Books that foster a growth mindset in kids (and grownups)

We are totally into growth mindsets as a way to be.  In fact, we have blogged about growth mindsets at least a couple of times before.  And we’ve discussed Mindset by Carol Dweck here and there.  Here’s some additional resources for fostering growth mindsets in kids.  Some of them we’ve posted before, but some are new to us, thanks to #1’s sister who provided us with a list of resources (shoutout!)

You can learn anything: A cool video.

Here are some more books for kids of all ages, with brief commentary on the ones we’ve read:

Dream Big, Little Pig! by Kristi Yamaguchi. Companion: It’s a Big World, Little Pig!
The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper (we like this one, classic!)
The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes by Mark Pett and Gary Rubunstein
Your Fantastic Elastic Brain by JoAnn Deak, Ph.D.
Beautiful Oops! by Barney Saltzberg (big recommend!  So fun!)
A Little Bit of Oomph! by Barney Saltzberg
Ish by Peter H. Reynolds (#2 finds Peter H. Reynolds to be annoyingly preachy and especially dislikes So Few of Me, which seems to be digging at the parent reading the book rather than being for the kid)
The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires (HUGE recommend!  Describes the engineering process perfectly through the eyes of a budding young engineer and her dog.)
Flying! by Kevin Luthardt
Someday by Eileen Spinelli
The OK Book by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
The Mermaid and the Shoe by K G Campbell
Make Magic! Do Good! by Dallas Clayton
A Is for Awesome by Dallas Clayton
Miss Maple’s Seeds by Eliza Wheeler
Lily the Unicorn by Dallas Clayton
What Do You Do With an Idea? by Kobi Yamada
I Can Be Anything! by Jerry Spinelli
Almost by Richard Torrey
Mistakes That Worked by Charlotte Jones
Prudence Wants a Pet by Cathleen Daley (the illustrations are hilarious)
Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae (DC1 really liked this one back when zie was a toddler)

See anything you want for the people in your life this non-denominational holiday or birthday season?  Any other suggestions for great books that promote growth mindsets?

Ponderings on mindsets and intelligence

One of the things that the mindset literature is pretty clear on is that you’re not supposed to praise kids for innate characteristics, but for effort.  They have studies where they measure effort after a kid has been told, “You’re so smart” vs. “I can really see the effort you put in” or something like that.  Outcomes in the next experiment decline for the former but not for the latter.  Later studies suggest cheating goes up when innate intelligence is praised.

And so I’ve been keeping these ideas in mind when raising my kids.  With our first child we even went so far as to (frequently) request daycare and school teachers not to praise hir intelligence, but instead hir work ethic and interest.

And I thought that was the right thing to do until recently.  For the past couple of years, I’ve had an extremely successful student, a young woman, for two classes who has low confidence.  She’s easily one of the best students our program has had and lots of professors agree.  But she has low confidence.  She wanted to go to graduate school.  It took a lot of pushing to get her to apply to top programs that she should have gotten into based on her testscores, perfect GPA, and research experience.

She didn’t get in to any of them.  I’m guessing her essay wasn’t any good (she was too embarrassed to show it to professors before sending!) and most likely they wanted more work experience.  Plus she was on the low end for pure math courses– a few more probably would have helped.  I also wonder if she made the right choices of letter writers.  Maybe her research supervisor wasn’t as effusive about her as the professors in my department are.

Contrast that with one of her friends who is similarly situated except has an extremely high self-confidence (even if she has far less intellectual curiosity).  This friend didn’t apply to graduate school but did get into one of the most prestigious RA positions you can get as a feeder to top graduate schools.

I met the parents of both women at graduation and got an insight into the difference in confidence.  The parents of the second girl thanked me for being a great professor and for giving their daughter opportunities and said they were really excited about her job for next year.  They had normal proud parent reactions as we went back and forth praising their daughter (and me) and discussing her future.

