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Dr. Hallowell's Blog

Archive for November, 2016

Tuesday, November 29th, 2016

The Art of Connection

As Dr. Hallowell sees it, America today is facing a crisis of disconnection. The speed of modern life, the demands of home and the workplace, and the impact of technology all have conspired to disconnect us from each other in subtle but destructive ways. People don’t know their neighbors; indeed, in many places, neighborhoods do not exist; people don’t make time for friendships; they even have trouble making time for family members. Everyone is working hard, but increasingly people are not making time for the connections that really matter.

That’s why Dr. Hallowell feels it’s important to put technology aside and get out and pursue real-live connections. So for today’s DISTRACTION episode, that’s just what he did. He took a field trip through the streets of New York City into Central Park looking to find smiles, make connections and engage with real people. He meets some interesting and fun people along the way as he shows all of us that it is possible to make connections wherever you go.  We invite you to join Dr. Hallowell and learn about “The Art of Connection” as he engages with the people he met.

Five suggestions for improving family and community connections here!

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016

Grateful for you! Happy Thanksgiving!


I believe positive points of connection make the most powerful force for good in life. They are by and large free, and infinite in supply.

Because the supply is infinite, we have to pick and choose, which makes for one of life’s most difficult tasks – especially these days – when there is so much more to choose from than ever before.

If you choose to maintain your connection with me, through my newsletter and these notes and whatever other ways you and I might stay in touch, I am grateful to you. I give thanks for you. Because, when you choose to connect with me, I gain strength. I try to offer you strength through these missives, but it works both ways. When you choose to open me up via this note, you help me, as I also hope I help you.

Isn’t this the best in life, the chance to help each other, in such simple yet durable ways?

So I give thanks for you. Thanks for being there. I give thanks that we are all alive, and I give thanks for the days we have left to us.

Let us rejoice, give thanks, and sing, as one of my favorite old hymns puts it. Rejoice, give thanks, and sing. Imagine how giddy we’d feel–and perhaps how ridiculous we’d look–if we actually did that? Okay, one, two, three…Rejoice! Give thanks! And sing!

As always, sadness nudges its way into even the most joyful life or day. As my old college professor, William Alfred, used to say to me, “Life is loss.” Loss is hard. Sad. But sad is not bad. Sad can be a form of appreciation of what was good, but is no more. Sad can be a form of love.

And love, that tool too few dare wield, gives us all we need to deepen life and make even its saddest part glow with warmth and meaning.

Be glad for all your loves. Rejoice in them, not only this day, but every day. They give us all we need, if we but let them.


Warmest wishes to you all,


P.S.  I’d like to share this special mini episode #36, which includes my message of love, connection and gratitude and a montage of kids sharing their thoughts on what they’re thankful for. LISTEN HERE!



Monday, November 7th, 2016

How do you plant a seed of gratitude?

Note from Ned

Nov. 8, 2016

Today is election day.  I can hardly wait to learn of the results.

I think it’s fair to say this is an election like no other; the ugliness that emanated from the process is unlike anything I have experienced in my lifetime. Whether you will be pleased or disappointed in the outcome–and if you consider positions other than the presidency as well as the ballot questions in every state, it’s likely no one was 100% pleased–I want to say to you, “Well, here we are, alive and kicking, so let’s get on with our lives and improve the world.”  Let me suggest one way how.

I did an episode of my “Distraction” podcast today (which you can download and subscribe to on iTunes) in which I talked a bit about gratitude.  After living through the months leading up to this election, I thought it would be good for us all to name and cherish what we’re grateful for (having spent months being made painfully aware of what we are definitely not grateful for).

I was talking about how to rid your mind of the weeds that grow there, like kudzu, crowding out the lovely flowers that should abound there.  I proposed one way to get rid of those weeds, or at least cut them way back, namely, to plant seeds of gratitude.

