Most helpful positive review
229 of 236 people found the following review helpful
This book could change some lives for the better
on September 28, 2011
Goldie Hawn's book 10 Mindful Minutes is a thoughtful, scientifically-based program with the goal of teaching children "mindfulness." After an informative introductory foreword by child psychologist Daniel J. Siegel, M.D., Ms. Hawn explains her motivation behind the establishment of the Hawn Foundation and the MindUP program that is now being used in many schools across the U.S., Canada, and Britain. The results have been extremely positive; better reading scores, better attendance, less aggression, closer relationships, better stress management, etc.
Traumatized by a fearful incident at school as a child and later equally devastated by the 9/11 tragedy, Ms. Hawn decided that "no matter how small a gesture, I believe we can all do something to make this world a better place." Her small gesture has become a huge undertaking of scientific studies that explain how the brain functions and why helping children rediscover natural joy, understand the value of their emotions, and feel empathy can lead to less stress and a more joyful life. In order to do this, we as parents and grandparents can learn the MindUP process and lead by example.
The book explains that research has shown that children in the United States are the second least happy children in the world. Millions have emotional problems. Depression is a major problem among even very young children but especially among teens. Children are medicated at an alarming rate to treat these emotional problems. Academic performance continues to suffer. Dropout rates and suicides are increasing. Happiness is eluding us.
Ms. Hawn goes on to discuss a new field of study called "positive psychology," basically the idea that it is more beneficial to promote good mental health than to focus on the negative aspects of mental and emotional illnesses (in some cases here, I am semi-quoting the book). It also gives a detailed description of the physical properties of the brain, how they function, and what part they play in our thought processes. What controls stress and anxiety; what controls emotions; what controls aggression, depression, and fear. There is way too much science to it all to try to explain it here, but it is very well described and very informative reading.
She touches on the subject of the overuse of digital media (computers, video games, etc.) and its negative effect on a child's ability to communicate, how it affects the attention span, and even how the bombardment of violence in TV and games is desensitizing children and changing their abilities to be empathetic.
Stress is a significant factor in this study, and Ms. Hawn explains how the naturally occurring stress hormone cortisol affects our brains. She also explains that if we can explain to our children how their brains function, we can also teach them why they feel the way they do and how to have more control over their thoughts and emotions. Ms. Hawn gives clear, step-by-step suggestions on how to talk to your children and explain these things.
She goes on to explain how some basic practices can change the brain physically and therefore bring about positive effects on the emotional well being of children. These include things like time to "play" as a child and not have every moment of the day micromanaged. Mindfulness, the need for the brain to have a "break" off and on during the day. Understanding what it means to give your child your full attention with no distractions. Understanding the growing and ever-changing mind of the teenager and why it's so important to be in tune with your children at this stage of their lives.
There are sections on mindful breathing, mindful sensing, mindful listening, mindful seeing, mindful smelling, mindful tasting, mindful movement. Mindful breathing is probably the most important lesson learned here. It sounds much like meditation, but it is much more than that. I will be putting this one to practice for certain.
She lists many ways in which optimism has a positive effect on a person's life (including a longer life), and gives suggestions on things to do with your children to bring about those positive feelings. There are also sections on happiness, gratitude, anger (and how to handle it), sadness, fear, empathy, and kindness.
In each section, Goldie Hawn first explains/defines the subject and how it benefits or detracts from a child's (or adult's for that matter) emotional well being. She goes into great depth in her explanations and then gives detailed strategies on how to put this idea into practice. There are also short personal comments and quotes scattered throughout the book.
I have to say that I am amazed at the amount of research and study that she has put into this book. This is not just another psychology book or self-improvement manual. Ms. Hawn has taken the time to explain the why and how of each emotion to such a degree that I think it can give a parent a greater insight into their child's thought processes. She provides an extensive list of professionals from which she has drawn all of this research and information, and pulls years worth of work together into a sensitive, easy to understand book.
Goldie Hawn has always been a role model of happiness, a perfect person to write this kind of book. Her love of children and desire to provide us with information on how to teach our children to find that kind of joy and happiness in their lives shines through. One of the best lines in the book comes from the foreword: Jobs, friends, and even spouses come and go, but your children are yours forever. I truly believe that the world would be full of happier, healthier people if we would all put this book to work in our lives.