Yes, here we are. Another New Year. Another trip around the sun. Lofty resolutions are made but often by the second or third day in, they’ve gone by the wayside only to be revisited 363 days later. Those ten pounds (okay, 13) really do need to come off. The caffeine habit? Well, let me make a pot of coffee and ponder my action plan. Develop healthy eating habits? Sure, but I can’t let these mint Frangos go to waste
What if we focus on a different type of resolution, one that is attainable and which may have a significant impact on your life? How about a resolution to become more Awake? Certainly there are mornings when coffee just won’t shake those cobwebs, or your sleep-deprived teen will not budge from their warm and cozy bed to attend school; yet that is not the kind of awake to which I am referring.
Recently I attended a Tedx Talk and as usual, there were many impactful speakers. However, one speaker in particular, Peter Himmelman, made such an impression on me it quite literally changed certain aspects of my life. In fact, as I listened to this man reflect, I felt compelled to write about his message as it relates to young people. I approached him after his Talk and we engaged in a wonderful conversation. He is every bit as nice as he comes across in his talk. Just sayin’.
Peter Himmelman is a former rocker who, through life events, has found himself starting a new chapter in his life. He is the founder of Big Muse (BigMuse.com) and the author of Let Me Out: Unlock Your Creative Mind and Bring Your Ideas to Life. Both of these resources encourage individuals to let go of their fears and vulnerabilities. This release will enable forward movement to help reach one’s goals. Reading his book, I learned about Himmelman’s own struggles. His honest voice helped me feel less alone in my entrepreneurial venture. I recommend this read.
Reaching our personal goals, whether it is to write a book, return to school, or improve our GPA, is often hampered by buried negative thoughts. Digging deep and figuring out where these fears originate and learning techniques to overcome them is crucial to awakening ourselves to our potential in life. I know for myself, the fear of failure is significant. However, through conversations with other educators, entrepreneurs, and coaches, and from the conversations I enjoyed with Himmelman, I have come up with a new mantra, “Failure is the new success.” If we do not fail in our endeavors, we do not learn. It is as simple as that. Debacles do not make us a lesser person, in fact, it encourages growth.
As he says, “The things we do, the actions we take, have a great significance. And in spite of the conclusions we draw from our many fears and our many failures, we truly matter.”
Recently Patti Smith was invited to sing at the Nobel Prize ceremony honoring Bob Dylan. What an honor! Her performance was beautiful and moving. Oh, yes, there was one little mishap in which she forgot a line. So what did she do? She stopped. Apologized. And moved on. What a remarkable example of someone we should aspire to be! Not only that, but her poise and professionalism helped shrink my fear of making a mistake on a public platform. “Perfect” is merely an ideal – it is not real.
Himmelman reflects on the idea that perhaps we are letting the busyness of life and the compulsion of technology get in the way of truly living. Technology also presents a false face of perfection among our peers. I know, I know, not a new concept, but he certainly presents a new perspective of this modern-day challenge.
He states, “We are called dreamers because we are asleep to the beauty of life itself.” He also observes, “We reach for our Facebook instead of reaching for our partners. We reach for our credit cards to buy things we don’t really need instead of our own creative spirit.”
In fact, Simon Sinek also reflects on this issue, especially when it comes to the next generation of adults we are cultivating. Human connection and innovation are suffering with all the extraneous disruption and disillusion this contemporary era offers.
Himmelman suggests that on rare occasions we all have fleeting moments of enlightened Awakening that strike suddenly. These are brief flashes of clarity about our lives that illuminate where we are or should be going. It is a moment of understanding of what our life is meant to be. We are Awake.
Using Himmelman’s philosophical approach, I have come up with suggestions on how to Awaken the young person in your world.
But first, coffee.
Take a break. Make it a family rule to leave the phones, tv remote, tablet, computers in a different room during mealtime. There is nothing more important than connecting with one another around the dinner table. Himmelman has an exercise in his book in which he recommends people disconnect completely for about four hours. Be mindful: get outside, take a walk, talk with a friend, and just plain think without distractions. It will help get creative juices flowing. Making a habit of unplugging for periods of time on a regular basis is a useful coping mechanism for decreasing stress. Model this technique and engage your kids. Personally, this is something I need to work on for myself. I enjoy watching the news during dinner, but is it really that important?
