Madeleine Eames

- Psychotherapist
- Mindfulness Teacher

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Praise the effort not the result…

“We don’t do great things. We can only do small things with love “

Mother Teresa


Have you ever heard of those people who have big, lofty goals and wonderful dreams for when they retire or when they have time? Of course we all have. The tragedy happens when their life has passed them by and perhaps they are not able to do all those things they spent years slogging away dreaming about. Or maybe you make New Years resolutions that keep repeating year after year……


It’s great to have dreams. We need them, we want them and we ‘work’ towards them. But don’t let this be at the expense of today. Think of this time last year. Can you remember it? I can’t…  but I sure hope I enjoyed it cuz a whole year of my life has now passed by. What I’m saying is that when that ‘time’ arrives, you will still be in the now, the present, just like you are today. And if you can’t learn to love today, chances are you’ll be in such a mindset that you won’t relax and enjoy that future ‘time’ anyway.


Its like being asked what you would prefer… 3 million dollars today or one penny that will double in amount everyday for 31 days. Which would you pick? The lump sum today or a little every day that might add up? Well, you guessed it.. a penny doubling in sum everyday for 31 days will give you over 10 million dollars… who was better off? Wishing for one great thing or working, persistently, diligently over time and before you know it you have created a masterpiece.


I listened to an interview with Arnold Schwarzenegger this week with Tim Ferris (author of 4 hour workweek… a great read). I’ve always admired the Terminator since he said “I’ll be Back”… and he was back… he went from being Mr. Universe to many different roles in movies to business to politics to charities. His ability to have a vision and follow through was clear. Growing up in Austria in a small village with little money, he started to work out lifting weights. When he started competing he had a clear vision of winning the Mr. Universe title from the get-go. It infused his body and mind like a teabag and gave him a reason to complete a grueling workout everyday. He knew where he was going, then sat back and enjoyed the ride… and that ride took him many places. It’s like planting a seed then enjoying the watering every… single…day.


OK so what does this have to do with praise? Well, it turns out that not only are WE happier when we slow down, enjoy the journey and the present moment each and every day, but when we praise out kids for their efforts to learn, strive, try, succeed and fail, they do better as well, rather than focusing on their traits or end results. Research by Carol Dweck (author of Mindset) indicates that when we praise their efforts (“you tried really hard””you must have studied hard””all that training shows”) they behaved differently.

In a landmark series of experiments on American 5th graders, researchers Claudia Mueller and Carol Dweck found that kids behaved very differently depending on the kinds of praise they received.

Kids who were praised for their intelligence tended to avoid challenges. Instead, they preferred easy tasks. They were also more interested in their competitive standing–how they measured up relative to others–than they were in learning how to improve their future performance.

By contrast, kids who were praised for their effort showed the opposite trend. They preferred tasks that were challenging– tasks they would learn from.

And kids praised for effort were more interested in learning new strategies for success than they were in finding out how other children had performed.

Kids differed in other respects, too. Compared to kids praised for their effort, kids who were accustomed to being praised for their ability were

• More likely to give up after a failure

• More likely to perform poorly after a failure

• More likely to misrepresent how well they did on a task

And that’s not all. Kids praised for their intelligence were more likely to view their failures as evidence of low intelligence.


Let’s set an example for our kids and in the process, uncover joy every day by dreaming of goals, then let them go and praise yourself for every little step you take along the way.. this day is too precious to be wasted waiting for the future…


So, do things, do them well, enjoy them, and look at every day as a success in itself.


“The time is now, the place is here. Stay in the present. You can do nothing to change the past, and the future will never come exactly as you plan or hope for.” ~Dan Millman






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