Being Kind or Being Right, a Parent Dichotomy

I recently read with my Son the Wonder Book by R. J. Palacio. The book is  about a child, Auggie, who has a disfigured face due to the Treacher Collins syndrome. The novel relates Auggie’s challenges to attend school, make friends and fit in society. The magic of the book relies on Auggie’s journey, touching hearts and changing people around him, making him a remarkable human being, a wonder.

Mr. Brown is the English teacher in the book. He provided a precept (principle that guides our thought and behaviors)  for every month. His September precept, and the first one given in the book, was a quote by Dr. Wayne Dryer:

WHEN GIVEN THE CHOICE BETWEEN BEING
RIGHT OR BEING KIND, CHOOSE KIND

It sounds beautiful. But in reality it is sometimes  hard for a parent. Can you teach a kid by being kind instead of right?

Yesterday, I stumbled open a story (or maybe a fairy tail) of the Babemba (or Bemba) tribe, which I was not aware of. The Babemba tribe is one of  the 72 tribes in Zambia, located in Southern Africa. The story inspires an incredible human way to deal when someone does something harmful.

The person that does something harmful is taking to the center of the village. The whole tribe surrounds him. The tribe members take turn to tell him all the good things he has ever done, how great he is, etc. The tribe believes we all come to do good and that we all look for safety, happiness and love. The tribe helps him raise his human spirit, connect him to who he truly is.

Today we don’t live in magical tribes.  Our houses have fences and we only see each other at neighborhood parties, kids activities, gym or at the pool in summer.  However, I am fully convinced that we can practice raising our kids human spirits even in the worst situations in our modern fast highly-structured world.

I tried to mimic in a way the Bemba tribe, with my small tribe, my three children. If someone does something bad that we don’t like, we very fast forgive and raise his spirit. And we do it by writing notes.

I recently wrote to my son the following letter, after he did something harmful (He hide my computer because I took his phone away). And, as a surprise, I put the letter in Mom’s home mailbox, when he was not with me.

My Dear Son,


I am so thankful to have you as my son. Because you are an incredible human being
You are kind. Yes you are:
When you help your Mom without asking
When you share your cookies with your brother
When you respond with your smile
When you let your friends play first
When you buy candy for your brother
When you help your sister cross from one side to another playing lava
When you don’t ask for soda in a restaurant to help me save money.

God gave you an incredible body, strength, muscles and flexibility. Soccer teams have enjoyed having you, basketball teams have enjoyed having you. I have seeing you doing front flips, not one, not two, but eight times in a row. I have seen you jumping in your bike, climbing a wall like nobody else, and beating me and all the other kids your age in a 5K race.

I see how kids your age want to be with you. I see how they call you. I see how they come to my door asking for you. I see how nice you are with them inviting them to your house, inviting them for dinner, to sleep overs.

I remember when you took one of your friends for a bike ride, even though you know we was not very good. You had patience and you were there to support him. His dad told me once: Your son is a gentleman, he is welcome every time.

Continue being so awesome with your friends, You just need to be you, showing respect and kindness.  You will have as much friends as the starts in the universe.

Every morning and every night before going to sleep, I put my hands in my heart and think about you. I pour you with blue green magic light that goes form my heart to you. I’m sending you my love. I see you shine, in your room, above the house, above Gaithersburg. A bubble of your love, of your light goes around the US, fills the Earth, fills the universe. I get a sense, a tickling,  an incredible sense of Joy.

I love you,

Your Dad

And here is a written note from his sister, She wrote it when she was 6 year old.

This is just a note, a simple note written by a incredible little human being. Written when his brother was being mean to her. A note highlighting and act of kindness of his brother waiting in the hot sun for her.

I think our kids need more hugs instead of punishments. They need more inspiring words, kind words to raise their spirit instead of more rules and behavioral contracts.

When we are anger about a difficult situation we can’t hear or see. We are in this emotional state where we disconnect from our being.  So, let’s try to reconnect raising our spirits. Raising our kids spirits.  Let’s  practice more a  language that can penetrate that barrier and get deeply into our hearts.  As Mark Twain said:

Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.

 

 

 

 

The BELLS strategy to become great

Yesterday I attended church at the Seneca Creek Community Church. The message was very practical and resonated with lots of habits some great people I think already have in place. Mark, the pastor based his talk on Michael Frost’s book called the Five Habits of Highly Mission People. The whole point of the book was to provide strategies for living “questionable” lives to inspire others to find God. Here is my practical take on it, which is independent and doesn’t assume that you believe in God or not. For sure these habits will make us become better every day.

