Robert Frost gave us a peek into his way of looking at life when he said:
“What is required is sight and insight—then you might add one more: excite.”
Imagine starting the day with these three questions:
What will I see today? And how well will I see it?
What insight will I gain today? Insight into others, into myself…into life?
What will excite me today? Will anything stir me to my depths?
To slow down and quiet down and sit with those three questions perhaps for a few moments in the morning…not a bad way to get ready for a day!
Here’s a little different thought about how to succeed from Albert Einstein:
“Try not to become a person of success but rather try to become a person of value.”
I think we can see what he’s getting at.
It’s good and appropriate to receive the outward rewards of being good at what you do. But at some point, outward rewards alone don’t nurture the inner person. Don’t bring lasting fulfillment.
The deeper rewards and more lasting fulfillment come from knowing I am “a person of value”—and I have something valuable to bring to any job, challenge, relationship.
It’s about knowing you are a human being—the most valuable thing in the world—and you have human qualities to bring to each situation—humor, wisdom, imagination, etc.
It’s about knowing you are one of a kind—unlike any other person—and you have something unique to bring each day.
The one focused primarily on outward success may ride over an annoying customer because, well, where’s the payback?
But the one focused on being a person of value will treat that annoying customer with respect, even if there is no immediate payback. Because that’s who she is.
“Try to become a person of value.”
Can we sense the quiet greatness of this quest?
I would never presume to give advice to other parents. But I do think Fitzhugh Dodson’s words sound a relieving and realistic note and are worth passing on:
You have the right to make mistakes in bringing up your own children: Blunder bravely! Go ahead and make your mistakes, but believe more bravely that, on the whole, you are doing a good job of raising your children…
You have the right to be yourself. Allow your child to be himself, and you will raise a happy and psychologically healthy individual. The same reasoning applies to you as a parent. So raise your child in your own unique way. Have the courage to be yourself—as a husband, or a wife, and, above all, as a parent!
Look, it’s obviously a good thing to try to model and teach good values for your kids. I see many young parents today doing a good job with this—maybe better than we baby boomers did a generation ago.
But Dodson reminds us that, as parents (and grandparents), we may also need to just take a deep breath and relax once in a while—just be our own imperfect selves.
And our kids may be hoping we will!
I heard a speaker who said he wished he could go to parents everywhere and just say three words: “You are forgiven.”
The circumstances are never ideal.
If I ever follow that dream…or become my best self…or make a difference…or find joy and fulfillment…(put in here whatever goal you want to pursue)…it will have to be done in circumstances that are in many ways not favorable to those pursuits.
There will always be the drag of the ordinary, the drain of routine, the relationship problems, the work problems, the reasons to postpone or just go with the flow.
That’s why I like George Bernard Shaw’s words:
People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they can’t find them make them.
Remember the movie Dances With Wolves? Native Americans saw Kevin Costner’s character dancing around a wolf and gave him that name as a sign of respect.
Starting now, may we call you Dances With Circumstances?
Join the conversation!
Click here to comment
Welcome to The Living Conversation
For centuries, thoughtful individuals from many traditions have conducted a kind of “living conversation” about what it means to live wisely, live well and live fully.
Our blog brings that conversation to you every Monday, exploring some of the best things that have been said about the art and challenge of being human. These timeless insights can help us punch our inner “refresh” button every week.
Feel free to sign up and get our posts in your inbox. There’s no charge, no obligation, nothing to sell, and no hidden agenda. It’s just a conversation. Your information will never be shared with anyone, and you can cancel any time.