Welcome to the Virtuous Cycle [Day 6 of Citizenship]

April 22, 2014 by John Andrew Williams

Daily Thought: Trust and happiness leads to service. Service increases trust and happiness. Enter at either point, and you’ve stepping into the Virtuous Cycle

It was Spring 2007. I had three teenage coaching clients scheduled back to back. At that time we met in a conference room at the high school in southern Oregon where I developed the Academic Life Coaching Program. The conference room had floor to ceiling windows. It was beautiful, the perfect place for a life coaching session.

Spring in southern Oregon’s Rogue Valley is glorious: sunny, blue skies, perfect temperature, and long. Spring seems to last forever, which was a totally weird phenomenon from someone who grew up in Pittsburgh and spent college years in Rhode Island.

I had been working with each client for a few months, and the Academic Life Coaching Program was working. Each student was getting better grades and doing better socially. Their parents were thrilled, and I was so looking forward to the coaching sessions. It felt like a victory lap celebrating the results of teenagers being proactive in their life.

What I didn’t realize at the time, although the research is consistent on the benefits of social service, was that each student I was working with was well on his or her way of completing the required service hours for that year. The service requirement of the school had such a tremendous positive impact on students’ belief in taking action to make a difference. Being of service increased trust in others.

In those three life coaching sessions, each teenager expressed how happy things were turning out. It was like watching each student step into a virtuous cycle, where being proactive and being of service to others was having such a positive effect that made it easier and more exciting to be even more proactive and of even greater service to others.

We called it the ‘golden space,’ and the upward cycle is unmistakable.

You know you’re in the cycle when you start to trust that your actions make a difference in your own life and in the lives of others. Citizenship is when hope (belief + a plan) meets empathy and action.

What starts your positive cycle?

Also read: Being a Citizen is Your Education [Day 7 Citizenship]

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