Gateway – Doing good to feel better

September 7th, 2011 | Posted by admin in Uncategorized

Some people say things you never forget.  One day I listened to a keynote speaker share a client’s ‘success story’ which started with firing his psychologist and using his scheduled therapy time to volunteer.  As shocking as it was to hear a psychologist brag about this to his peers, it’s not shocking to see how the client could choose to make this change.  When he quit complaining and adopted a helper mentality, he started to feel valuable and had less time to focus on the ‘poor me’ mentality.

The entire faculty and student body of Gateway Academy is leaning into the book The 7 Habits of Highly Successful Teens.  It’s format is a combination of comic book, storytelling, key phrase and checklists – in other words – easy reading for teenagers.  Like the idea of volunteering, it’s full of simple ideas you can apply to your life.  I can see myself reading a few pages to my own teens and then discussing how I have applied and functionally failed at many of the principles.  Usually my kids open up with their own current stories after hearing how their mother crashed and burned in adolescence.  Since their daily mission is to prove they are smarter than I am, I just help fuel the fire – which ironically plays right into my hand.

In the early chapters of the book, Sean Covey discusses the personal bank account.  One idea is to help others with small acts of kindness.  I personally like the part where Covey recommends cleaning up at home AND doing it with more effort than usual.  A realistic idea?  Maybe not.  What may be realistic is the application of helping others through a meaningful job.  I know what the keynote speaker said is true.  When people are in a funk in their lives, engaging in the act of helping others is a game changer.  We often see a teenager spend time at a summer internship or job and then come back to school a more mature and motivated person.  They feel like they have value.  They have impacted someone or something in a way they perceive makes a difference.

I wonder if someone in your family feels stuck or not valued.  What act of service can they provide to others which will in turn create a sense of intrinsic value?  For teens, motivation often comes through something they choose.  For example, if dad recommends cleaning equipment at the fitness club, your teen might prefer dog washing. If you want to consider job options and don’t know where to start, call Gateway and talk to the counselor about it. Volunteer opportunities are abundantly available in the Houston area as seen on and

In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens Covey recommends doing small acts of kindness regularly.  Although this sounds reasonable, often teenagers are so ‘me’ focused they find it hard to activate being of service to others.  Sometimes they have to be placed in the position of a helper and then attach to the idea.  This means signing them up to work or to be of service and then waiting for them to reap the feeling of being a valuable helper.  Belief often follows behavior in this context–

Someone doesn’t feel valued

They help others

They feel valuable

I encourage you to read along with us as we dare to plant the seeds of successful actions into our Gateway teens.  Although it can be found as an audio book, it is visually stimulating in written form.  You can find it at

Julie Nicodemus
Counselor, Gateway Academy


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