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What is a Benefit Mindset, and Why Do I Need One?

by added on 3 December 2018, Comments Off on What is a Benefit Mindset, and Why Do I Need One? , posted in Blog

By Cecile Culp Mielenz, Ph.D., Licensed Mental Health Counselor
Director, Woodinville Family Preschool

The first keynote of the first day of the Learning and the Brain conference was about to begin, and I looked forward to learning about recent research and its application to parent and child education.  The speaker, Dr. Scott Barry Kaufman of Barnard College at Columbia University, began his presentation by telling us that Abraham Maslow, in the last years of his life, believed that “self-actualization is not enough.”  I couldn’t believe it!  Haven’t I not only been taught but also have taught others about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs? Haven’t psychology classes for decades presented students with the pyramid that illustrates physiological needs, safety, love and belonging, esteem, and self-actualization?  What was Dr. Kaufman talking about?  I was about to find out.

Dr. Kaufman, it turns out, is fascinated with Abraham Maslow and has read all of Maslow’s personal journals as well as over 40,000 documents related to Maslow and his theories.  No pyramid appears in any of them!  The pyramid is apparently “an invention of psychology professors to assist students with learning about the Hierarchy of Needs theory.”  This was all big news to me, and I was sitting on the edge of my seat wanting to learn more.

If the goal is not self-actualization, what is it?

Minutes before he passed away from a heart attack, Maslow was journaling that self-actualization is not enough: “the good of other people must be invoked, as well as the good for oneself.”  This means that it’s not enough just to be concerned with our own actualization or personal development.  We also need to develop transpersonal values, those which go beyond ourselves.  Dr. Kaufman says that developing the following values can lead to transcendence:

  • Safety
  • Connection
  • Self-esteem
  • Exploration
  • Love
  • Purpose

At this point in Dr. Kaufman’s lecture, my mind was racing thinking about the parent education that we teach.  Are these the values that our parents see in our words and actions?  Are these the values that we prioritize in our children’s development?

Much has been written in recent years about helping our children to prioritize a growth mindset over a fixed mindset.  Although many speakers at the conference acknowledged that growth mindset is a good thing, the latest thinking is that we want to go beyond the focus on the individual and instill in ourselves and our children a benefit mindset.  This means that we seek to fulfill our own potential in a way that promotes collective wellbeing.

 

Why is it important in my parenting to have a Benefit Mindset?

How can we as parents help our children to gain a benefit mindset?  Certainly, we love our children, but what else do we need to be thinking about in our parenting?  Dr. Kaufman cites that love for our children should manifest as:

·        Treating people as ends rather than as means

·        Authentic responding

·        Universal acceptance of others

·        Seeing the best in others

·        Valuing the dignity and worth of each individual

·        Forgiveness

·        Trust

·        Healthy self-love

How well do we demonstrate these values?  How often do we respond to our children’s behavior from the place of these transcendent values within ourselves?  If our goal is not only to model transpersonal values but also to teach them to our children, we must first be aware of our own growth and development.

Dr. Kaufman and his colleagues have developed the Characteristics of Self-Actualization Scale, which you can take online here.  The CSAS takes only a few minutes and clarifies for you the transcendent values that you exhibit as well as the values to which you may want to devote more effort.  My hunch is that your children may mirror your results to a large degree.  The CSAS can give you personal information to inform your parenting!

How does Benefit Mindset apply to Woodinville Family Preschool?

The first keynote of the first day of the Learning and the Brain conference was about to begin, and I looked forward to learning about recent research and its application to parent and child education.  The speaker, Dr. Scott Barry Kaufman of Barnard College at Columbia University, began his presentation by telling us that Abraham Maslow, in the last years of his life, believed that “self-actualization is not enough.”  I couldn’t believe it!  Haven’t I not only been taught but also have taught others about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs? Haven’t psychology classes for decades presented students with the pyramid that illustrates physiological needs, safety, love and belonging, esteem, and self-actualization?  What was Dr. Kaufman talking about?  I was about to find out.

Dr. Kaufman, it turns out, is fascinated with Abraham Maslow and has read all of Maslow’s personal journals as well as over 40,000 documents related to Maslow and his theories.  No pyramid appears in any of them!  The pyramid is apparently “an invention of psychology professors to assist students with learning about the Hierarchy of Needs theory.”  This was all big news to me, and I was sitting on the edge of my seat wanting to learn more.

If the goal is not self-actualization, what is it?

Minutes before he passed away from a heart attack, Maslow was journaling that self-actualization is not enough: “the good of other people must be invoked, as well as the good for oneself.”  This means that it’s not enough just to be concerned with our own actualization or personal development.  We also need to develop transpersonal values, those which go beyond ourselves.  Dr. Kaufman says that developing the following values can lead to transcendence:

  • Safety
  • Connection
  • Self-esteem
  • Exploration
  • Love
  • Purpose

At this point in Dr. Kaufman’s lecture, my mind was racing thinking about the parent education that we teach.  Are these the values that our parents see in our words and actions?  Are these the values that we prioritize in our children’s development?

Much has been written in recent years about helping our children to prioritize a growth mindset over a fixed mindset.  Although many speakers at the conference acknowledged that growth mindset is a good thing, the latest thinking is that we want to go beyond the focus on the individual and instill in ourselves and our children a benefit mindset.  This means that we seek to fulfill our own potential in a way that promotes collective wellbeing.

Why is it important in my parenting to have a Benefit Mindset?

How can we as parents help our children to gain a benefit mindset?  Certainly, we love our children, but what else do we need to be thinking about in our parenting?  Dr. Kaufman cites that love for our children should manifest as:

·        Treating people as ends rather than as means

·        Authentic responding

·        Universal acceptance of others

·        Seeing the best in others

·        Valuing the dignity and worth of each individual

·        Forgiveness

·        Trust

·        Healthy self-love

How well do we demonstrate these values?  How often do we respond to our children’s behavior from the place of these transcendent values within ourselves?  If our goal is not only to model transpersonal values but also to teach them to our children, we must first be aware of our own growth and development.

Dr. Kaufman and his colleagues have developed the Characteristics of Self-Actualization Scale, which you can take online here.  The CSAS takes only a few minutes and clarifies for you the transcendent values that you exhibit as well as the values to which you may want to devote more effort.  My hunch is that your children may mirror your results to a large degree.  The CSAS can give you personal information to inform your parenting!

 

How does Benefit Mindset apply to Woodinville Family Preschool?

As I reflected on what I want to share with you from the Learning and the Brain Conference, I realized yet again the amazing community that is Woodinville Family Preschool.  We are all here for the higher purpose of becoming parents who develop kind and capable children.  We work together as “everyday leaders” to create this physical, social, and emotional space for ourselves and our children.  We already work toward a benefit mindset, even without knowing the terminology.  A paragraph from the Benefit Mindset website summarizes what I see happening every day in this school:

A benefit mindset is symbolized by the everyday leader. We believe in creating a good society and healthy ecosystems through our everyday interactions. We are compassionate presences, trustworthy companions and aware contributors. We are the open-minded and open-hearted ones that show up, see what is needed and take wise action.

The families in our program already exhibit a number of aspects of a benefit mindset. As we embark on that time of year when many of us will be celebrating holidays that encompass transcendent values, I invite you to join me in creating time to reflect.  After taking the online CSAS, I learned of specific steps I can take to increase my benefit mindset.  My hope is that you, too, can use the CSAS information to inform your own development as well as your parenting practices.  As we continue to adopt and refine transcendent values, our whole community becomes stronger.  I very much value and appreciate being a part of this process with each of you as you continue your parenting journey!

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