I have a habit of watching Dr. Phil on OWN while eating my lunch. I am quite interested in the quirkiness of human nature and so I find his program to be informative and enjoyable. Recently it featured a father who was attempting to reach out to his estranged children. The man had admittedly done some horrible things to his kids in the past, but he had reached the point of wanting to repair his relationship with them. Most of his children were willing to give him a second chance, but one of the daughters indicated that she would never be able to get over his angry words to her in a letter that he once sent. Dr. Phil argued that there was no way to change the past, and that the only means of moving forward would be to start with a clean slate devoid of recriminations.
This reminded me of a meme that I had seen on Facebook. It said that life is like a camera. We should focus on what is important, capture the good times when able and develop from the negatives. Ultimately we always have a chance to take another shot if we don’t like what we’ve seen of ourselves before.
As a teacher I often encountered students who wanted to just give up and run away from their problems. They had been so battered by disappointments and failure that they thought it impossible to ever find the success that they so desired. It became easier for them to just quit expending any kind of effort. Being the class clown or a withdrawn rebel felt more secure that risking the possibility of falling short again.
We see people who appear to be doing well and we all too often attribute their success to innate abilities, luck, wealth, privilege or other outside forces. If we took the time to really get to know them we would no doubt find that they work hard at improving themselves and their attitudes. As the KIPP Charter school mantra explains there are no shortcuts in life.
I particularly enjoy a Gatorade commercial that focuses on how some of the premier athletes overcame failure. Michael Jordan didn’t make the high school varsity basketball team so instead of just resigning himself to his fate he practiced and kept trying until he managed to prove that he was worthy. J. J. Watt was a football team walk-on whose penchant for hard work eventually made him a super star.
I know a young man who loves sports but is rather small for collegiate or professional teams. Still he wanted to be on the Rice University football team. When he approached the coach with a request to try out nobody thought that he had a chance. He was dwarfed by the other players even though he was muscular. He was just so incredibly short that it seemed that he would be of little practical use to the team. Nonetheless he was persistent and proved to both the team and the coach that he was serious. He began to train and practice with the group and had soon earned their full respect. He worked as hard and long as anyone and never requested any special favors. He was willing to take the same blows and critiques as his larger teammates. The coach soon realized that this athlete was incredibly special and gave him a shot.
The moral of all of these stories is that we always have time to change and find unique ways to fulfill our hopes and dreams. We really do have the power to transform and become better versions of ourselves. It is never too late to be what we want to be, but it will take effort and concentration.
We often sideline ourselves by being distracted by life events that are not all that important. As the meme suggests we must focus on what we really want to accomplish and understand that doing so will most assuredly take hard work and sacrifice. Very little in life comes easily for anyone, even those who appear to be floating effortlessly through every challenge. I have found that we don’t often see the blood, sweat and tears that those around us are expending. A perfect example came to me when I learned that several of my high school classmates had literally made themselves ill attempting to be outstanding students. I had assumed that they were simply way smarter than I was because they appeared to catch on to concepts so much more quickly than I did. I found out that they were working so hard that they stressed themselves into anxiety attacks and exhaustion. They had to learn how to balance their physical, emotional and intellectual pursuits just as I did.
We are often inclined to only recall the negative aspects of our daily routines. If something bad happens to us we forget the hours of delight that we enjoyed before we were beset with a negative experience. We all too often judge our lives based on what we don’t have rather than what we already possess. We forget to capture the good times and don’t always remind ourselves that our cares and woes are mostly just temporary.
Nobody among us is immune to mistakes. Every single person messes up at some time or another. We feel guilt and regret over our disasters when the correct response should be to learn from them and then move on. I have generally found that I became stronger from my failures than I might otherwise have been. They not only grounded me but also taught me important lessons. As long as we are able to grow from our misfortune, we will be able to put it behind us. If on the other hand we just dwell on the negativity and wallow in self pity we will be trapped in a state of sorrow and maybe even despair.
It’s humbling to find ourselves in situations in which we are struggling. We all want to feel good about ourselves and that is a difficult thing to do if we just can’t seem to get some task right. We worry that we are less than and our confidence takes a ding. The best among us know that this is the time to take another shot. They have learned that with determination and a willingness to keep trying they will eventually conquer even their gravest fears.
I love superheroes like Batman. He was filled with angst because of terrors from his childhood. In spite of being enormously wealthy he was unable to tap into the person that was trapped inside his soul. Not until he faced his demons and worked to overcome them was he able to release his full potential. It is like that for all of us. We have the power or the force if you will to accomplish incredible things if only we think of that camera and the many shots that we have to find our ultimate inner beauty.