Victor Küppers

Teacher and writer

"Education is done with love, lots of love, and time, lots of time"

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I've always given my children the following three pieces of advice. The first is to develop goodness, to be good people. In life, talent and money are important, as is the work you do. However, being a good person is much more important. You can't be a good teacher and a bad person at the same time, or a good partner and a bad person. The second piece of advice that I give them is never to lose joy. Being happy helps a lot in life. However, this means having a zest for life rather than being amusing. You have to try to live life in a joyful way by learning how to focus on positives rather than negatives, as this is not something you're genetically pre-programed to do. When you're happy, your relationships with others will be better as you'll get angry less. You have to assume that life will involve things you like as well as things you don't like. Some people strive to live life joyfully by trying to be less angry and by valuing positives. And the third thing I tell them is that when you have a job and you are working, it is not about trying to do extraordinary things, but about trying to do the small things in an extraordinary way.

You have to be prepared to go against the flow in order to live a life of hope and happiness, and that's not at all easy. It is a lot of harder to be an optimist than a pessimist. However, if you try hard enough it's worth the effort. How to be happier and more optimistic. Basically, you have to choose to be happy. Some people are committed to living a joyful life. They fail once and they carry on, then they fail again and they keep trying. They continue to smile, despite all their personal and professional problems. They gladly keep on working and conveying optimism, even at six o'clock in the morning. How do these people do it? Because if they can, we all can.

You must never lose hope, never. If you lose hope, it's over. It's true that the society created by previous generations is complicated and difficult. The way it's structured doesn't help young people, but you have to keep fighting. Think of it this way, if you lose your desire, you've lost the best virtue you had. There's a formula that says you are worth the sum of your knowledge, skill or experience, as well as the sum of your attitude or disposition. However, your attitude is what counts the most as the difference between being great and being mediocre lies in your attitude or way of seeing the world. When you become dispirited, you don't lose your knowledge or experience. You can feel really despondent but still continue to learn. Remember, if you lose your desire, you lose the best virtue you have, which is your attitude or disposition. If this happens, you become just one of many rather than an exceptional individual and you become mediocre in what you do rather than amazing. Life is about your state of mind. Teachers and those of us who are lucky enough not to be experiencing any major dramas at the moment have a job to do, which is to encourage others to keep trying. This is one of a teacher's most important tasks. You also have to look at what your objective in life is, what motivates you. Teachers have to try to help young people find their way in life, because many of them are confused about what they want to do. I've always thought that you can be happy in life if you can find meaning in it, what we call a vocation, and each person's vocation is different. Teachers also have to help students find their vocation.

"The golden rule for communicating better is to treat others as you would like to be treated yourself."

A virtue that I would like my children to have is kindness. One of the character traits that all human beings share is that you feel good if you do something nice for someone else. There's no denying that. Anyone who's ever done any voluntary work will know that it's highly rewarding to do something for someone else. Your character changes when you are kind, as you become much happier. Being kind is also extremely beneficial in another way as, apart from making both you and those around you feel better and not costing anything, it also makes you try to be the best version of yourself you can. This is because, sometimes, in order to be nice, you might have to listen to or help someone, hold a door open or just be there for someone. You have to be patient and generous.

I believe that what makes a society rich is not how much oil or gas it owns, but how kind its people are. We need future generations to change society, and this is done through education. Being educated means saying «please» and «thank you», two words that might be removed from the dictionary due to lack of use.

Relationships need love and time to grow. One common sense rule that applies to all human relationships but that we forget about is that you have to nurture something in order for it to survive. This means that you have to make an effort in your relationships with your children, partner and friends because if you don't, these relationships won't last. You have to remember to show affection in your relationships with the people you love the most, and then it's just a question of time, and if anyone tells you they don't have time for their kids, they're lying. According to official statistics, in this country people watch an average of four hours of TV per day; that's four hours, per person, per day. And some people still say they have no time. As parents and teachers, it's our job to educate, and this takes a lot of love and time. There's an old wive's tale along the lines of «quality time rather than quantity» that someone invented to ease their conscience because, if you give a plant two drops of water a month it will die, even if the water is of the highest possible quality.

The role of a leader is to influence, inspire, communicate with, animate, galvanize, motivate and help others, and how you influence people depends on how you behave yourself. We all exhibit two types of behavior, the first of which is rules-based. You have to follow the rules in order to avoid any issues. For example, you don't go to class in flip-flops and bus drivers have to stop at bus stops. The second type of behavior is spontaneous. It's doing something because you feel like it. Imagine, for example, that a bus driver is between two stops when he sees someone running because they missed the last stop. He decides to stop and wait for them because he feels like it, not because of any rule; that's spontaneity. What you have to achieve as a leader is for people to follow the rules, but also to act spontaneously. A leader's main job is to get the best out of people. As a teacher, you have to help your pupils discover their strengths and be the best they can, and this requires individual attention, which is what makes a teacher's job so difficult. In order to be a good leader, you have to be passionate about helping people.

PhD in Humanities, Graduate in Business Management and Administration, university lecturer and trainer. and has written several books including "El efecto actitud" (The attitude effect) and "Vivir una vida con sentido" (Living life with feeling). Mr. Küppers is a leading expert in positive psychology and sees attitude as an important factor in both education and life in general.