This semester we are starting a Literature class with the kids.
Can I get an AMEN!!
Yeah, so this is my territory and I am super stoked. Bonus: the first novel we are reading is none other than Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice.” I’ll just be in a delirium of heaven over here.
The problem is, the kids in the Lit class are in 4th and 5th grade, and Jane Austen is a little tough for this age. We’ve been reading the first few chapters a few times, and it just wasn’t getting through. Reading it alone, reading it out loud, reading it together. There are a lot of characters, a lot of Bennets, a few Bingley’s, and a slew of gigantic, 18th century words like, “ingenious suppositions, and distant surmises;” or “I honour your circumspection. A fortnight’s acquaintance is certainly very little. One cannot know what a man really is by the end of a fortnight.” I mean, we are getting through it…but it’s taking a while.
So I had this plan.
Let’s break this book down. We’ll read 5 chapters, and then we will watch the 1995 BBC version of “Pride and Prejudice,” which is neatly broken up into 6 parts, so we can watch only what we have read. So we started this today.
And I am dead serious when I say that the whole time we were watching Episode 1, the kids were excitedly saying, “Oh, that’s Mrs. Bennet! And that’s why she is foolish! I didn’t understand why she was foolish, but that makes sense now.” They watched what they read, and they saw the characters, and they were able to put faces to the names.
IT. WAS. AWESOME. The kids were excited about the ball, and excited about seeing the characters, and they were excited about the story. We really have been working on reading these first 5 chapters for a few days now, and when I finally made the breakthrough with them…I was overcome with pride. Big, fat, warm squishy happy pride. We did it.
Now, the infamous Simon Sinek wrote a book about the release of serotonin as a result of these moments. He actually broke down the features of quite a few endorphins in his book:
I am very interested in what he has to say about this balance of endorphins in our life. Stress is good…it pushes us to innovate. Goals are good…they get us to create. Serotonin is good…it gives us a satisfaction that drives us forward. But how do you balance it all?
I found a great summary on GirlFriendCircles.com
“Sinek relied on human biology to illustrate what motivates behavior, saying basically that our actions boil down to the good feelings we get from four key chemicals in our body: dopamine, endorphins, oxytocin, and serotonin. When we trigger any of these chemicals in our bodies, we get a shot of something euphoric whether it’s extra energy, joy, calm, or pride. Here’s how we receive those good feelings:
- Dopamine is the result of accomplishing goals, it’s designed to help us find what we’re looking for. Every time we see a finish line, cross something off our to-do list, or see movement toward our goals– we get that shot of dopamine!
- Endorphins mask our physical pain and help us keep pushing ourselves to where we need to be. For most of us who live more sedentary and safe lives, our most common form of endorphins come from exercise. If you’ve ever had a “runner’s high”– you know this feeling.
- Oxytocin is one I talk about a lot in connection with our friendships as it reinforces bonds, builds trust, and relieves stress. We get this from touch, meaningful conversation, breast-feeding, and when we see/experience acts of human generosity.
- Serotonin happens in moments of pride, recognition, and status. When we receive our diploma on stage, say “I do” in front of friends and family, or are the recipients of a meaningful award– we get that shot of serotonin that boosts our joy.
Now, what I thought was super fascinating is that the first two chemicals you can get all by yourself. You need no one else present to get your dopamine from crossing something off your to-do list or to exercise and feel the endorphins. Sinek called these “selfish” hormones.
The latter two–oxytocin and serotonin– are “unselfish” chemicals since we need someone else present in order to receive the rewards that our body wants to give us. He gave the example of someone who could just receive an email telling them that enough credits had been accomplished and the bill paid so therefore they earned their diploma– and that person would have most certainly received a shot of dopamine for reaching their goal. But it’s when that person dons their cap and gown and walks in front of everyone that the serotonin is released. We need an “audience”– someone to cheer for us or witness our success– to give us that sense of pride and recognition. And the best part of these unselfish chemicals? BOTH people get the shot. Not just the graduate on stage, but also the teachers who taught that student, the family that supported them, and their friends who did it with them. Oxytocin and serotonin need others present to initiate them, but they also benefit all parties.”
(I was trying to find Simon’s list of these 4, but GirlFriendCircles.com did such a great job summarizing it, I would love to give her credit for what she said!! http://www.girlfriendcircles.com/blog/index.php/2013/07/friendships-stress-and-hormones-simon-sinek/)