I challenge all my patients, young and old, to ask themselves this simple question often, perhaps everyday when you wake up. Stating the question another way, are there things in your life or your family’s life that you can change today that will improve your/their quality of life, increase your/their satisfaction, happiness, or sense of self-worth?
Maybe it is just a rhetorical question, but one we often ask ourselves one way or another; “If only I had that job, that car, that friend, that much money, that opportunity”, maybe I would be better off or happier. We find ourselves often, during our youth and into adulthood, trapped in the “W” cycle, telling ourselves that “what, when, where, why and who” is all we need to bring about a magical transformation in our lives that rarely happens
Creating lasting, meaningful change in our lives, begins with changing the way we see ourselves and the decisions we make in life. Many find comfort in going through life as passive ‘observers’ while the events around us determine are future. Maybe taking an ‘active participant’ role in your own life would bring about unexpected and desirable change?
A common axiom, often attributed to Einstein as a definition of insanity, though shared by many, asks “Why do we do the same things over and over again and expect a different result?” As humans’ we are conditioned by modern society to be creatures of comfort and routine, even if those behaviors are harmful. Pervasive in this digital age are gadgets and apps that bring us food, entertain us, and even communicate for us; many of our youth choose social media as a primary form of communication and never develop vital social interaction skills needed to survive in this competitive world. Many of us resist physical activity, interaction with nature, other people because of the ease we can isolate ourselves watching a digital window of false reality.
As a pediatric physician, parent, husband, brother, and son, over almost six decades have learned that considering a different path than that with which you are comfortable is the only way to grow, to learn, to transform yourself and your life for the better.
We as human’s have been given incredible capacity to learn, adapt, change, and take control of our lives, but it requires sometimes taking the path less traveled. Those are broad platitudes so let us get specific:
Even though a parent may or may not have finished his/her education, had a stable home or opportunities for personal growth, we must encourage our children to reach higher, study hard in primary and secondary education and be enthusiastic about achieving a college and post graduate degree. The US is plentiful in opportunities for all economic classes to achieve an education and improve their lives and that of their families. This was true long before social medial and remains true today.
Maybe you suffer from Chronic Disease, Diabetes, Heart Disease, Cancer, Mental Health, and low quality of life from disability, we as adults have an obligation to our children to provide them a home environment with high quality, healthy foods, security from Domestic Violence or other illicit activity and abundant green space for them to engage in frequent physical activity. Encourage our children and family members with positive dialog about the world around them makes them feel a sense of attachment to the exterior world rather than the isolation of a digital world where anonymity is the rule.
Greenspace is an ever-scarcer resource, though we are fortunate to live in a country where we still have rural areas and parks closely to take a walk, have a picnic ride a bike or simple sit and read a book. We have forgotten how to sit and listen to the world around us, opting for the rapid, meaningless, exchange of colorful digital nonsense, that the founder of Google once called his invention, ‘a cesspool of knowledge’. Knowing the difference between knowledge and wisdom is something we desperately need to teach our children.
It is challenging to ‘Live your Best Life Possible’, it requires honest self-assessment, brutal facts, listening, patience, honesty and above all love. The most successful lives I have witnessed are those where the parents have created an environment that welcomes open exchange of ideas, questions, suggestions, and opportunities in a non-critical way. Every family has conflict, it is how the family deals with that conflict, learns from it and changes their behavior that makes a difference. Choosing to start a new career, move to a new house or school, or even to a new country, are all significant life transitions that cause difficulty. However, having opportunities to grow and develop requires making sacrifices sometimes and the ultimate reward may not even be apparent to you.
Keep the faith that God has a plan for you and your family, pray that He enlightens you, listen to His words and allow them to guide you in the direction He wants you to lead your family. There is nothing stronger than a family who prepares well but places their faith in Christ accepting his grace into their lives. Recognizing the higher power influencing your life is an essential step toward change.