Every once in a while I like to reach back into my previously posted articles and pedcasts to do a fresh update. Bring some fresh perspective to a previous idea. That is exactly what we are going to do today’s post. I’m reaching way back to June 2012 and giving some fresh thought to an article that I originally wrote and posted when my youngest child was in college. The subject, life’s perspectives and how they change throughout our lives. I call these paradigm or perspective shifts. I hope you enjoy this edition of Portable Practical Pediatrics and take a few minutes to reflect on the message it imparts– A balanced life is a happy life.
Sometimes important thoughts take hold in ordinary moments. That was true for me when I was visiting my daughter one weekend during her college years, after lunch, we decided to go for a walk and check out the neighborhood. Remember, this is a college town and full of freshly minted young adults, mostly in their 20’s. As we passed along the streets and shops, I started noticing posters about social action meetings, storefronts set up for charity work, announcements for upcoming activists coming to town, and yard signs complaining about a new national business coming to town, threatening small local businesses. I started thinking to myself, “These 20-somethings are really fixated on issues of right and wrong and are very vocal about their concerns.” Their causes are important to them, and they seem to have a strong desire to fight for the perceived underdog, whether the cause is a poor child, a small business owner’s solvency, or an ethnic minority in the U.S. or abroad. Activism and was everywhere. It was palpable and being expressed everywhere.
At this point in our walk, I started to think about how people’s motivations change as they age. It seems to me that when we are children, life is all about the pursuit of play. Give us a few rocks and sticks, and suddenly there is a game going on. Having fun is a young child’s obsession. Every tree is a fort and every creek is an ocean waiting to be explored. As we enter adolescence and young adulthood, the focus of our passion shifts to the fight for justice that was obviously on display during my daughter and my walk in her college town. The next paradigm shift comes when we enter the working world and must learn to dedicate ourselves to work. Then comes the birth of a child. Suddenly, our paradigm shifts again. Now, we become preoccupied by thoughts of how to protect this child and help him or her succeed and be happy, now and in the future. Finally, after the little ones leave to pursue their own dreams, older people’s thoughts start to move back toward play and frivolity in the form of travel, sports, and just having fun.
Balance is the Key to Happiness
You might be asking yourself, “How do these paradigm shifts relate to a child’s ultimate happiness?” Well, I’ll tell you what I think. By the time your children become adults, I believe it is vital that they have a healthy balance between all these paradigms if they are to achieve long-term happiness. Having balance between the love of fun, a strong sense of right and wrong, a willingness to work hard, and dedication to family, produces happy, balanced, productive adult children. Too much play and those children lack drive as adults. Obsession with right and wrong and these adults lose their joy for life. Overzealous pursuit of money and power… well we all know how ugly that can be. It is my opinion that parents who are able to achieve a balance of paradigms in their children (an appreciation of play, a sense of justice and duty to those around them, a need to work hard, and a strong bond with their families) ultimately produce the happiest, healthiest, and most resilient children. And of course, the most effective way to teach your children these things is by you setting a good example for them. You are, and always have been, your children’s most important teacher. Take a moment to honestly assess if you are creating a healthy paradigm balance in your children and if you are not, take action today. Your children’s ultimate happiness depends on it.
I hope that you found this pedcast helpful. I got a little preachy. I know. I’m sorry for that but I think the point I was imparting was an important one. I would love to hear your comments on today’s subject so take a few moments and write a comment to my blog at www.docsmo.com. And while you are there, leave me your email address by subscribing so that I can send you an email when I post new content. I promise, that is all I will do with it. This is Doc Smo, broadcasting from studio 1E, hoping you take the time, to give your children a healthy paradigm. Until next time.