Bear with me. It sounds complicated, but really, it’s not.

My e-friend Bernadette Noll, who is friends of friends of my friend living in Munich, is the co-founder of the Slow Family Movement, the idea of investing time in our families instead of the activities that keep us away from them.  It is incredibly encouraging that mainstream media outlets such as yesterday’s USAToday have embraced the idea of the power of slow in so many areas of our lives.

And here’s the thing. It works.

This morning our kids were calm, centered and ready for their school week. It wasn’t only because we opted to do virtually nothing this weekend. It wasn’t only because my husband and I joined them in doing, well, nothing. It was also because the kids are firmly rooted in the understanding that we want to be with them whilst doing nothing. They built a fort out of chair and blankets, then slept under them at night. They played horse on their bikes and gathered walnuts that had fallen from our tree in the yard. They were happy just being. And it was beautiful to watch.

At the risk of sounding pious (and I really don’t mean to), you reap what you sow. And lately I’m beginning to understand what Bernadette Noll means when she says less is more for families too.

I spend a lot of time with my kids. Sometimes toooooo much time, if you know what I mean. But the truth is I wouldn’t change a thing. Their time at home is limited to a handful of years. That’s all we have before the comings and goings and laundry drop-offs begin. It is a precious time of instilling how valuable they are as human beings. If we didn’t invest time in them, what would they think about themselves and the world they inhabit? I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be the one to show them the way than to leave it to chance…or television and YouTube.

Investing in your relationships, whether with children or other loved ones, is the best insurance policy life can give you. It is time well-spent, or in the eyes of Bernadette and myself, invested ~ for the future is tomorrow’s present and your time is a present too.

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The power of slow is the antidote for information overload. Snap off your TweetDeck, enjoy a drink on the porch, savor the setting sun. Social networking can become an obsession if you let it. It can also be a useful tool, if you know how to use it (more in an upcoming public radio interview I promise to link here).

twitterAccording to a recent study by the University of University of Southern California as reported on CNN**, Twitter, and other sites with instantaneous feeds, have been found to desensitize people. Researchers fear it will lead to moral depravity as the younger generation is unable to switch on its ‘moral compass’ fast enough. While it sounds like a bit of a stretch, I agree with this researcher’s thoughts about speed:

“If things are happening too fast, you may not ever fully experience emotions about other people’s psychological states and that would have implications for your morality,” said researcher Mary Helen Immordino-Yang.

So switch off your laptop and go for a run with your kids. Enjoy the offline life when you can…and the power of slow!

**Editor’s Note: Ironically, I originally found this article on Twitter!

Abundant Thinking

January 10, 2009

february-2009In the February 2009 issue of Success magazine, publisher and editorial director, Darren Hardy, shares his top eight tips for fostering abundant thinking in children.

I find his list fascinating on three accounts: one, Success is a business magazine ; two, a business magazine publisher, who is a self-proclaimed workaholic and perhaps father himself, is offering parenting advice; and, three, a magazine pitched me, a blogger, a story. It shows how much our world is changing — for the better. Work and life are coming into equilibrium in the form of such publications that celebrate the wholeness of life. We are all people, whether our name is Barack Obama, Colin Powell or Christine Hohlbaum. Feel the power of slow move through every nook and cranny. Kudos to Success and their connection to what matters most!

Darren Hardy suggests:

8 Strategies for Building Abundance Attitude in Your Kids

• Reward Responsibly – Don’t give rewards for promised future behavior.  Reward when the goal is accomplished.  Acknowledge the accomplishment and celebrate it.

• Clarity – Be open about your financial state.  Work as a family toward saving for a big item like a dream vacation.  Adopt a family mission statement. 

• Everything is a Teaching Tool – Use economic and financial news, as well as the success stories of business owners as conversation starters or as talking points around particular issues.  Inspire your kids by highlighting positive entrepreneurial stories. 

• Foster Support – You’re not necessarily the dominant adviser to your children.  Kids need support, mentorship and encouragement from coaches, teachers and other influential people.  Find out who your child’s favorites are and encourage their support of your child’s endeavors. 

• Encourage Networking and Innovation – Connect your children to people who have passion for what they do that’s of interest to your child.  Encourage them to set high goals for themselves even if they don’t reach them.

• Learn Business – The greatest teacher and confidence builder is to learn by doing.  Encourage your child to take a part-time job, volunteer or start their own business.  Programs like Youthpreneur give kids business skills whether for their own for-profit business or fundraising.

• Giving Back – Show your children the power of sharing.  Volunteering time and resources goes a long way toward teaching an abundant outlook by giving to the less fortunate.

• Gratitude Attitude – Appreciate the things you have.  Teach your children to take stock of and appreciate the intangibles like relationships, nature, shared experiences and things that don’t cost money.