The second set of parents (divorced, so I got this conversation twice) was also effusive in their praise for me, but not so much in their praise for their own daughter.  “She works hard,” “she’s always worked hard,” was a constant refrain from parents, step-parents, and siblings.  But there was something about the way they said it, as if they were excusing the praise rather than accepting it.  This was fixed in my mind when her mom’s response to my praise of her daughter was, “that’s sweet of you to say.”  “No, no it wasn’t,” I said. “I’m from the midwest.  We don’t just say things unless they’re true.”

Maybe I shouldn’t be so worried about the world telling my kids that they’re smart.  They are smart.  That’s just a fact.  (And, to be honest, I’ve always felt a bit uncomfortable about being told I’m smart… I mean, yes, I’m smart, but so what.  Praise my accomplishments and things I’ve done, not my innate nature.)

Growing up my family took being smart for a given.  Of course I was smart.  I’m smart but so what.  Being smart isn’t enough (wasn’t enough), it’s what I do with it.  I wasn’t allowed to let my brain atrophy.  I had to keep exercising it.  My mom always told me I needed to keep pushing myself so that I could grow more dendrites.  Working hard would make me smarter.

Early on I really did believe that I just worked harder and had more opportunities than the other kids.  And that’s definitely true– my parents sacrificed a lot to give us opportunities and focused on our academic growth.  My mom picked up a lot of good child rearing techniques while working for Head Start back in the 70s.

But in the past few years since having children, I’ve come to suspect that there’s actually a bit of nature in the equation as well.   Maybe it’s not just in utero health and stimulation as an infant and so on (though these things are obviously important).  I sometimes wonder if gifted kids were just born with a bit more curiosity than non-gifted– and it’s the energy and curiosity that causes us to explore and grow dendrites… or maybe the lower sleep need is what allows more connections to be built, who knows.  Other kids can get as smart, but it’s more of an uphill climb.

Nature cannot be everything.  At university, I see my students get smarter, quicker, and more curious over the 2-4 years that I know them.  That blossoming is amazing.  Taking kids with cruddy high school experiences and fewer family advantages and teaching them to think and aspire and question is one of the most rewarding things that I do.  People really can get smarter.

I don’t want my DCs to feel limited.  I don’t want them to think they’re not capable of great things.  Maybe it is ok to say, Yes of course you’re smart, but what matters is what you do with it.  What matters is what you love, how hard you work, what interests you, what you care about, how much you focus, how many times you try.  And luck, of course, but we can control that about as much as we can our intelligence, which is to say, we can help create our own luck with measured risks just as we can increase our intelligence by focused study*.

I don’t think those short-term lab experiments by Carol Dweck et al. exclude this idea, the idea that you can combine praise for intelligence with emphasis on hard work.  So maybe I’ll go back to doing what seems right to me and not worry so much about how people praise my kids, so long as my kids know that intelligence isn’t everything.  Maybe praising solely effort isn’t the only way to create perseverance.  Maybe a little self-knowledge won’t hurt and will allow them to reach farther so they don’t keep themselves from taking opportunities.

Where do you fall on the praise spectrum?  We know all our readers are intelligent– do you think how you were praised as kids affects your perseverance and self-confidence as adults?  (And in what way?)

*standard disclaimer about extreme situations and not blaming people in poverty or with mental disabilities

Helpless husbands and the fixed mindset excuse

Just read this on a mommy blog:  “Dh said that he leaves me to do all those things because I’m better at it than he is.”

I’ve seen the sentiment before.  Heck, my in-laws recently revoked laundry privileges from both my BIL and my FIL… something about a shrunken sweater.

That doesn’t fly in our household.  If you suck at something that is a basic ability, if that’s your excuse, well, then you need more practice.

My partner wore a lot of pink underpants and socks when he started doing laundry.  That’s not an excuse to stop doing laundry, just a reason to not buy red clothing to begin with.  (Or really any clothing that’s not color-safe.  Who has time to separate laundry these days?  Not us!)

