“The countenance of one man brighten up another; iron sharpen iron.”~ Joseph Hill.
One of the problems with parenting is that you are mostly making it up as you go along. Children don’t come with a handbook. The way you were raised may influence you, but the world, the times and the social mores can change a lot in the two or three decades since you were a child. Should you make your child get involved in a sport, in music, pay for expensive dance classes when they would much rather (fill in the blank with tablet, TV, video games etc etc)? How do you know that your little genius could set the world on fire as a (fill in the blank: violinist; football player; gymnast) if they don’t have a singular desire to be involved in one of those fields? How do you know that it’s not what you wished you could have done as a child, that you are visiting your own unfulfilled dreams and desires?
I was fortunate to be in the room as the great musician/actor/conscious man Jimmy Cliff was interviewed a few weeks ago, and one of the things he said was that once you find your purpose in life, everything is easy after that. Which made me wonder if I had found my purpose. And if so, what is it? I admire those who live for a cause greater than themselves. They are activists for a cause, and they see the world through that lens. It defines them, and it directs what they do. Most of us are distracted by the plethora of things to be passionate about. Like a butterfly I am tempted by many different causes, and goodness knows, in our present climate there are so many things to agitate you.
Sometimes the biggest change needs to be within ourselves. It may seem to be an easier target than one of the larger social issues, but it may be just as daunting. The question is, how do you get motivated? Some of us need a good push from the rear, others need to be pulled, kicking and screaming. When it comes to health, many of us are quite satisfied to carry on as usual until illness or dysfunction confronts us with our poor lifestyle choices, and (if we listen) we are forced to find a new way to live; we join a gym or start to ‘eat healthy’.
For some, motivation may come in the form of promises of a better life; we sacrifice sleep and money to go back to school, and it is the aroma of a better-paying job, or the possibilities of a new career that are enough to keep you struggling on to your goal. But which strategy is the one that will work for you? And does it change according to the circumstance? I once found myself very nervous as I faced a big task ahead. It involved public speaking at a big event. My friend called to see how I was doing and very calmly reminded me of what I could do, her modulated tones were reassuring, her encouragement walked me back off the ledge. Later (after a successful evening) I thanked her for that approach, it had been just what I needed. Her sister overheard and complained that when she was panicked about something, how come she would get a totally different treatment, she would be whipped back into shape, told not to be foolish, almost like a slap in the face. Ah, said her sister, that’s because the calm approach wouldn’t work with you!
Nowadays people pay big money to have someone tell them what to do. Personal coaching, lifestyle coaching is a growing field. Whether it is guidance you need in being more organized; in getting a better job; in getting back into shape; in making healthier choices; in developing the self-esteem that so eludes you; there is someone who will charge you a pretty penny to better yourself. Book-stores have shelves lined with advice on all manner of topics. How do you go from a vague desire to change something about yourself to being disciplined and getting out there and just doing it?
There are two times in my life when I was successful in religiously going to the gym: once when I paid a personal trainer (can’t afford that any more, but knowing that your money will be wasted is a strong motivator!) and for a long period when I partnered up with a friend. The thought that she wanted to go to the gym even if I didn’t made me keep our work-out dates. And I am sure it was the same for her. But it kept both of us attending far longer than if we had tried to go it alone.
As much as we may love to think that we can make it on our own, we need plenty of ‘others’ in our lives. And you never know when it is that it is you that makes the difference in someone else’s life. Recently I had the opportunity of talking with a gay rights advocate, a woman who not only came out in her own personal life, but who decided that she would work to make sure others felt safe to ‘live their truth’. The life you change may be your own, but in doing so you may empower or embolden others to find that inner motivation that is neither a kick nor a carrot, but a fierce passion that burns from within. And according to my friend Jimmy, once you find that, everything else comes easy.
On this fabulous Friday morning, I hope you find the courage to live your truth (whatever it may be) and make those necessary changes that will improve your life. Don’t wait for tragedy to strike to provide the motivation! You can do it! And if you can’t, find a partner to do it with you, or as Solomon wrote “Iron sharpeneth iron”!
Have a wonderful weekend, Family!