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Self-help Principles Make An Impact On Catholic Youth

Young Catholics from Mandalay archdiocese say they gained insights on effective living from a self-help seminar organized as part of their annual youth gathering.

"In the past, although I knew that I needed to set goals for myself, I didn't know how to go about doing that," said 19-year-old Chan Myae Kyaw. "Now I am able to set my mission and goals more clearly."

He was one of 230 Catholics aged 19-26 from various parishes who attended the seminar that the Mandalay Catholic Youth Commission organized on the book "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens." Sean Covey, who wrote the book, is the son of American author Stephen Covey, who wrote the best-selling "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People."

The seminar, held in January at Chaungyoe parish, featured presentations by Father Cyril Myint Soe from Mandalay archdiocese, Father Brian Ba Nya Nwe from Mawlamyine diocese and Raymond Min Han Htoo of Swe Thahar (friendship), a group that specializes in the personal development of Catholics. Dominic Thiha, 31, a seminarian of the archdiocese, joined the younger participants. He told UCA News that youth in Myanmar generally feel uncomfortable discussing their personal challenges with others.

 Most of them "don't share openly and don't have the courage to share," he said, adding that this "might be the result of our customs and cultureAccording to Thiha, the skills taught in the book can help young people to take charge of their lives and can be acquired by everyone. "I want every youth to know these skills," he addedReferring to a lesson from the book, he stressed that if people stay inside their "comfort zone," they will not achieve anything. They must take on new challenges to move into the "strength zone" and be successful, he saidThe seven "habits" listed in the book are: Be proactive; Begin with the end in mind; Put first things first; Think "win-win"; Seek first to understand, then to be understood; Synergize; and Sharpen the saw.During the seminar, members of Swe Thahar told participants that living life effectively also requires regular self-renewal.

They referred to "the seventh habit," which recommends that one regularly renew and strengthen the four key dimensions of one's life: body, brain, heart and soul. It says these can be renewed, respectively, through adequate exercise, rest and a healthy diet; learning new skills; building relationships, serving others and experiencing laughter; and meditation and prayer
While Chan Myae Kyaw found the injunction to "begin with the end in mind" to be the "most interesting" habit for him to work on, Zar Gyi Lynn, 20, from Mon Hla parish, was impressed more by the first "habit," being proactive. "Taking responsibility for our life is what I like most," she told UCA News.

Most people do not admit their mistakes. They are afraid to be responsible. After this lesson, I have the courage to take responsibility (for my actions)," she asserted.

Other participants who spoke with UCA News highlighted other habits. Sandar Ko, 23, from Ye-U parish, thinks that beginning with the end in mind will help her "achieve success in life by working step by step toward my goal." She also thinks other young people could profit from learning what she learned. "I would like to help other youths from my parish to gain control over their lives," she said.

Mary Thaung, a youth worker from Monwya parish, was particularly inspired by the "habit" of putting first things first. Like Sandar Ko, she also hopes to help others live more effectively. She said: "When I go back home, I'll share my knowledge with the youth and children. It is useful for their future.". [See Photos]