My husband didn’t know how to cook when we got married.  He made some memorably spectacular mistakes (pretzel bread, fish cookies, etc.), and now he’s a better cook than I am.  That means I need more practice!  We even sent him to cooking school to speed up his knife skills and it worked.

If you’re bad at something, that’s not an excuse not to do it.  That’s a reason that you need to do more of it.

Now, if you don’t like doing something, then perhaps you should consider outsourcing, because your partner may not like doing it either, or even if your partner likes doing it, you may dislike far too many household chores to be able to split them evenly.

Of course, something like baby-care becomes more enjoyable when the baby has bonded with you both, and that takes an upfront start-up cost of time spent taking care of the baby.

What do you think?  Do you or does someone you know use the “but I suck at it excuse” to shift work onto other people?

Ask the readers: How do I teach my middle-schooler writing?

While we have been impressed with the math and orchestra teaching in public schools where we are, we have been less so with the humanities.  DC1 is not learning how to write.  Zie is not getting many writing assignments, and the one that zie gets are completed in-class with minimal feedback and are mostly creative writing or opinion.  (Add to that the ELA teacher doesn’t exactly show great writing skills in hir own written communications… though I suppose my blog writing doesn’t show the same level of quality as my professional writing so I shouldn’t throw stones.  Still…)

Looking online most of the recommendations seem to be “let them read a lot and write a lot”… well, DC1 already reads a lot.  And, having looked into the “research” that claims that writing cannot be taught, I am less than impressed with the methodology.  I can believe that writing cannot be taught in a single semester, and that grammar instruction without  combined writing instruction doesn’t transfer, but I have a bright 10 year old with a growth mindset for at least another 6 years of instruction, not a fixed-mindset college student for a semester of remediation.   I have to believe that there’s something more systematic that can be done than just having DC1 write about a wedding zie has attended.

I am most interested in teaching DC1 technical writing, especially given that technical writing seems to be completely neglected in hir classes thus far.  As I’m grading my college students’ policy briefs, I find I worry that DC1 doesn’t know how to use topic sentences or craft a paragraph that supports such sentences.  I want hir to learn outlining.  And have the ability to skim an article that has been written with topic sentences and an outline.

I vaguely remember learning in 3rd grade about topic sentences, diagramming sentences in 4th grade, and outlining in 5th grade.  (My juvenilia is actually pretty good… at least compared to the writings of many of my college students…)  A high school history teacher taught the art of transitions (though in college I learned that not all disciplines appreciate them, so I have stopped doing that final step except when writing in more historical sub-fields).  My mom did a lot of teaching me how to fix my grammar, clarity, and so on.  #2 also helped form my writing (her mom is a professional editor).  One of my grad advisors taught me discipline-specific tricks for writing in my main field.

Students at elite private schools get a lot of technical instruction in writing.  The results are impressive.  And I can’t believe it’s just their socioeconomic status or a greater propensity to read that’s the cause of it.  My sister got actual technical writing instruction at the private school she went to for high school and her writing ability and writing enjoyment improved tremendously (despite heavy amounts of constructive feedback).  There are rules that can be taught.

So I’m asking you:  How do I teach writing to my kids?  Is there a curriculum that would be good?  A workbook series or set of prompts that would guide them through the basics of technical writing? A Kumon-style academy that does a particularly good job?  How did you learn how to write?

Late Link Loves R Us

February challenge continues to go poorly.  It’s not that I don’t want to write, it’s that I just don’t have enough willpower to get everything done before 8am the next day and then I start getting heavily interrupted throughout the day.  There were a couple of days this week I only wrote 15 min.  There were a couple of days I wrote in the morning.  Last Saturday I did no writing.  Basically, I haven’t gained much with this challenge so far and I still have over 300 emails that I need to get through.  I’ll be working all Saturday starting with grading as soon as I finish this link love.  (Writing will come later because I need to discuss some things with a coauthor on a book chapter that finally came back this week.)  Sometime in March I’ll wrap up with why I’ve been getting a C on this challenge (B- if you’re grading generously) even though I’ve done all the previous challenges even ones that were dumb or that I really really hated.

