“Life is hard, and then you die.”
Many of you will recognize the above quote as one I use frequently. It’s really not that I’m a pessimist, it’s more that I’ve come to the conclusion that the sooner you embrace that thought, really take it to heart, the easier life is. Life is hard…( wonderful, exciting, challenging)…but hard. If you live for any length of time… people you know will die, jobs will be lost, illnesses will occur, hearts will be broken and dreams damaged. People are messy (both emotionally and in the kitchen).
Denying this reality, to ourselves or to our children, doesn’t create happiness and contentment. In fact, it frequently creates the opposite. When we teach our children to expect life to be easy they can feel extremely disappointed and put upon when it is not. If we lead them to expect that they should always be entertained, happy, and healthy we are setting them up to become demanding little monsters (lovable monsters but…) I certainly don’t mean to imply that we should teach our children negativity, but that we should teach them that life is full of hard parts…and while we can’t control that, we can control our attitudes.
It would benefit each of us to remember that life is not meant to be a smooth road. It is the detours and bumps that stretch and grow us up. It is the persevering and doing what is difficult, day in and day out, that builds character. It is modeling all of this with a cheerful heart that gives our children an example to follow.
We have all seen our children struggle with a subject and start down their own self-defeating path. “It’s too hard.” “Other kids don’t struggle with this.” “I’ll do it tomorrow.” “I’ll never understand it.” They can get themselves so worked up that they waste an hour doing nothing but feeling sorry for themselves. In that time they could have finished the assignment four times over. The fact that the lesson was hard, made them feel they should be allowed to just give up. It’s at these times I would look over at my sons and say.”Life is hard, then you die.” They would laugh, they knew I didn’t mean all of life is hard, but that hard is part of life, and the more challenges we take on, the more we accomplish, the more we are going to bump up against hard parts. (more…)