for success for an aspiring chef, either. Cooking is a skill that can impress friends, bosses, dates, and perhaps most importantly, keep you in good health. Cooking classes in schools do exist, of course, but putting a little emphasis on some tasty, healthy recipes could really help turn young children into terrific little cooks by the time they fly out of the nest. 

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11. Coping with Harsh Realities

Simply put: life isn’t fair. If you expect it to be, you’re going to be disappointed. Sometimes things will go your way, and on other occasions they won’t. It’s enough to make you want to claw your hair out, but by learning to cope with harsh realities, you’ll be able to live happily without succumbing to the pangs of stress that life can so cruelly impose upon you.

12. Money Isn’t Everything

It’s terrific to have a well-paying job, a big house, and a glossy car on your driveway. We know this because this is what school facilities drum into our heads from day one. It’s a simple equation: Working hard at school = Better grades = Better prospects = More money. But money isn’t happiness. On the contrary, cash can actually be toxic if handled in the wrong way and has the ability bring out the worst in people who are unable to separate it from joy. Wealth and happiness are two very different things, and schools ought to make a conscious effort to instil this in pupils’ heads before they depart from lower education.

13. Learning from Failure

Some teachers are absolutely exceptional at handling children who struggle to deal with even the simplest tasks. But learning from failure isn’t really what school is about. No, school is about doing enough so you don’t fail in the first place. A fine lesson in itself, but the fact is that at some point in their lives, everybody will fail.

But no failure is a catastrophe if you learn from it. Understanding what went wrong and why something didn’t turn out as planned can help you to curb your lifestyle so that it never happens again. It can and will turn you into a stronger, more successful person.

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14. Forgiveness

It can be tricky to say that you forgive somebody who has let you down. It’s even more difficult to actually mean it. Learning how to let the silly things go and move on with your life may be something that’s discussed in specific counselling sessions with people who have gotten themselves into extremely problematic situations, but otherwise, the act of forgiveness isn’t something that’s currently taught in schools across the world. It’s a process that requires patience and understanding. It puts you into someone else’s shoes, helps you to understand other people, and makes you a more successful person in life.

15. Expect the Unexpected

Perhaps it’s a little tough to teach this, but it’s a rule that everyone ought to live by in order to be a successful person. The world is an utterly unpredictable place. It’s a scary thought, but at the same time it’s also kind of wonderful, if you’re prepared for it. Putting yourself in the mindset that absolutely anything might be lying around the corner in wait can actively improve your personality and help you to deal with life when times get a little tough.

Featured photo credit: thecommentator.com via thecommentator.com

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Gareth Lloyd

Freelance Writer

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Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

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