My #2 fear is getting closer to reality.

Republicans in congress are afraid to see their constituents and are refusing to see anybody but big donors during the week that they’re supposed to visit with constituents.  Both of my senators and my congressman are terrified and are refusing to come out.  The closest office to my senator LIED to me about not having the senator’s calendar and then asked for my detailed contact information “to send to DC to get you on the list” because “he doesn’t announce in his newsletter”.  I called the DC office and they told me that they didn’t know why the regional office would say such things since they have no such list and the regional offices all have the senator’s schedule.  Here’s Indivisible on what to do if your MOC has gone missing.  DH is going to one this weekend (it’s in the evening so I’ll be staying home with the kids).

Chaffetz, who should be fired and hopefully will not be re-elected because the people of Utah are basically good people, goes after Sid the Science kid.  He’s also launching yet another investigation of hillary clinton’s emails because I guess he’s hoping that will deflect the fact that he’s not only not @#4ing doing his job but that he’s going to be largely responsible for the @#$23ing mess that Trump is being allowed to do.  There are links to those statements, but I’m too depressed to dig them up.  @#$22 Chaffetz.

Trump’s conflicts of interest ARE SCARY.

Republicans gonna repub.

More white supremacist neo-nazis on campus (aka the f-ing neonazi alt-right)

Why gamergaters become “alt-right” neonazis.

Idaho tried and failed at creating a better plan than the ACA.  That’s because the ACA is the best right-wing plan that there is.  (A better plan would be single-payer, but that would eliminate an entire industry which would do bad things to the economy in the short-run.)

This is frightening and funny at the same time.

MEETUP has joined the #resist movement.  Seriously, MEETUP.  Check them out for things near you!

We are awake and we are angry.

What just happened?  H/T Bogart.

Universities didn’t turn left, the right turned imbecile.  OMG, I have heard so many stories about my congressman in the past week.  No wonder he isn’t coming out to the college town that is a big part of his gerrymandered district.

Sexist course evals.

This is a toolkit from the Immigration Law Center.  More info on protecting immigrants.

US Weekly sick burn.  (Also, excellent inveting advice)

Melinda Gates’ Birth Control pledge.

This is a smart comment and also why I’m pushing my kids so hard in K-12.

At some point in the future I will blog about adventures in trying to find a new flatware set.  But today is not that day.  Here’s a link to another review, though.

Today’s out-of-context internet quote that inspires productivity: “i prefer eating Belgian chocolate to get me in a growth mindset ”  Related:  coffee shop for non-morning people.

This would have been a cool tv series, and I want to read the book!

There are worse hills.

Stay safe out there in the rain.

Pluto’s heart.

“Did you ever wish you could make scatter plots with cat shaped points?  Now you can!”

 

Things that negatively affect my mood

Lack of sleep

Lack of a feeling of control/feeling overwhelmed/being told I have to do stuff or that I’m not doing enough stuff

Having future deadlines but not being able to work on them even though I planned to work on them because other people have dropped the ball and there’s nothing I can work on in the meantime while I wait because I already did it all or I would have to get into the mindset for a completely different project and I just don’t have that mental load and I know everybody is going to get back to me at the same time too close to multiple deadlines and I’m going to be stressed out.

Eating sugar or refined carbohydrates and sugar-crashing

Low blood sugar more generally

Mild tummy aches/headaches

impatient drivers behind me who want me to risk my life making a left turn across traffic

Sometimes hormonal imbalances

Whining (other people’s not my own, and literal whining)

Mansplaining

Did I mention people flaking out on me?

Grumpy nation, what harshes your buzz?

