As many of you know, I am writing a book – The Grit Guide for Teens. The good news is that I just gave the book into the editor today (5 minutes ago). The bad news is that writing an original blog was impossible. However, as you all know, I am a big fan of habits and my habit of producing a monthly blog needed to happen – so I am kind of cheating. I am sharing a blog I shared last September because it is still so timely and it was the only way a blog would be sent out before school started.  I hope you enjoy! Here it is…

“Hello.” It is such a simple word, yet so powerful. I recently experienced the power of “hello” while at Lake George. If anyone has ever been to Lake George, it is all about the lake and boating. I grew up on the water and have warm memories of boating with my family. For those of you who are less familiar with boating etiquette, it is boating protocol to say, “hello.” For little kids, adults, people on big boats, or small boats – when you see another boat or a person on land you say, “hello”, and give a big wave. The question is why? When you are in a car and you stop at a light you don’t say, “hello” to the other motorist or passengers. In fact, it is often the opposite. In a car, people would be put off by a “hello” and the only hand gestures I have seen motorists use have not been very pleasant. So my question to you is – is it the fun of boating that makes everyone so friendly, or does friendly make boating so much fun? I think it is a little bit of both. Boating is fun, which puts us in a good mood, and being in a good mood makes us friendly and happy.

Although summer vacation is over, here are three easy ways to keep the warmth and good feelings of summer alive, year round.

1. Smile and say, “Hello”
Smiling is contagious. The underlying, neurological reason for this reaction is that we all have mirror neurons. Mirror neurons mirror back the emotions of others. Therefore, when we are in the presence of smiling people, we feel happy (boat people). The converse is also true. When we are surrounded by irate and impatient people (often motorists), we mirror that emotional energy as well. So how can we use mirror neurons to our advantage? We can smile. At school, I smile and say, “hi” to all. I have trained the kids so that when they see me, they smile too and say “hello.” The exchange of smiles and hellos starts our days off on the right foot. It’s so easy and costs nothing, so if you want to improve your mood, the mood of your family or the larger community, say, “hello” with a big smile.

2. Be Bucket Fillers, not Bucket Dippers, and Use Your Lid
At the school that I work, we have made a commitment to be bucket fillers. You can fill a bucket by acts of kindness to yourself and others. When you fill a bucket, you and the other person feel good. When you dip into someone else’s bucket, you dip into your own. Lastly, protect your own bucket and the bucket of others by putting a lid on it. When we fill others’ buckets (by being kind), we not only bring joy to them, but also reward ourselves. It nurtures us and makes us feel good.

3. Focus on the positive
Human beings have a tendency to focus on the negative. This negative focus may have helped us in our caveman days to ward off saber-tooth tigers, but can be detrimental in our current lives. It is important to proactively change our focus and search for the wins rather than the losses. If we focus on the negative, this negative focus will become prominent in our lives, and without meaning to, it will change our moods and attitudes. Conversely, if we focus on the smiles, the laughs, and what we are accomplishing, we will feel happier and more fulfilled.

So my challenge to you is even though the summer is fading, let’s create the same cheer and warmth year round. Whether young or old, big, or small, make sure you give a warm greeting, be a bucket filler, not a bucket dipper, and always try to focus on the positive.

Wishing everyone a terrific beginning of the school year, one filled with joy and happiness. I promise you that when you see me I will be saying, “hi” and waving to you as if we were passing each other in boats.
Please follow me at twitter at Caren Feldman@carenfeldman or check out my website at for additional blogs, articles, and presentations.