The three most important things in life (IMO) are:
- Love yourself
- Love your family
- Stay Positive
Years ago, I couldn’t stand it when people would tell me, “You need to love yourself before you can love others.” I was also irritated by people that would tell me, “You need to be positive.”
Realistically, I was more than irritated. I couldn’t stand positive people. Until one day, almost fifteen years ago, I confronted someone that I was friends with that was constantly upbeat. I said, “Do you really feel the nonsense that you’re always saying? Why are you always so positive?” It was a low point, trying to bring down a positive person. But misery likes company. And then I got the answer that changed everything.
He looked at me, pulled me aside, and said, “Because it is the only way I can move forward in life.”
I cocked my head and asked, “What is that supposed to mean?”
My friend went on to tell me that three years earlier, his fourteen-year-old son had taken his own life. That he had a serious reckoning and grew extremely depressed. He sat for a long time looking at photos and videos of his son and found himself dwelling on a life that would never be lived. Then one day, he woke up and said to himself, “My son ended his life because he was depressed. My depression could ultimately follow the same path, which would lead others in my family to be depressed. It’s a cycle, and I needed to stop it. I am not as positive as I appear a lot of the time. But, being positive forces my body and my mind to feel more positive about life.”
It was at this moment that I had my own reckoning: One, I didn’t understand what it meant to love myself. Two, I was comfortable being negative. Let’s face it, this is a negative world; we have news that thrives on negative opinions, floundering economies, global warming, and so on. Three, being negative and having children would only perpetuate negativity in my children. It could risk ultimately bringing them down at a time when they should be enjoying life. Our childhood is just a flash in our lives, and we deserve to enjoy every moment of it.
It is one thing to read the words: Love yourself, Love your family, and Stay positive, but let me break these down just a little bit.
Loving yourself: It does not actually mean “being in love with yourself”; that’s ego. Loving yourself means waking up in the morning, looking in the mirror, and saying, “This is the body I was born with. I can’t change that fact. I can eat healthier and be more active and take care of what I have. Being able to realize that there are things you have control over in your life and things you don’t. Concentrating on those things you do have control over will be loving yourself.
Understanding that today is not in the past and everything you have done up to today does not matter. Today is when you can change yourself and make tomorrow better.
Loving your family: Seems simple right? Not really. Loving children may be easy. They are innocent, unhampered by society’s crap, and have a new perspective on things. But those children get older, become teens, grow up (sometimes), and become parents (sometimes). Your parents were once in your shoes; maybe you don’t get along with them now. Maybe you do. They are sure to have judgments about how you raise your family and no doubt give you unsolicited advice. Loving your family means not judging them. It means realizing that they may have their perspective and opinion and that it might night jive with yours. They have their own experiences that they are drawing from, and their opinions are not wrong. They are just “their” opinions. Loving your family (blood-related or not) will set a good example for your children and ultimately make you happier.
Stay Positive: So now, reading the first two, you can see that staying positive isn’t a goal. It is something that happens if you work on the first two above. Staying positive is critical in its own right. Your children, as they grow, will find the harsh realities of the world around them. They will learn that other children are cruel, divorce happens, there is terrorism and war, and everyone judges everyone else. Being positive doesn’t mean hiding these things from your kids or pretending they don’t exist. It means showing that in the midst of all the world’s darkness, their father and mother (regardless of their relationship status)can be a beacon of light. Someone they can always count on and someone that will always listen to them without judgment (it’s hard, but it is most DEFINITELY possible).