Post Christmas Link Love: (Boxing day: the day we read books that came out of boxes)

They have always misunderstood our heroines

A little late, but here’s the 2015 Feminist Killjoy Holiday Gift Guide.  Smash the patriarchy, friends.

Another unwanted present...

Writing by appointment.  It works!

Comics to read after lumberjanes

Anatomy of a muppet scene

How to parse political polls

In the comments last week someone mentioned controversy about the mindset research so I did some poking around the internet, and this post is lengthy but really well worth reading all the way through.  It does a great job of pointing out how lab experiments can have multiple interpretations, as well as doing a good job discussing external validity.  Also Alfie Kohn wrote this article which is more nuanced and reasoned than any Alfie Kohn thing I have ever seen (which is not saying much), but he makes some valid points without going off into his usual potentially harmful hyperbole (Maybe that “Alfie Kohn will destroy your kids” article got to him, or maybe Salon has good editors).

People who love to sleep

Presented without comment

I wonder if he bought it from Cards against humanity

If you can’t find cold medicine that works…

I would totally watch that star trek episode

Nicole and Maggie discuss budgeting (both individual and family) and link a lot

I hate budgeting so much, as you will read in one of these links.  Basically I pay to not have to budget by saving a huge amount extra so that there’s always slush.  Technically, our spending is always one month behind our income, so what we did last month determines what we do this next month.  I can look into my check register and go, yep, we can afford more stuff, or nope, we need to cut back.  This only works because even when we were in graduate school and spent 40-60% of our income on rent for a 300 sq ft apartment, we spent a lot less than we earned and had a relatively large emergency fund (compared to our income).  Some of the sacrifices included not buying meat for so long that the first time I had a steak (to celebrate paying off DH’s student loans), I threw up.  That’s not normal.

What I’m saying here with this illustration is that 1.  I don’t do detailed budgets, and 2.  There are a lot of different ways to spend less than you earn and keep on firm financial footing for different people.  If one method just does not work for you, you can sacrifice in a different direction and try a different type of budget.

What you shouldn’t do, though, is to keep going into more and more debt (or not doing any saving for future you) through inattention to your finances.  Some system is necessary, even if that “system” is always to spend far less than you bring in.  Most people want to spend a bit more than we did while we were in graduate school at that income, and there’s no reason not to if you want to unless you really value not budgeting, which I apparently value more than I do red meat (at least on a graduate student stipend).

For a third note, 3.  Your system may change with your income levels and required expenses, and that is AOK.

Here’s where to start if you’re in debt.

Posts on whether or not to have a detailed budget:

Do you budget?  MSN Money used to have a fantastic post of Liz Pulliam Weston’s about when it’s ok to ditch the budget, but unfortunately that post has gone to the ether.  Nick from Step Away From the Mall did a nice summary of her post that you can read here, though he notes that this list is really a general budget, just not a detailed one. And here’s bit of a personal post (from when DH was unemployed and we had to keep a tighter rein on spending) in which I talk about how much I hate budgeting.  You can also combine a loose budget with tighter monitoring of spending as Leigh (who doesn’t need a detailed budget but enjoys tracking her money) discusses in this recent post.

Different types of budgets:

General guidelines

The general idea behind a budget is to allow you to balance all of your spending/saving needs and goals.  In general you will want to balance saving for long-term goals like retirement with medium goals like automobile replacement and with short-term goals like eating.  You want to do it in such a way that keeps you out of high interest debt and allows you to save for the future while still enjoying today as much as being a responsible adult will allow.

A good general guideline for people who don’t want or need to retire early is the Balanced Money Formula by Elizabeth Warren.  This is really  just the idea that you spend 50% of your income or less on fixed expenses (she calls these “needs”), things you would have to pay whether or not you have income.  Then 30% goes towards variable expenses (she calls these “wants”) that you could cut if you lost your job and 20% or more goes towards savings.  These percentages don’t have to be perfect, but if you’re a member of a dual income family then keeping to these guidelines will put you on a good track for the future while insuring against catastrophe if there’s a job loss in the family.  If you’re interested in the balanced money formula, Get Rich Slowly has some really great posts on it, including this nice worksheet from back in the day when JD Roth was figuring things out.