Talk about goal-setting
Your child dreams about their future. What they see and who they want to be is anybody’s guess, so ask them. Find out how they want to get there. As Himmelman suggests, ask “Why am I here?” Several years ago my daughter came home and announced she wanted to start a new chapter in her life. I asked her what her dream was. She stated she wanted to go to grad school in Paris. (Paris? Seriously?) Rather than choking on my morning coffee, I told her to get her computer out and start looking at options. After researching, she set a goal and two years later she realized her dream and graduated with her masters from a university in Paris. (Of course, there are still loans to be paid off. I wonder if we can dream those away….)
Find out what their fears are
What are their vulnerabilities? No one knows your child better than you, but no one knows themselves like your child does – respect their thoughts. Explore reasons for their fears and vulnerabilities. There may be obvious solutions to their fears, but sometimes just recognizing that one has those fears is enough to accept it and move on.
Talk about the advantage of failing
Instead of merely asking your child how school was that day, ask what they failed at/struggled with/felt frustration with….and what did they learn from it? Share with them an experience you learned from that day. Make it a positive conversation. Encourage and support your child as a citizen of the world who makes mistakes and learns from them. I love that my daughters share with one another the mistakes they have made in their professional lives – they have made similar mistakes, yet in entirely different professions. By opening up to one another they realized that their “mistakes” were perfectly normal – everyone makes the same rookie mistakes. Through those experiences, they learned valuable skills which eventually allowed them to get raises and/or better positions. In fact, one daughter works for a company that encourages mistakes; it allows for creative problem-solving.
Compliment your child on tasks that matter
We are our child’s greatest cheerleader, and that is terrific – to a point. Telling your kids they are wonderful at everything they do only breeds a resentful adult later. For a young child, for example, the act of putting on shoes is nothing to get excited about. However, your child helping another person put their shoes on is something to be acknowledged. People helping people is a life skill that should be nurtured.
Share with your child your own dreams and creative ideas and encourage your child to do the same. We get so caught up in the mundane day-to-day tasks that sometimes we forget to explore our creative processes as well. Ask “what if” in creative ways. For example, “What if frogs walked instead of jumped?” “What if the sky was yellow instead of blue?” “What if dogs could speak our language, what would they say?”
Talk about the beauty of life around you
In fact, start a gratitude jar for each family member. Everyday, have each person jot down an unexpected treasure or gratitude they experienced on colorful pieces of paper. Using a clear glass jar, collect these beautiful thoughts. Occasionally pull one or two out as a family and share. It helps people focus on the positive aspects of their world, not just the stressful pieces that piggyback upon our weary bodies each day. It will help offer a healthy balance in our perspective of the world.
Tell someone why you love them
Himmelman suggests to not only tell people you love them, but explain why. When I visited my daughter in NYC, I spent a small fortune on R. Nichols paper products. I purchased a few colorful greeting cards that simply stated on the front: Reasons I am Grateful for You. I took several weeks to painstakingly and honestly write out these cards to be given to certain individuals. My teenaged great-niece told me later she actually cried when she received hers. How impactful to have someone spontaneously state, in detail, why they matter to you. In fact, R.Nichols also has a line of notepads that allow the writer to list “Today I am Grateful For.” Such a great idea! (No, I am not endorsed by this company, but hey, if they want to talk…)
Talk with your child about listening to their inner voice
This is important when we talk about personal safety, yes. It is equally important when connecting to their dreams and desires. Encourage them to be Awake to whatever the universe may throw at them.
Teach your child to enjoy the simple things in life
We get caught up in the hurry-up-and-do, that we forget to slow-down-and-see all the beautiful things around us. Watch the snowfall, enjoy a sunrise, feel the warm, velvety summer breeze on your skin…
You may not lose those 10 (or 13) pounds. Your diet may not alter for the better. You may find yourself at the local coffee shop working on your second cup. But who are you with as you enjoy that shared dessert? Are you sitting outside enjoying a beautiful spring day as you sip your coffee and dream about your next entrepreneurial move? You may not reach all your resolutions this year, but kudos for trying. Enjoy the journey, and remember, you are “perfect” the way you are.