How do you plant a seed of gratitude?  You pause for a moment–you have to pause, you can’t do this on the run–and then you look out across the terrain of your life and you identify one thing–one person, one place, one possession, one talent, one quality, one memory, one bit of good luck–for which you feel grateful.

That feeling of gratitude plants the seed.  Let’s say, for example, in my case I feel grateful to have a mind that allows me to write these words to you right now.  Once I name it–as I just did–and let the feeling of gratitude wash through me, then the seed is planted.

The next step is always the next step with any seed you plant.  You tend to it, water it, make sure it gets sunlight and does not get frostbite or be attacked by hostile bugs and vermin.  Each day you fuss over the little seed you planted.  Each day you look for growth.  Pretty soon that seed has germinated, sunk roots, and broken the surface of the place where you planted it.  Next thing you know, it is growing on its own.  You still have to tend to it, but not as often, as its own strength sustains it.

If tomorrow I come back to that little seed I just planted–the seed of feeling grateful that my mind allows me to write well enough to be read–and water it with a few seconds of attention and appreciation, then the little seed will do what tended-to seeds do, and start to grow.

Before very long, that seed will have broken the surface and will begin to displace some weed of self-doubt that I have allowed to grow for too long.  My little seed will turn into a strong and beautiful flower in my mind.  I will be able to see it as I walk through my mind every day.  I will see beauty, rather than ugly weeds.

We’ve all seen way too many ugly weeds over the past months.  I propose that all of us plant some seeds of gratitude, water them, fuss over them, and watch beauty displace the ugliness.

We all have the ability to be gardeners of our minds.  We can all grow such lush and lovely flowers there.  We can also help others do the same.  When you pay a compliment, for example, you are planting a little seed of self-regard in that person.  With luck, the person will be able to accept it and water it himself or herself.

We can all be regular Johnny or Jill Appleseeds, planting beauty in ourselves and in each other wherever we go.

Let’s get to it.

Saturday, November 5th, 2016

Learning Differences Instead of Disabilities and Special Needs

Dr. Hallowell ponders, “What if we could see a world of learning differences instead of a world of disabilities and special needs?”

Isn’t it  time to reject the model that emphasizes what’s wrong, disabled, disordered and diseased and replace it with a model that emphasizes what’s right, what’s good, what’s strong?

In that context, it becomes far easier to work on the problems, simply because the child and the parents are doing so in a context of hope and enthusiasm. Instead of feeling like a disabled child in need of treatment, the child can feel like a champion in the making, a member of the society of the magni cently minded. That switch in emphasis, I have learned, makes all the difference in the world.

If your child is struggling in school, take heart. His or her learning problem is likely a marker of talent. Sure, there is a struggle. Sure, you worry. Sure, you hate to see your child work hard and get poor grades.

But you can take steps to mine the gems. Be sure you are working with a professional and a school which can help you develop the talent, not just address the problems and struggles. You need to do both simultaneously, develop talent and address short comings but in an atmosphere that is free of shame and fear and full of hope and positive energy.

This is not spin doctoring. This is the truth. This is the method that works the best. Children with learning differences are some of our most talented children. But they need special help. Otherwise their talent can go to waste and they can lead lives of chronic underachievement. They usually can’t unwrap their gifts on their own. They need a great teacher, an angel of a coach, a parent who never gives up on them and works as their advocate. They need to know that at least a couple of people believe in them no matter what.

I invite you to join me in the great cause of changing the negative view of learning disabilities into embracing a positive view of learning differences.  Thank you.

LISTEN HERE for some expert insights on teaching children with learning differences in Dr. Hallowell’s “Distraction” mini Podcast #33 w/Marjorie Castro, Head of School at the Eagle Hill School in Greenwich, CT. Learn how specialized schools work to address each child’s specific educational needs and help them become successful learners.

If your child is struggling in school and you want to know more about “Inclusion  Classrooms,” read Understood.org’s 5 Benefits of Inclusion Classrooms.

Dr. Hallowell’s 20 Tips on Helping Children Succeed in School  for parents and teachers.



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