Another possibility to get those percentages for yourself for a general budget is to look at your specific circumstances in the case of a job loss or other emergency and do a financial fire drill. Think of the worst case scenario and run numbers for that, then based on that set your major recurring expenses like housing, car, etc.  It will also show you if you need to target debts or sell things you couldn’t really afford to get rid of regular payments and so on.

Some people argue that you should target only big expenses and let the little ones figure themselves out.  Others argue that the latte factor, money you spend on little things, adds up and is important.  Both these arguments have elements of truth and elements of untruth.  We talk about these two belief systems in this post on the latte factor vs. big item spending.  Here we address gazingus pins, which is a type of latte factor.

Detailed Budgets

As much as I dislike them personally, detailed budgets are incredibly useful and a really healthy thing to have.  Probably the most popular method of doing a detailed budget on the PF blogosphere is YNAB (You Need a Budget).  Some people prefer Quicken or make their own spreadsheets.  Some people just use MINT, though many people use MINT in conjunction with YNAB or Quicken.  MINT is great for tracking your expenditures by category and if you’re new to finances and use a lot of credit cards, it’s a great thing to just do.  However it’s not as good a budgeting software as YNAB or Quicken.  Ana talks about how she makes a budget here.

A zero-sum budget is one in which every dollar is accounted for.

Some people have strict envelope budgets.  Instead of dealing with spreadsheets and so on, they will have cash-only budgets.  This is especially useful if you truly have a limited amount you are able to spend without going into debt.  Once the cash is gone for the month, you’re done.  Some people allow you to take cash from one variable spending budget to add it to another (ex. if you spend less than expected on food, you can add the additional money to fun) and some people don’t.

One way to allocate “fun” money for non-necessities is the use of an adult allowance.  Adult allowances are also great for balancing “fun” spending between partners while keeping below a budgeted sum and removing resentment.  Here’s two posts on adult allowances:  In praise of DH’sHow they work.

What about that nebulous idea of “savings” and “emergency fund”?  Some people will include things like vacations and so on in “targeted savings” either virtually or in actual separate accounts and others will include all short-term savings into one general fund.  We talk about when to use targeted savings in this post.

For people who don’t use detailed budgets and can wing things because they’re already saving a large portion of their earnings, it may still be useful to compare the cost of things when trying to decide whether to, for example, hire a house-cleaner.  This post discusses how to make those kinds of comparisons.

Special budgetary topics:

Financial Independence

A good heuristic to reach financial independence, definition here is to “simply” save 70% of your income until early retirement (there are more complicated formulae as well, but they all require a lot of saving or a lot of luck).  Partial financial independence can be achieved at a lower savings rate and is a wonderful thing to have even when you’re still working.  We talk about how having partial financial independence as a goal can make your life a lot less stressful because you will not be trapped by a bad job.

Not spending can be hard, even if you know you have to not spend now that you’ve looked at your budget.  Here’s some recommendations for how to delay gratification.  One that works really well for me is telling myself I can have it later!

Blitzing with a spending challenge

Some people do spending challenges for various time-lengths.  I love reading about these and they can make really big changes to people’s mindsets.  (Please link in the comments for spending challenges you enjoy reading.  I also really like reading about “the compact.”  Here’s our challenge tag, but we do more than just money challenges and we’re not that interesting.)  They’re really great for stopping an addictive behavior or bad habit, such as buying clothing every weekend because you’re bored even though your closet is already full of things you never wear.  Here we talk about how maybe no-spend days aren’t really the appropriate length of time unless you have real problems.

How to deal with joint finances

We at grumpy rumblings are not going to take a stand on whether you should fully merge your finances with your partner or not.  There are a lot of different methods for sharing finances that we discuss here.

