Believe that life is worth living and your belief will help create the fact …The greatest weapon against stress is the ability to choose one thought over another. – William James
Values say who we are by how we choose to act day by day. They provide the motivation to stay resilient in the face of adversity. They shape how we chose to respond to disappointment and failure. Values must be identified and owned, then practiced to build them into a form of “muscle memory”. We can choose to value compassion, achievement, wisdom, adventure, kindness, wonder, experimentation, humility, and mercy. Or, we can let our fear and helplessness overwhelm us, angrily acting them out in jealousy, pettiness, abuse, bullying, and vindictiveness.
Today, modern technology complicates the ability to form values. As a society, we have become so engrossed in waiting for our smart phones to tweet or text the next piece of information, that common face to face discourse has given way to our hunger for the internet’s indiscriminate fire hydrant of digital information. Unwittingly, we’ve become addicted to a constant stream of information that has created a toxic brew in our society. What describes the day-to-day reality for too many people, especially young people, is their sense of isolation, loneliness, hyper self-criticism, and shame, all leading to an increase in anxiety and depression statistics. Stephen C. Hayes writes,
“Amidst the noise, we look in the mirror and find a person who is too fat, too old, or, irony of ironies, too critical and judgmental. We are unable to put to rest our own insecurities, many generated by media constantly pulling us into self-defeating behaviors. We are unable to sit with the pain and distress that is a normal part of the human experience; instead, we are offered ever more ways to escape it. We are unable to reach through the mental entanglement of human judgment, losing flexible contact with others. Compassion, connection, community, and peace of mind disappear into the chatter.” (Psychology Today, “10 Signs You Know What Matters”, 9/18)
Research shows that the same mental processes that feed comparison, judgment, and avoidance on the one hand can also enable us to create connection, community, and cooperation on the other. These habits of mind & heart start forming as new born infants. Overtime, these initial ways of thinking and feeling become foundational for how we will walk this earth, for better or worse. They become unconscious mindsets already shaping children as they begin formal schooling. Our nurturance is especially needed as children transition into adolescence the same time they are beginning to use Information Technology. They need help choosing what they care about beyond the evaluative judgmental mind and its yearnings. Parents get little help from our commercial culture;. Our young people need help in finding substantive ways that help teenagers acquire new skills in relating to their own minds.
This is what the ARC Process was designed to do – give students those tools, practices, and insight that strengthen their ability to relate to their minds.
There is a growing body of research studying which skills, when practiced intentionally over time, shape our brains and equip our minds to regulate life’s constant flow of information and energy. In designing The ARC Process, the three pioneering neuroscientists/educators listed below developed approaches and concepts that inform its scientific foundation.