1. Listen with heart.
In an age of 'likes' and virtual fake friends, we often forget how to listen to others and to not make it just about us. Dale Carnegie, who developed well known leadership and management training and was the author of one of the best-selling books ever 'How to Win Friends and Influence People', said it best: "You can make more friends in 2 months by becoming genuinely interested in other people than you can make in 2 years by trying to get other people interested in you". And we're talking about real friends here. 2. Spread gratitude.
If your family promotes being grateful for all the things in your life, then teach your peers, especially the ones that tend to always complain. Many of us like to paint a bleak picture of our situations in life either purely by habit because we've done it for so long, or we've never been taught gratitude. Sometimes you gotta dig deep, but there's always something to be grateful for. And the more we focus on those, the more our minds will expand and grow in a positive direction. 3. Be curious with your friends.
Remember when you were 5? Wow! So many things to be curious about. Why is the sky blue? What happens if I push this button? Where do babies come from? When we were younger, we weren't afraid to ask the questions because we were curious. But as we got older we somehow shied away from opening up to things or people we're not sure of and became self-conscious of what others might think of us. So we close ourselves off. Or we look to our phones for comfort. Teens who are curious about their peers and friends, make more friends. 4. Don't be afraid to learn from peers you think have it all.
Instead of getting intimidated by those you think have what you'd like to have… talent, leadership, looks, grades, loving family life, cool parents, wealth, etc. embrace those peers and find out what they're doing or not doing to get those things. And then determine if that's really you. It's the best way to learn and grow. Putting those peers down to make yourself feel better, or staying as far away as possible from them will get you nowhere, if not depressed.
5. Only intend to post things that represent your voice and only yours... and then think before you share with the world.
"We document our every personal move in photos and videos. Yet we know nothing about ourselves. We spend more time checking our stats than our souls. We mine our life experiences for data but not depth." This quote taken out of Brendan Burchard's book 'The Motivation Manifesto' captures a glimpse of our society today. Validation is important, but looking inside of ourselves and being authentic to who you really are will allow the universe to bring the right type of audience back to you. Each of us are so unique. Dig for depth. And then share with the world.
6. Be the type of friend you want others to be for you.
And be the stronger positive influence if need be. As human beings, we have the need to feel connected and loved by others. If you feel a peer is not being kind to you or maybe you see them being unkind to others, be the stronger person and reach out to them first. Be curious. Ask them questions. Almost always you'll find that they behave the way they do because of some deeper cause. It doesn't make their behavior right, but you being aware of it, and they knowing that you're not a threat, will transform your experience with that person into a much more positive one.
7. Learn to balance your body, heart, mind and soul in a healthy way.
The secret to becoming a happy, motivated, fulfilled adult is learning to balance these 4 body systems as you grow from your teen years. Your body has to be one in which you feel your most positive self in (being comfortable in your own skin). Your heart has to feel and process emotions in a healthy manner. Your mind has to strengthen with positive thinking rather than self doubt. And your soul will shine through when your body, mind and heart are feeling harmonious. 8. Don't be afraid to question injustice and stand up for yourself and your peers.
Teens today have a voice. This generation was raised by a generation that didn't necessarily have a voice when they were growing up. We had to learn questioning injustice and standing up for ourselves the hard way… through experience. However, this generation is encouraged to speak their minds. Make positive change. It's your time. 9. Discover and practice your positive strengths
We all have them. In an ideal world, your teen years would be the ones where you make these discoveries. So that when you become an adult, you know exactly what your strengths are and can exercise them in your personal as well as your professional life. If you're not sure what your strengths are, find out. Career centers and counselors at your school are a great way to find out. There are also many online assessments you can take. Join clubs, sports teams, music groups, dance groups, etc. that you think you might enjoy. Watch YouTube videos to learn how to create or craft something interesting to you. Take a class outside of school. The sooner you know your strengths, the sooner you can apply them and realize how you can contribute to your world.
In light of the recent tragic event in Florida as well as threats that have happened across U.S. high schools, we, as students, parents, teachers, school communities and citizens of this country, need to step it up and come forward to make positive change. It's going to take more than just one thing to make the change, so we need to contribute where we can.
If you have more ideas on how teens can be a positive influence in their world, please share them in the comments section. Let's start the dialogue and be positive thought leaders for a more positive world.