When I was a kid I’d spend hours in my room listening to music, playing with my dolls, doing a puzzle, reading…the list of things I enjoyed doing is too long to print up! The point being that I was able to entertain myself, without TV, for hours on end. However, this was before cable television and 24/7 programming. Because of these technological advancements, many parents now limit how much TV their kids watch. However, I know few adults, myself included, who limit the amount of television they personally watch.
The advent of cable enables us to spend all our free time sitting in front of what my father aptly named ”The Boob Tube.” Meaning, you would ended up a real boob or idiot if you sat in front of it too long.
The constant bombardment of advertisements between the shows makes too much television dangerous, not only to my intellect, but my pocketbook and waistline, as well. I come down with a serious case of the “I wants” when I watch too much TV. “Oh, I want that dress, that perfume, that extra large pepperoni pizza!” You get my point. And the phrase ”zone out in front of the TV” says it all. Do I really want to spend all my free time sitting on a couch, zoned out and disconnected from real life? Which, I’ve discovered, is definitely not represented accurately in reality television.
I’m not saying I’m going to throw out my TV. I’m just saying, I’m going to use it more wisely. After all, I wouldn’t sacrifice my kids creativity and individuality to the television, why sacrifice my own? Besides, I don’t know about you, but I have no intention of ending up a “boob!”
I can remember BEGGING my mom to let me do the dishes when I was a kid. For some reason it seemed like fun to me. That wasn’t all I longed to do. Sweeping up the fallen leaves, baking a cake from scratch and vacuuming were also right up there in the “please, let me do it” category. My energy knew no bounds.
Then I “grew up” and started complaining that I was tired and stressed out and depressed…you get my drift. In fact, I must confess, I’ve felt so “tired” the last few weeks that, not only didn’t I want to do the dishes but I didn’t want to do anything else either!
Luckily, I dragged my ass out of bed to have coffee with my friend, Kristen. She pulled me out of my slump with a magical observation… “When you are excited about things, you are full of brilliant ideas. You are MAGNIFICENT!” Wow! I truly felt magnificent, and, consequently, full of energy in that moment. The magnificence carried me through the rest of my work day and beyond.
But this observation is not for me alone. It is for each one of us. When we we look at the world with fresh eyes, magic happens. We can, once again, see the possibility in ourselves and everyone else. So, close your eyes for just a moment and, as you open them, say to yourself, “you are magnificent!” Even a sink full of dishes can’t get the magnificent down!
Kids live by their gut. When something feels wrong or right, when they feel pain or happiness, they sit up and take notice. If it hurts, they cry. If they sense someone can’t be trusted, they run away. But, over time and out of fear, most of us stop trusting ourselves. And that gut instinct that is meant to save us soon becomes a distant memory.
Ignoring my gut instinct is always where the trouble starts with me. The little voice screams “Don’t trust them” and it comes through loud and clear. Unfortunately, I drown it out with unreasonable reasons for ignoring it.
The writer, Hannah Moore, said it best. “The ingenuity of self-deception is inexhaustible.” But the older I get, the more I realize that listening to my gut and acting on what it’s telling me is the best way to personal satisfaction and happiness. The sense of freedom I feel when I do what my gut instinct is telling me far outweighs what I give up. And what is it that I give up? Usually, someone else’s approval.
So toss out your anxiety pills and tune into your gut. If that means laying on the floor, kicking and screaming until you get in touch with what your instincts are telling you, so be it. Once you know and act on the truth that lives inside you, you’ll feel the freedom you once felt as a kid. The rest is child’s play.
I dont’ know any young kids who hold a grudge. In fact, quite the opposite. They can be in a wrestling match for their favorite toy one minute, and best friends the next. Audrey, my 3 year old cousin, is the perfect example. Several months ago she got into a girl fight over a toy at pre-school. She came home with scratches and bruises – and the other girl didn’t fare so well either.
Audrey after the fight
Now, a fist fight between 2 adults would probably mean bad blood forever, even if it was over something so inconsequential as a parking space. But, back at pre-school, the two girls took up their friendship right where they left off. No hard feelings.
Why was it so easy for them to forgive and forget? Audrey has a great memory for anything we’ve ever done together, so I don’t believe she didn’t remember the fight. I think she just doesn’t dwell in the negative. There are too many fun things that life has to offer, including friendship, that’s more important to her than a fight over a toy. Luckily, her mother knows this, too, so the matter was dropped without further incident and life has gone on.
As the elections approach and political, ideological and religious beliefs are at a fever point As we try to find our way out of the war and into peace. As the world gets smaller and smaller because of technological advances, it’s more important than ever to practice forgiveness and, for that matter, tolerance. In fact, a little more tolerance would mean a lot less forgiveness would be necessary. But the next time you do have a fight with someone, take a page out of Audrey’s book, and pick yourself up, dust yourself off and forgive all over again!
If there’s one thing I don’t like, it’s hearing a kid whine. Ask me straight up for what you want and I’m usually receptive. But start whining or complaining and you won’t get very far with me. My dad used to respond to my whining with comments like “Want some cheese to go with that whine?” or, my personal favorite, “Keep it up and I’ll give you something to really complain about!” Lately, I’ve noticed myself whining a bit too often and I’m as annoyed at myself as my father once was. Enough already! My new response to the whine in my voice or complaints that run through my head is “Fix it or forget it.”
As an adult, I know that everything’s not going to go my way. However, the child in me still objects to this concept and I’m not the only one. The term “Me Generation” wasn’t coined for nothing.
Case in point, a University of Michigan study of 13,737 college students in the U.S. at the Institute for Social Research, found that young people today, compared to college students in the late 1970′s, are 40% lower in empathy than their counterparts of 20 or 30 years ago.The researchers reported than there has been a 48% decrease in empathetic concern and a 34% decrease in perspective taking between 1979 and 2009. The researchers also reported that today’s college students were less likely to have empathetic feelings for people less fortunate than them. Meaning they were less likely to “walk in the other person’s shoes.” In light of the state of our economy and the world we live in, those are some scary stats.
But all hope is not lost and I say this because of kids like Rachel Beckwith. This 9 year old asked friends and family to donate money to Charity: Water in lieu of birthday presents last year. Unfortunately, Rachel was killed in a car crash a few months later but her dream did not die. Her goal was to raise $300 and, after her passing, donations totalled $1,265,823. The legacy she leaves behind is something I will never forget. My mandate for the year? Stop whining and do something unselfish to improve the world we live in. I think Rachel would agree.