  1. Bless: confer prosperity or happiness by any of these:
    1. Complement others and encourage.
    2. Do acts of kindness helping others without expecting anything in return.
    3. Give. A gift is an act of thoughtfulness and love.
  2. Eat: Eat with others. It reminded me of the book by Keith Ferrari “Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time“. Plan in advanced breakfast, lunches and dinners when traveling to meetings.  Go to places where you can meet with others. I have met people at a Whole Foods in San Francisco at lunch time when I go attend meetings at the Moscone Center. In busy meetings, this place is packed and you need to share a table. Is better to learn from others while you eat.
  3. Listen: Stop and Listen. The need for listening  is why mediation is so important. Ideas don’t come when we are busy thinking. Pray, think about a problem and sit in silence.
    1. Schedule it: The trick is to put in the calendar. I do it as soon as a wake up, maybe for 20-30 minutes. I need to go sleep around 10 the day before, so I can wake up between 5 or 6. This means cut TV or others distraction before going to bed.
    2. Channel it: I like the affirmations strategy by Jack Canfield. He tells that an  affirmation needs to be concrete.  For example: “God is my unlimited supply.  May large sums of money come to me quickly and easily under the grace of God, for the highest good of all concerned, I’m easily earning Y doing Job Z“. He also suggests adding “this or something better” at the end. Why? Jack says: because Our rational mind is useful for strategic planning, but quite often God’s plans are a lot better than our plans ever could be. We need to listen to align with the plan God has for us.
  4. Learn: The book talks about learning about Jesus, which will help us act better think better, forgive others faster, etc. We need to grow or perish in our different dimensions. A way to grow spiritually is learn about Jesus and other great people.
  5. Sent: I was not sure why this habit was called this way. Here are the two ideas form this section:
    1. Reconcile with others. Make peace with others.
    2. Invite people to enjoy the beauty of the world. A great podcast that resonated with this idea, was the interview with Tim Ferris and BJ Miller. BJ Miller, who woks at the Zen Hospice Project  shared his insights about the approach to mindfulness and how to look at art.

I hope this blog is useful and inspires you to become great! God Bless you!

 

Creating Happy Moments for Others

I was sitting at the bar at my favorite restaurant having chili and wine on Friday night. I started talking to Mila and her Husband Robert. Mila is a very sensible woman. She is half Bolivian and half Spanish. After some minutes our conversation got very deep. I asked her what motivates her. She said, “Making people happy”. She knew a lot of people in the bar. She hugged them like if they were best friends. She gave her smile away without hesitating. She made people feel important and loved, even for few seconds. She inspired this post.

Last week, I also listened to the Tim Ferris podcast with Adam Robinson. Adam. talked about creating magic for others. He said that in interactions with someone else “the purpose is to delight another person”. Adam told a story about him getting a special gift  to his friend Warren Buffet. Warren earned his first cents  when he was 6 years old by selling Bemoans gum. Adam planned to find a Bemoans gum pack, frame it, and send it to Warren. The interesting part is the way the story unfolds . He finds along the way people that help him to pursue his plan.

This reminded me of a book I read recently Love Does by Bob Goff. Bob helps others achieve their dream by creating fun and magic. It is a very inspirational and almost unbelievable book. One of the first stories is about a guy planning  to propose to his girlfriend using Bob’s Backyard near the coast. Bob have never met this guy. He found the guy to be very passionate about it. Bob decided to help him. As the date gets closer,  the plan gets more sophisticated. Bob, to delight the young man plans a big surprise by getting the coast guard to shoot of canons  from a firefighting boat when the new fiancée said yes.

Lewis Howes at the School of Greatness has a great short podcast about focusing on giving. He provides a great example about how small actions can impact people  lives, like a man taking his shirt  putting it on  a shivering man on a street  He recalls that one of the happiest moments was going to a third world country helping build schools with the Pencils of Promise foundation. Making people happy makes you happy!

So, my take away:

For my future interactions, business or social, I will try my best to:

  • delight the other person
  • make him or her feel good
  • be a great listener and ask details about what the other person is expressing
  • understand better his or her needs
  • sincerely complement
  • create acts of kindness (KindSpring provides great ideas)

I will also try to give 10% or more of my income to my church or a good cause.

“You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.” ― Zig Ziglar

“To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson