What Do Young People Need to Be Successful in Life?

The number one question people ask me is how to ensure their child’s future happiness. And I always hold my tongue. Happiness cannot be sustained. Happiness is only one emotion and it is interdependent on the wide range of emotions that make a person human. Happiness isn’t the goal. Meaning is.

Successful adults have meaningful work and meaningful relationships. That is what young people need–a way to discover meaning in their work and in their relationships.

I am not happy every minute of every day. From the time I wake up to the time I go to sleep at night I am happy, confused, tired, excited, peeved, sad etc. depending on the circumstance and the moment. Regardless of my emotional varieties, I am consistently clear about my meaning, my purpose and my calling in life. My relationships support this understanding. I’m not exactly sure how I discovered this sense of meaning but I am positive that it makes all the difference in my experiences of life and the people with whom I interact.

I love being alive. I delight in my chosen profession. I am grateful for everything I have received. I am curious, open and intrigued by most people I encounter. I think that these two things: meaningful work and meaningful relationships is where all conversations, decisions and changes surrounding education and learning should begin and ultimately where they should end up. This is what every young person needs.

Jenifer Fox is an internationally published author, educational keynote speaker and leading innovator on 21st Century Learning. Her groundbreaking book, Your Child’s Strengths, a Guide for Teachers and Parents (Viking/Penguin) is widely accepted as the definitive guide to developing success through a focus on strengths for children. Jenifer authored The Differentiated Instruction Book of Lists (Wiley) and has created Differentiated Instruction, an online professional course for teachers.
  1. Jeff Cheeseborough Reply

    Amen Sister Preach it!

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