Thursday, March 4, 2010
Kids can be mean
The mother in me wanted to boil. How dare any person call my dear daughter "worthless". She is a child of God and she is amazing. Instead of getting mad, I bit my lip and thought for a moment. We then proceeded to have a wonderful discussion about people and attitudes and how we give people the power to hurt and offend us. We talked about choice and about some things that she could say or do the next time she finds herself in that situation. Most of all, we talked about her worth and my love, respect and admiration for the wonderful young woman that she is becoming.
I can't fix this for her, or make it go away. It is something that most of us go through on the road to adulthood. I would protect her from it if I could. But than, I remember the growth that comes through the trials. The skills that come from the practice. The knowledge that comes after the faith. And I know that this is her time to learn and grow. It is not what happens to you that counts. It is how you react to what happens to you, especially when you are faced with unexpected difficulties and challenges.
Many people spend their entire lives searching for happiness. They somehow think that it is something to seek, buy, or even take. They look for peace externally. They search in dreams, activities and even other people, all the time hoping to find that which they seek, when really, the only person who has the power to make us happy is inside ourselves.
I shared with her my very favorite quote. I have it hanging up in my office to help me during those days when my own attitude is not what it should be. (We all have days like that now and then). The quote is by Charles Swindle and is well worth repeating.
"The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life.
Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company... a church... a home.
The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past... we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude... I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.
And so it is with you... we are in charge of our attitudes."
I would also like to share this story today. It is a different way of looking at a problem.
This short story illustrates that every one of us has the choice whether or not to take personal offense from another person's behavior.
It is said that on an occasion when the Buddha was teaching a group of people, he found himself on the receiving end of a fierce outburst of abuse from a bystander, who was for some reason very angry.
The Buddha listened patiently while the stranger vented his rage, and then the Buddha said to the group and to the stranger, "If someone gives a gift to another person, who then chooses to decline it, tell me, who would then own the gift? The giver or the person who refuses to accept the gift?"
"The giver," said the group after a little thought. "Any fool can see that," added the angry stranger.
"Then it follows, does it not," said the Buddha, "Whenever a person tries to abuse us, or to unload their anger on us, we can each choose to decline or to accept the abuse; whether to make it ours or not. By our personal response to the abuse from another, we can choose who owns and keeps the bad feelings."
Just in case you think I am totally heartless to teenage problems, we went shopping in town tonight (read forty-five minute drive) and got her a new haircut! It is amazing how a little change can totally give you a new outlook on your feelings. And of course, a little extra special treatment for an extra special daughter doesn't hurt either!