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  • The skills Aktion Club members develop

    Aktion Club members develop important social and emotional skills that promote meaningful connections with self and others. Club members learn to be mindful servant leaders who pause and welcome each new experience with non-judgment and acceptance. 

    There are four skill sets club members master through involvement in Aktion Club. They include: social and emotional skills, growth mindset, habits of mind and happiness habits. Each skill set is highlighted below.


    Accurately accessing one's feelings, interests, values and strengths/abilities, and maintaining a well-grounded sense of self-confidence.

    Regulating one's emotions to handle stress, control impulses and persevere in overcoming obstacles; setting personal goals and academic goals and then monitoring one's progress toward achieving them. The ability to express emotions constructively.

    Social awareness
    Taking the perspective of empathizing with others; recognizing and appreciating individual and group similarities and differences; identifying the following social standards of conduct; and recognizing and using family, school and community resources.

    Relationship skills
    Establishing and maintaining healthy and rewarding relationships based on cooperation; resisting inappropriate social pressure; preventing, managing and resolving interpersonal conflict; and seeking help when needed.

    Responsible decision-making
    Making decisions based on consideration of ethical standards, safety concerns, appropriate standards of conduct, respect for others and likely consequences of various actions; applying decision-making skills to academic and social situations; and contributing to the well-being of one's community.


    Individuals who have a growth mindset are resilient and view failure as an opportunity to learn a different problem-solving strategy. They’re lifelong learners who don’t give-up when faced with adversity. Individuals with a growth mindset learn to love challenges, learn from mistakes and value effort and lifelong learning. They’re also aware of their inner monologue and use self-compassion to promote a calm, clear perspective so that problem-solving and constructive action take place.


    Cultivating habits of the mind helps us effectively assess and solve complex problems. Club members learn these habits through their community-service efforts.

    These habits include:

    Persevering in task through completion: remaining focused. Looking for ways to reach your goal when stuck. Not giving up.

    Managing impulsivity
    Thinking before acting: remaining calm, thoughtful and deliberative.

    Listening with understanding and empathy
    Devoting mental energy to another person’s thoughts and ideas: Try to perceive another’s point of view and emotions.

    Thinking flexibly
    Being able to change perspectives, generate alternatives, consider options.

    Thing about your thinking (mindsight – understanding our inner voice)
    Being aware of your own thoughts, strategies, feelings and actions and their effects on others.

    Striving for accuracy

    Always doing your best. Setting high standards. Checking and finding ways to improve constantly.

    Questioning and problem-posing
    Having a questioning attitude: knowing what data are needed and developing questioning strategies to produce those data. Finding problems to solve.

    Applying past knowledge to new situations
    Accessing prior knowledge; transferring knowledge beyond the situation in which it was learned.

    Thinking and communicating with clarity and precision

    Strive for accurate communication in both written and oral form; avoiding over-generalizations, distortions, deletions and exaggerations.

    Gathering data through all senses
    Pay attention to the world around you. Gather data through all the senses: taste, touch, smell, hearing and sight.

    Creating, imagining and innovating

    Generating new and novel ideas, fluency, originality.

    Responding with wonderment and awe
    Finding the world awesome, mysterious and being intrigued with phenomena and beauty.

    Taking responsible risks
    Being adventuresome; living on the edge of one’s competence. Try new things constantly.

    Finding humor

    Finding the whimsical, incongruous and unexpected. Being able to laugh at one’s self.

    Thinking interdependently
    Being able to work in and learn from others in reciprocal situations. Teamwork.

    Remaining open to continuous learning

    Having humility and pride when admitting we don’t know; resisting complacency.


    According to neuroscience research, happiness is a skill set that can be learned. We can re-wire the brain for happiness by participating in specific activities and practices. Why is being happy important? When we’re happier, we think better, we connect more meaningfully with self and others, we retain what we learn, we sleep more soundly and we respond rather than react.

    The practices that help us grow happiness also help us develop empathy, compassion and kindness. Here are the 7 Happiness Habits based on neuroscience, positive psychology and mindfulness studies.

    Mindfulness, the ancient practice of focusing non-judgmental awareness on the present moment and thoughts, is increasingly recognized in today’s scientific community as an effective way to reduce stress, increase self-awareness, enhance emotional intelligence and effectively manage painful thoughts and feelings.

    Research has found that gratitude can significantly increase your happiness and protect you from stress, negativity, anxiety and depression. Gratitude practice is one of the easiest ways to counter the brain’s negativity bias or the tendency to cling to the negative.

    Physical Wellness
    According to research, if you have a good sense of well-being, it’s easier to maintain good habits such as exercising, eating a balanced diet and getting enough sleep. People with optimistic mindsets are more likely to engage in healthy behaviors because they perceive them as helpful in achieving their goals.

    Giving Back, Altruism
    Happiness and altruism are intimately linked. Doing good is an essential ingredient to being happy, and happiness helps spark kindness and generosity.

    Science suggests that how we spend our time and resources is as important, if not more important, than the amount of money we make. Giving to others releases endorphins, activating the parts of our brains that are associated with trust, pleasure and social connection.

    Authenticity, Vulnerability, Forgiveness
    What lies at the root of social connection? The ability to be vulnerable and courageous enough to be your authentic self. When you embrace an authentic and vulnerable stance to life, people will meet you there in that openness, allowing you to experience true connection.

    Forgiveness is a byproduct of living authentically and vulnerably. Forgiveness offers patient encouragement of growth. Practicing forgiveness not only benefits the person you forgive; research shows that it has tangible benefits allowing one to let go releasing anger and resentment.

    Social Connection, Empathy, Compassion
    When connection with others is present, it can boost mental and physical health and increase immunity and longevity. Our happiness depends on the happiness of those we are connected to. Science shows that through practicing happiness, we make those we meet happier. Happiness is contagious!

    Meaning, Purpose, Strengths, Success
    Happiness fuels success, not the other way around. Science has shown that, “The brain at positive is 31 percent more productive than at negative, neutral or stressed,” reports Shawn Achor, a happiness researcher and author of the Happiness Advantage. The type of work you do is key: Engaging in meaningful activity is a big indicator of happiness.

    Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning
    Visit the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL) to learn more about how social and emotional skills make a difference in a young person and their future.

    The Mindset Scholars Network

    The Mindset Scholars Network’s mission is to advance our scientific understanding of learning mindsets in order to improve outcomes and expand educational opportunities. It conducts original interdisciplinary research, builds capacity for high quality mindset scholarship and disseminates the latest scientific knowledge through outreach to education stakeholders. Learn more about growth mindset here.

    The Institute for Habits of the Mind
    The Institute for Habits of Mind offers professional development through virtual media, workshops, consultations and conference. Learn more.

    Project Happiness

    Multiply the number of social and emotional skills club members learn by getting your happy on and using Key Club's Guide to Project Happiness. Learn more about integrating happiness into your life at      

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