July 02, 2009

A Healthy Perspective on Life

During a recent conversation with my son I spent time trying to explain what it means to have perspective. In some ways it is a relatively sophisticated conversation to have with an 8.5 year-old. And yes, that half year is quite important to him, so I have to include it.

Anyway, I tried to explain that sometimes when you feel very strongly about something it can affect your decisions. I told him that this is why we have to be careful when we are angry or upset. We talked about how when you feel a certain way it is easy to say or do things that we might not be happy with later on.

He asked me if I was proud of everything that I have done in my life and I gave him an honest answer. No, there are some things that I have done that were wrong and I am not proud of them. But I told him that this doesn't mean that we have to be forever guilty of these actions.

And I told him that some times life is not black and white and you find yourself involved in situations you never could have imagined yourself being in. And that sometimes these experiences offered you access to life lessons that were very valuable.

Even though he is an old man of 8.5 I was careful to only provide as much as he needed to know. But I have to give him credit for pressing me to give him more information about what it means to say that life isn't always black and white. I love that he is so interested in learning more.

Clearly I am biased, but I was impressed when he took that information and told me that killing someone who was trying to kill a member of our family was ok.

As the conversation meandered we discussed failure again. It seems that one of the television shows the watches made a big deal out of it and he was very concerned with trying to find out what it means and how to avoid it.

I looked him in the eye and told him that there were things that I have failed at. A very sad look came across his face, he was clearly upset by this. So I did my best to make him feel better.

There is a difference between being a failure and failing. I want him to do his best at everything he tries, but I don't want him to be afraid to try because of a fear of failure. So I told him that I had more respect for the person who makes an attempt and fails than the person who do not. I believe in Teddy Roosevelt's position quote:
“Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checked by failure...than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.”
I suppose that it is part of why I don't just give in or give up, but that is a post for a different time.

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