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February 18, 2015

Turning what seems meaningless into meaningful

I have found that in asking myself one simple question – What would the highest version of myself do? – I have transformed my life and my knee-jerk reaction to particular events. For years, I struggled with knowing what was the right thing to do and how to handle certain situations. I discovered that in asking myself questions, particularly this one, I have been able to find all of the answers I need to make the right choice. For instance, when I am trying to figure out what to do with a friend, my husband, or one of my children, I take a breath and reflect on what the highest version of myself would do.

Wow, at first it completely sucked! I didn’t want to pick patience and kindness when my child just flunked a test; rather I wanted to act quickly, grounding him without any discussion. In asking this question, however, I found that I gained the composure necessary to sit with patience and compassion and ask my son about his choice not to study for the test, as well as create a teachable moment by explaining to him that hard work is an essential life skill. By focusing on what the highest version of myself would do, I have been able to make analogies that make sense to him, such as: though it may simply seem like a chemistry quiz, he should think of it as if he didn’t put hard work into his basketball practice, and as a result, he wasn’t ready for the big game.

Rather than sitting in his room being angry with me while I sit in the other room feeling frustrated, a lesson has been taught: working hard everyday and cultivating a habit of strong work ethics and perseverance will pay off in all aspects of life. Through such discussions, not only have my children learned, but I have as well relearned, that if you work hard for every quiz, you’re cultivating a habit of hard work and practicing how to give your best effort. We discuss that as a result, when he hits the real world, maybe knowing his periodic table will be of no help, but the lessons gleaned from the effort he put forth in that class and the effort that was excreted will serve a far more important lesson than can be comprehended.

Though this discussion may still end in a grounding of some sort, the process of getting to that decision proved much more fruitful. Instead of yelling and having no conversation, we will have had a meaningful conversation that put us on the same team, instead of setting us up to be opponents. It’s not about me reacting to his poor choices, it’s about me helping him think through making different choice which will, therefore, play out with different results. Rather than engaging in a fight, we have taken important steps towards understanding and respecting one another


Pushing positivity and life lessons has proved to be beneficial for my entire family. One simple step I have taken to create this atmosphere is to post motivational quotes on a blackboard I keep in our kitchen. Every few days I write a new quote that is somehow relevant to something we are currently experiencing. It’s funny, with teenagers, you’re never sure if they even read or notice these things. After implementing this practice into our routine, however, it has become normal for one of my teens to say “Mom, that quote sure has been up there awhile” if I let too may days pass. Two quotes I love, and that speaks to this situation, are:

“ In truth, the only difference between those who have failed and those who                                                                                                                                       have succeeded lies in the difference of their habits.”

– Og Mandino


“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
– Aristotle

I think instilling in our children the lesson that putting 100% effort into everything we do, whether for a chemistry test that doesn’t seem to mean much to them to practicing those three point shots for the next basketball game, it is all about forming habits that bleed over into everything. By teaching our children to give all tasks their all, they will be ready when the big tests of life come knocking at their door.