Ok, Grumpy Nation.  What have we missed?  What do you want to know more about?

Ask the grumpies: How to deal with anticipating/receiving difficult feedback

MidA asks:

[D]o you have any favorite past posts on receiving difficult feedback? I think some may be coming my way (though not sure what precisely–I’ll spare the backstory but suffice it to say that this is a surprise) and if I don’t have a gameplan, I’m afraid I may be noticeably holding back tears.

I don’t think we do have any favorite posts on that topic.

What I usually do that works for me (but may not work for you) is to go through every possible scenario including the worst possible ones, and then think about what I’ve learned and how not do do the bad thing again, how to put a plan in place, what larger problems does this highlight, are there structural changes to be made etc.

Usually the feedback isn’t as bad as my worst imaginings. And having a growth mindset helps to think of screw-ups as chances to change/grow/fix stuff.  Sure, maybe I did something stupid, but it was a temporary stupidity that has resulted in a learning experience for me or highlighted something that needs to be changed structurally.

As a warning though, admin often doesn’t like structural changes (even something as simple as getting a coffee maker that doesn’t set the office on fire when someone leaves a burner on) and sometimes will attack rather than explore their feasibility. That’s a sign of bad admin.

Oldmdgirl added this for when you don’t think the feedback you’re getting is actually worthwhile:

[E]ven if the negative feedback is a bunch of baloney, I recommend saying, “Thank you for taking the time to tell me your concerns. Do you have any suggestions on how I might avoid this happening in the future/ things that I can work on so that this doesn’t happen again?” Try to focus on what you can DO differently in the future. Take the focus off of who you are as a person. Depersonalize it. Then you can go stick pins in the voodoo doll you created for that purpose.

What do you do/suggest, grumpy nation?

I used to like people more

I have become quite the misanthrope.  (#2 has always been one and welcomes #1 to the club.)

That’s not to say I actively *dislike* people, just that I’m not seeking people out.  I’m not trying to get to know people better unless we hit it off right away.  I’m no longer curious about what makes most folks tick.

I didn’t used to be this way.  For the longest time as long as a person wasn’t a bully I would like them.  I liked crazy people who were always getting themselves into trouble.*  I liked people other folks would find annoying.  I liked anybody who would put up with me.

I think I figured out why I no longer like so many people.  Part of it, of course, is family life and work demands that lead me to not have as much time for other people’s craziness.**

But the main part, I think, and the part that came as a revelation, is that I used to have a growth mindset about people.  If they did something I found annoying, like constantly making the same stupid decisions that hurt themselves, well, that was something that could be fixed.  That was something *I* could fix.

But I no longer try to fix people, other than my students whose math anxiety I carefully remove as part of my job.  (That’s a healthy level of fixing people, I think, and they’re receptive and it’s necessary.)

And since I no longer try to fix people, that means any annoyingness, any self-destruction… that’s permanent, and not temporary.  It isn’t interesting because I’ve seen it before and there’s no reason to explore the insanity any further because there’s nothing I can do except be silent witness.  And I’d rather not do that.  Not when there’s work to do and family to hang out with.

Part of being older is realizing that I don’t like as many people as I used to… and more importantly, that I don’t really care that much.  (Though I do feel bad that I don’t care, to paraphrase Brittney in The Misery Chick episode.  Daria says that makes me a good person, even though I suspect I’m really not.)

*Disclaimer:  #2 was crazy when I met her, but I liked her because we shared hobbies and world-views and she was smart and funny and definitely not because I found her craziness interesting, because I didn’t find her craziness particularly interesting because it was too self-destructive and was definitely beyond my ability to even to try to change, though I did get her a book.  She helped herself with the help of professionals.

**Of course, we always like you, gentle readers.  Our readers are AWESOME.  Or at least our commenters are awesome.  We assume our silent readers are as well.  They at least have great taste in blogs, which is a good sign.

Have your views on or desire to hang out with random members of the human race changed over time?