The Language of Human Thriving

In a TEDx talk, the late Peter Benson, a leader in the positive youth development movement, once said,

I like to ask adults: “What is your highest aspiration for our young?” 

Some interesting things happen.

No one has ever said, “This child of mine, my fondest wish is that they will ace statewide benchmark math and science test when they’re 16.”


I’ve never heard anybody say, “Oh, my fondest wish is that this young person will help make America more competitive in the global economy.”

No, when you actually listen to people’s statements about their dreams for our kids, you hear a very different language. 

“Kids who experience joy, kids who are connected and engaged. Kids who fall in love with their life and all of life, kids with kindness, and generosity. Kids who are happy, kids who contribute.”

That is the language of human thriving.

The best, deepest learning facilitates personal and societal transformation.

We proposed a model to help young people to thrive by finding stepping stones from curiosity to career, building on Peter Benson’s work, as part of our work in Leadership Maine in 2012.

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