Dear Parents:

Thanks again for taking your time attending this morning’s seminar on Success vs. Mental Health.  Here are some websites and reference used in this presentation.  The link for my summary on the HS students’ essay contest is  Again, thank for your support to FUSS’ mental health awareness campaign.

Mental health generally refers to “a state of well-being which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community” (WHO).

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What is Princeton Looking For?

 “We look for students with intellectual curiosity…  We look for students who make a difference in their schools and communities…. Tell us if you’ve had a job or a responsibility in your home. We want to know what you care about, what commitments you have made and what you’ve done to act on those commitments.”

What is Harvard Asking for?

“– Does the candidate have a direction yet? Where will the candidate be in 1 year? 5 years? 25 years? Will she contribute something, somewhere, somehow?

— What sort of human being is the candidate now? What sort of human being will she be in the future?

— Does the candidate have initiative? Is he a self-starter? What motivates her?”


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Soft Factors of Success in Education — from administrators

– Good study skills so students know how to access the information they want and know how to get the help when they need

– Confidence that they can accomplish anything if they are willing to work hard enough  

– development of critical thinking skills 

– development of good social and communication skills


8 win-factors distinct to successful people (The Winner’s Brain: 8 Strategies Great Minds Use to Achieve Success, 2010)




Emotional Balance

Memory: utilize memory of past experiences to anticipate the future and predict the best responses to new situations



Brain Care


Motivation: needs a general attitude of valuing children’s autonomy and to provide autonomy support

  Roots in innate curiosity

  Offering choice & minimizing controls

  To meet basic psychological needs for “connection & competence”

— Making available information that is needed for decision making and for performing the target task (Self-Determination Theory)

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 Students are more academically motivated when 1 of 4 conditions is present:

– when the task has interest to them

– when they see a direct link between their actions and an outcome

– when completing the task brings social rewards

– when they feel competent enough to complete the task at hand.

Additional Motivation Tips

Mindset: to build growth mindset that values the efforts and process and cultivate internal locus of control

Extrinsic reward can be useful if motivation is in short supply but productivity and external reward are inversely proportional after a certain threshold.

Intrinsic rewards diminishes when external reward became the primary reason for doing it.

Concentrate on concrete Steps rather than intangible aspects of a task motivates us to start it. 


— Authentic and stable sense of self

— Confidence: know both strengths and weaknesses




– Avoid distraction

– Mindfulness: pay attention to immediate emotions, thoughts and body sensations

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Emotional Balance 

— ABC (Adversity—Belief—Consequence): 

— Delayed Gratification


Memory: 3 ways to increase its strength

— Practices: the 10,000-hour rule

— Form them under highly emotional circumstances 

— Attach new information to something already familiar



— Highly resilient brains are able to temper emotional response and quickly recover

— Learn to tolerate mistakes and learn from failure

– Build Internal Locus of Control: Praising efforts to cultivate persistence


Brain Care

– Regular exercises: at least 30-minute x 3/week

– Adequate sleep

– Nutrition: EFAs; berries, apples, Omega-3 & 6

– Stimulation: new experiences; hobby; deep breathing


How to cultivate traits for success?

– Growth Mindset

– Respect & trust your children

– Understand your children’s unique temperament, interests, strengths and relative weaknesses on multiple intelligence

– Support Autonomy

Challenge Success, Stanford University (2009) recommends:

— Ease performance pressure & debunk college myths

  Help children find their passion & see the connection between school studies and future

  Build responsibility at home and in the community

  Maintain down time and family time. Avoid over-scheduling

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The Winner’s Brain: 8 Strategies Great Minds Use to Achieve Success (Da Capo Press, 2010).

Dweck, C. (2006). Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. Ballantine Books, NY.

Gladwell, M. (2008). Outliers: The Story of Success. Little, Brown and Company, NY.

Goleman, D. (1995). Emotional Intelligence: Why it can Matter More Than IQ. Bantam Books: NY.

Seligman, M. (1990, 1998). Learned Optimism.  Free Press.Seligman, M. (2002).

Authentic Happiness. Free Press.