This week, my husband and I attended kid #7’s graduation. Yes, we have so many, they are now numbered. Actually, it’s become somewhat of a joke lately that I’ve run with. People, knowing that I have a bazillion kids ask me, “Now which number kid is that?” Brilliant! I thought! Number them. Now, now… I really am joking.
It’s funny though, as it seems with any number of kids, when you are rushed and calling for one of them, regardless if you have 2, or 8 (like me), you end up calling them the wrong name anyhow. I’m sure you have experienced being called any number of your sibling’s names by a frustrated parent. We usually just rattle off names until we get it right- but I digress.
Ian (kid 7), had one of the shortest graduation ceremonies that I have ever attended. This was wonderful, especially since we had to arrive hours early to get parking, and then sit on hard bleachers, waiting in anticipation with the swarm of other excited families in the stands.
The best part of the ceremony came at the end. The Superintendent of Schools quoted Dr. Seuss, and to my delight, in two sentences, he summed up a life lesson that is a key to success in whatever we do. In a moment, my thoughts of sitting for hours faded away as these words of wisdom, from an unexpected source, shot straight to my heart and made me aware of my appreciation for the experience. I couldn't help but ponder since then, just how many success messages did Dr. Seuss deliver?
The quote that started my philosophical journey at the graduation was, “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.
How many times in life do we get stuck thinking about the finality of a situation or experience, failures, or disappointments? Reflection is necessary in all that we do so that we can grow- but it’s the smile that follows that is the crucial part.
Every sunrise exists for you. If we think of each experience as our unique possession from which we have an opportunity to grow wiser and more knowledgeable, we are on a successful path.
Jim Rohn stated that “You can’t hire someone to do your push-ups for you.” We cannot experience someone else’s experience. It’s ours and ours alone. We must understand that every sunrise and sunset has our name on it to experience and translate what that experience means to us. In our translation, we have choice.
The choice to choose what meaning we derive from our circumstances, and experience is where people often get stuck. Instead of seeing the situation as a learning and growing experience, they choose to focus and get stuck on what has happened. They ask, “Why did this happen?” But they do not have any intention of truly answering the question- which is where we get our smile.
Every experience, is simply an experience. There are no good and bad experiences, just experiences. Good and bad are merely perspectives. What most would choose to perceive as bad, typically has great lessons associated- even if it is gaining awareness of the displeasure. We cannot grow when we harbor resentment, disappointment, or grief. This is how we get stuck.
If we instead look at the unpleasantness and ask how the situation could have been avoided or what could have been done differently, we have shifted to a productive mindset. A productive mindset is one that is continually producing a forward momentum of thought. Even in undesirable situations that are beyond our control, we can gain insight from how we perceive the situation and begin processing productive thoughts to remedy the situation in the future- this is where we gain control.
From a productive mindset, we are able to gain a smile following each experience as we realize it is our choice that puts us in the driver’s seat of life. It is our choice in perspective that will set us on the path for success.
Crying over what has just happened, puts us in a recessive mindset. Crying over our immediate experience can be an exercise in awareness from which to grow. In a current state of awareness we have the power to choose. When we are stuck reflecting on past experiences we cannot move forward as we cannot go back to change anything. We can, however, make choices, based on perspective, right now that will affect the future.
It has been said that we should climb mountains, not so that the world can see us, but so that we can see the world. “A moment’s insight is sometimes worth a lifetime of experiences. A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimension” Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
So who would have thought that the key to our successful thinking was actually provided to us by Dr. Seuss?
“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose,” Dr. Seuss. The choice to smile is yours. It’s all perspective. It’s all choice. It’s your success.
Jolene Church is a mindfulness practitioner, success coach, and motivational speaker with the National Speakers Association. Her latest book, Thinking 101: Fundamentals of a Successful Mindset, helps people break down conditioned barriers in our thinking that inhibits our success. www.SuccessfulThinkingMindset.com