Anyone who has been on the planet for a while is familiar with Goldie Hawn the award-winning actress. Back in the late 60’s and early 70’s Goldie had us rolling on the floor in Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In. Later, she graced the big screen in movies including, Private Benjamin, Death Becomes Her and The First Wives Club (just to name a few). Some of you may know that she has directed and produced films as well. What you may not know about her, is perhaps her most exciting focus of work as an advocate for children.
For more than a decade Ms. Hawn has dedicated herself to the advocacy of children by helping teachers better prepare young minds for learning. This is accomplished by nurturing resilience, hopefulness, and engendering optimism. In 2005, The Hawn Foundation, a non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation, was created to promote children’s academic success in school and in life through social and emotional learning. The Foundation pursues Goldie Hawn’s vision of nurturing happiness, joy and empathy in children and the adults in their lives. The Hawn Foundation fulfills its mission through advocacy, educational programming, and sponsored research.
In her new book, 10 Mindful Minutes: Giving Our Children—and Ourselves—the Social and Emotional Skills to Reduce Stress and Anxiety for Healthier, Happier Lives, Goldie Hawn, with Wendy Holden presents elements of the MindUp™ program that parents can use in daily life with kids. “Mindfulness helps children develop social and emotional intelligence, resulting in greater self-awareness, less stress, and higher levels of happiness and empathy,” says Goldie.
She explains how to help children use mindful breathing and focused attention to become more reflective and self aware; to gain greater emotional control. In “Reflections” throughout the text, Hawn looks back on her own childhood and shares her personal experiences as a mother and grandmother. Goldie Hawn’s gentle, heartfelt approach to mothering and her mission to help children develop happier, healthier lives will be both useful and inspiring for parents. Adults without children may also benefit from the exercises.
Goldie Hawn’s 10 Mindful Minutes has been recognized as a 2011 finalist in the Books for a Better Life Award (Childcare and Parenting division), sponsored by New York City-Southern New York National Association of Multiple Sclerosis Society.
Truly Alive: How does mindfulness encourage
optimism and increase happiness?
Goldie Hawn:Some people are addicted to the stories they tell themselves, such as “I’m not a happy person.” A few years ago, while visiting a school in Vancouver, B.C., I remember seeing a child having a breakdown in a classroom. She was crying, and crying, and crying. The teacher took her outside into the hallway and said, “Remember the picture you drew of yourself happy?” Yes, she answered. The teacher guided her back inside the classroom to look at her smiling picture. She looked at her artwork, and stopped crying. The teacher said, “Now, isn’t that a happier girl?” She answered, “Yes, I am a happy person.” Gathering her emotion, she looked up at the teacher and said, “I feel better now.”
She then joined her table with her classmates. She changed the story about herself. It’s through this mindfulness that the child was able to have the capacity to create and build up a more optimistic view. And we all have that capacity. We can move our set point of happiness. One of the big lessons in this book deals with savoring happiness, which thus increases happiness.
TA: Can you tell our readers about the MindUp™ Program and what the overall response has been?
GH: Back in 2003, I created The Hawn Foundation to help kids learn how to better manage their emotions, because I felt we were heading into difficult times and I was very concerned.
You couldn’t help noting things like high dropout rates in schools, increasing numbers of kids being put on medications, and depression and suicide rates on the rise. It felt as if there was an overall malaise and a lack of hope and happiness among kids and adolescents. (In fact, one study done by UNICEF in 2007 showed that children in the United States are the second least happy kids in the world, after those in the United Kingdom.) To start addressing some of these problems, a group of scientists, researchers, and educators working under the auspices of the Foundation created a cross-disciplinary curriculum called MindUp™ Children had never really been educated about what was going on in their heads and the ways in which emotions, thoughts, and behaviors link together in the brain.
MindUp™ was designed to show them how their brains work, and in the process teach them basic stress and anxiety reduction, how to manage their emotions and behavior more effectively, and how to improve their focus and concentrate on things for longer periods of time, and give them tools to develop greater empathy for others, be more optimistic, and savor happiness.
TA: You make the point, “Children with strong, secure attachment tend to grow up with good self-esteem.” What is the best way to encourage secure attachment?
GH: The best way to encourage secure attachment is to create trusting and lasting relationships.
If you tend to play with your children more and react more quickly to their needs, it creates an environment for secure attachment to blossom. Children then become more empathetic, less disruptive during later stages of childhood, grow up with good self-esteem, and are comfortable sharing feelings with friends and partners, and seek out social support.
TA: Why do we become addicted to digital media and how does this affect memory and brain function?
GH: Now more than ever we need to return to our humanistic values. Today communications and even friendship have gone online. And yet as much as technology connects us, the reality is that it’s not connecting us at all. Human beings need one another. I get more of a lift talking to my girlfriend over coffee than I do instant-messaging her. We are by nature social animals, and sharing intimacy with friends and family has tremendous emotional and physical benefits.
Also, children are not exercising. We have a real issue with kids sitting too long in front of their TVs, computers, and video games. They’re not going outside and playing baseball or football or just plain running around.
And yet doing so is vitally important to their well-being. For example the neurotransmitter dopamine, which helps with focus and memory, and makes us feel good, and is particularly relevant to social and emotional learning, is created in the brain. This can happen when we participate in sports; when we move around or dance; when we’re sharing, laughing, and being with others. It’s unrealistic to think we’re ever going to leave behind the world of computers, PDAs, and PlayStation.
Therefore it’s increasingly important to be mindful of the impact technology has on us, and to understand the choices we can make in dealing with that impact.
TA: In the book, you coined a phrase called “rubber time”. Please describe that for us.
GH: Rubber Time is what I feel most of us have experienced, and it is when you are so caught up in the moment doing something so emotionally stimulating that you lose all track of time. We tend to forget to look at our watches or check our electronic message systems – and we don’t even care.
TA: In reading this book, it’s easy to understand the implications and see how these processes can transform adult lives as well as the lives of our children. Have you received feedback in this regard?
GH: Yes! Once we began implementing the program in schools, parents started telling us that they, too, wanted to learn how to be less reactive and more mindful in order to help their children and themselves. Parents were asking, “Is there a book for us?” and that led me to write this book. By helping parents and children, my life has become a more fulfilling experience by bringing awareness to this important issue.
TA: Would you like our readers to know about anything else?
GH: I want your readers to see that there are tools, based on scientific evidence that they can use to access a better state of being for themselves and their kids. Hopefully they’ll start using them. Perhaps one of the most important things to take away from 10 Mindful Minutes is that we all have the ability to change.
As practical as it is inspiring, 10 Mindful Minutes embodies the essence of the MindUp Program and its incredible success. With its simple techniques like mindful breathing, sensing and thinking, combined with easy-to-follow steps, it shows parents and children alike how to focus on feelings of gratitude, kindness and optimism that will improve interpersonal relationships, increase performance and lead to emotionally health and happy lives.
To learn more about the MindUp™ Program or 10 Mindful Minutes, visit www.TheHawnFoundation.org. Numerous interview clips with Goldie are online as well (ABC News, Fox News, The Dr. Oz show and more) as well as print interviews (The Huffington Post, and the UK’s Observer). To purchase 10 Mindful Minutes: Giving Our Children—and Ourselves—the Social and Emotional Skills to Reduce Stress and Anxiety for Healthier, Happier Lives, visit www.Amazon.com or The Penguin Group: http://us.penguingroup.com and search on 10 Mindful Minutes.