The Optimalist
The Optimalist Podcast
Podcast Ep 16: Resistance, Self-Discovery, & Rethinking ‘Soft Skills’ w/ Athea Davis

Podcast Ep 16: Resistance, Self-Discovery, & Rethinking ‘Soft Skills’ w/ Athea Davis

Athea Davis is the Director of Social and Emotional Learning for a K-8 charter school district in Houston, Texas. She's a mindfulness educator, author of Today's Gonna Be Awesomesauce: Daily Meditations for Youth, Parents, and Families, and she’s the creator + host of the podcast, Mindful Living with Athea Davis. 

Today, Athea shares her personal journey of discovering mindfulness during a challenging time in her life. She explains how she became curious about teaching these tools to children and went on to become a certified yoga teacher. Her book and podcast serve to share her teachings and support others. Athea’s journey is not just about personal transformation, but also about modeling that transformation for those around her. She actively shares her insights on social media and engages with others, provoking thought and inspiring intentional living. Athea’s story demonstrates her deep commitment to helping others through mindfulness and serves as an invitation to join her on this journey.

Listen as Athea and I discuss modeling the things you want to teach, the connection between self awareness, insecurity, and fear, and the idea that SEL and Emotional Intelligence are still seen as “soft skills” when we know they are just the opposite. 


(0:03:32) Trauma and bouts of mental health struggles

(0:07:21) Teaching mindfulness beyond trauma: Challenges and resistance

(0:09:20) Challenging experiences as opportunities for self-discovery

(0:11:34) Journey towards self-awareness and personal transformation

(0:15:57) Importance of curiosity and self-awareness in personal growth

(0:18:46) The Physical Barrier of Self-Awareness

(0:21:12) Recognizing Alignment and Curiosity in Self-Awareness

(0:26:32) Rethinking Soft Skills: SEL and Emotional Intelligence

(0:27:21) The Importance of Soft Skills in a Technological World

(0:29:57) Understanding the Interconnectedness of Emotions and Learning

(0:36:39) Amplifying Cognitive Abilities through Social-Emotional Learning

(0:42:00) The Power of Starting Small and Modeling Leadership

(0:48:05) Practicing Mindful Attention: Noticing and Mindful Eating

(0:50:56) Expressing Gratitude

Links Mentioned

Reading: The Hundred Dollar Startup

The Daily Stoic

Afghanistan: A Culture and Political History

Follow Athea on Twitter: @atheadavis 

On the web: Mindful Living with Athea Davis

Athea’s Attention Method - Mindful walking (requires no training) - just walk and notice; and mindful eating.  


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  • Music: “Goodnight, Shapeshifter” by MusicForNothing, used under Creative Commons BY-ND 3.0.

Audio Editing & Production: Tim Belmont (@tbelmontedu)