The home I grew up in did not applaud my lazy moments.
I feel that there is much pressure to make huge deals of things that not long ago fell into the “legally required to do” category.
“You passed kindergarten!!!! Congratulations for doing what you were legally required to do!”
I love anything school and accomplishment related as it concerns my daughters, but there is definitely another part of my brain that is making fun of things that might not be quite as big a fuss as we’d like to think.
“You participated! That’s the same thing as winning!”
“You didn’t commit any crimes today! Amazing job! Here’s some cake!”
“You obeyed the speed limit! Thank YOU for keeping the same laws everyone HAS to!!!”
I think my brain is just going to up and die one day if one more millennial looks expectantly at me for high praise when they do what we all used to do with no compliments whatsoever.
“But how could I possibly go on without encouragement?” The old fashioned way kids, working for food and shelter.
“You kept your job today? Incredible!” — things my mother never said. In fact I would have been embarrassed from the time I started working (14 if you’re asking) had she ever pressed me to tell her anything negative about my “work experience” at all. Work was something you did because, well, everybody did, not because you were looking for an amazing experience to evaluate later.
“I was charged too little and went back because I’m so honest!”
Terrific. You’re not a thief. You will rise high indeed.
Telling the truth was something we used to do because it was right, not because we got caught. I’m shocked that in one generation unicorns went from things that were in movies to things we think we deserve to ride, so to speak.
It will be hard to convince a generation to drink the kool-aid of doing hard things that are actually hard, but some are willing to.
I am purposefully a bit hard on the millennials in our circles because I think I believe in them more than some of their previous mentors. If you truly believe in someone you won’t accept excuses or Less Thans, you’ll only praise them for doing things that matter.
My father did not hand out free compliments, that’s why I felt good after earning one. It also prepared me for “adulting” (how is this even a word??).
Now I enjoyed the heck out of my childhood, but I certainly never wanted to remain a child because I would miss the freedom of being an adult. Of course freedom doesn’t mean what it used to. I wanted to grow up and do stuff, not grow up and do nothing! That the price was getting up early and sweating a lot never occurred to me because my parents applied a subtle pressure:
Today you can do more than yesterday.
I don’t mean just adding activities to your life and turning into another over scheduled crazy person, I mean adding value to your life by adding more value to others than you did yesterday. If that’s what my life currency is then I have to discipline myself and my schedule, always living a bit paranoid that I’m one revelation away from getting better and helping someone overcome something.
Ladies and gentlemen, this takes something we’re extremely stingy with:
Think about it.
We’re told today to carefully harness it and preserve it… for MYSELF.
“Make sure you’re healthy or…” is the threat.
Ok. Get healthy. Then what?
I think my folks taught me that health was for helping. That all the stringent, rigid, tough mindedness to bring purpose into focus required a massive outpouring of one renewable resource:
Want to know how to increase your energy? Pour it out into the right people and places. More will come back to you. That’s how energy works.
We try only resting when we feel depleted, but that’s not the end-all solution to a lack of energy. You need to try sowing what you want to reap.
Find a way to help people and get passionate about it. Get up every day and ask yourself “who needs my energy today?”. It will break the power of this selfish, entitled mess we’ve landed in where all the energy I have ultimately ends up back with ME. How unfulfilling is that?
Energy is a capacity issue you know. I do recognize some people naturally have more of it than others, but most of us had to get energy the old fashioned way:
We worked for it.
You know how I began to actually enjoy a life many might consider difficult? I poured energy into every day. And every day my capacity increased a little. Somewhere along the way I started liking hard things.
Some people are drained when the drive-through girl doesn’t smile at them just right.
Not me. I didn’t go to the drive-through for a smile.
I brought one with me:)