I wrote this piece a little over 5 years ago when I was pregnant with my daughter. At the time, it was called “10 Things I Want My Daughter To Learn.” I figured this list might change after she arrived, but it did not. I then figured this list would change when my son arrived, but it did not. Alas, enjoy this repost with a different title – 10 Things I Want My Children To Learn:
1. Your health is the most important thing you can ask for in life. My father (your grandfather) was diagnosed with terminal cancer when I was only eight years old. He would be here to meet you today if it weren’t for cancer. That designer outfit might seem really important to you one day, but I assure you, that without your health, that outfit (or any other possession, for that matter) will be meaningless. Cherish your health, and take care of yourself.
2. Always keep things in perspective. On that note of health being most important. Never, ever sweat the small stuff. It’s not worth it. You will encounter many challenges in life, both big and small. How you accept those challenges, and what you define as a “big” challenge, is entirely up to you. If it won’t be a big deal in five years from now, it shouldn’t be a big deal today either.
3. Be a good person. No matter what. If you have to think twice about whether something is right or wrong, it is probably wrong. There will be a lot of shitty people in this world who may try to deter you from being a good person. Don’t let them. Always do what is right, and act with integrity. If your moral compass never waivers, you will build fruitful relationships, and you will be able to sleep soundly at night. But on that note…
4. Learn to say no. When you are a good person, there will always be people in this world who are either selfish, or mooches, and they will try to take advantage of your good nature. Give kindly to others, but know when too much is too much. Learn to say no, and learn to walk away when needed–with love.
5. Be yourself. It may take until you are 20, 30, 40, or even 50 to know who “yourself” really is–to become self-aware. On your journey of discovering who you are, I will always support you. Don’t ever change who you are, to adapt to anyone around you. Stand tall in a room, let your light shine, and never be afraid of being your authentic self.
6. Smile! One of my math teachers in high school once said, that if we were ever frustrated with the math challenge at hand, that we should just smile. Whether it is a real smile or a fake smile, smiling releases serotonin, the body’s “happy chemical.” I still believe him. So smile to yourself, and smile for no reason at all. Smile to the people around you too–it costs nothing but the payoff to the recipient is huge.
6. Be positive, be optimistic. This is the single, most important thing that will determine your happiness in life. True happiness comes from within, and I believe, comes from a glass-half-full outlook. One of the greatest of all human emotions is the anticipation of what is to come. This doesn’t exist without optimism. On that note…
7. Nobody likes a complainer. If you need to get something off your chest, or if you feel that a situation can be improved–do not ever hesitate to express yourself with honesty. But, be objective, and offer a solution. If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem–and nobody wants to hear an incessant complainer. It is absolutely energy sucking. But I know that you won’t be a complainer anyway. So what I’m really saying here, is don’t let the complaining type take any of your positivity, light, optimism, or energy.
8. There are mean, angry, and hurtful people in this world. If you ever feel mistreated by one of them, I assure you, it has nothing to do with you. It is not personal. Their attitudes may be the result of a tough childhood, insecurities–you never know unless you have walked a mile in their shoes. Treat these people with just as much love and respect as you would anyone else–they need it the most.
9. Seek your potential. Whatever that potential might be. Whether you are meant to be an artist, an athlete, a doctor, a writer, or a singer. Whether you are meant to be book-smart or street-smart. Whatever you choose to do in this life, work as hard as you can at it. You never know where your potential lies unless you chase it; and true self-confidence comes from knowing that you always tried your best.
10. Work hard for yourself. It is always nice when someone else is proud of you, and I promise you, that I will always be proud of you. But I want you to be proud of yourself. Whatever you do in this life, do it for yourself. Not for me, not for your teacher, not for your boss, and not for anyone else that may mentor you along your life’s path. Work as hard as you can, and put your soul into whatever you are doing, but always do it with the goal of your own self-satisfaction.