As a parent, I write to teach — to impart wisdom upon my daughter on how to live her best life. In doing so, I have been reminded of some wonderful lessons along the way, which I hope helps the adults reading this blog too.
I was recently reading to my daughter. She is eight and reading to her is a tradition we still maintain and cherish. Our recent book, Wonder by R.J. Palacio, focuses on friendship, fitting in, kindness and courage. In it, others mistreat the main character Auggie because he looks different. This brought my daughter to call out that some of the characters are “mean” and reference the concept of enemies. Her comment gave me pause. As a parent we want to protect our children and keep them safe and happy. At the end of the day, that is our very basic responsibility. There are and will be many teachable moments in this book so I figured I would dive in.
I told her that her heart was big, so big that there is room for everyone and that she should want to live in a way where there are no enemies (even when people are mean and unfair). Rather, I told her that there are people that will live very close to her heart and others that can stay in the corners or edges (but still in her heart). I said that you don’t have to be close to everyone. There are lots of people she will meet in her life and will need to decide where they fit IN her heart. Some will be close, others will live in a more remote spot, but the goal is to live compassionately and in a way that makes room for everyone. It’s important to remain flexible because kids/people grow up and change. I know I am simplifying a very complex set of circumstances and problems that we will all at some point face, but if we try to adjust our minds and live differently, it can be transformative. If we can simply open our hearts more, perhaps the world can slowly become a better place. You never really know what any one person is experiencing and you may not understand why they show up the way they do, but often times it has more to do with them than you.
So as reminders:
- Be confident in who you are.
- Embrace your differences-that’s what sets you apart and makes you special.
- Be kind.
- Act with courage.
- Stand up for the underdog.
- Let every tough experience make you more sensitive, positive and compassionate.
- And most importantly, make room IN YOUR HEART FOR EVERYONE.
By doing so, your heart will overflow and love will prevail.