Children live in the moment and as their parents, we sometimes need to teach them a lesson in perspective, because perspective comes from our long experience of realizing how different things turn out.
Recently, my daughter and son performed on a big festival and while they prepared for the event, our house was full of music. Our son Tsoof is a seasoned performer, but our youngest daughter Noff was struggling to manage her anxiety and enthusiasm at the same time.
The event was beautiful. She was excited and nervous and when it was all done, a good thing happened: many of her friends, and other people who watched her perform, sent her messages of encouragement and support.
So, she needed a lesson in perspective. To manage the excitement before the event, she needed optimism that everything would be fine, and to manage the overflow of support messages, she needed humbleness.
Why? Because before she sang, she was nervous, and after she sang, she was over the moon and she didn’t know how to react to this overflow of compliments and needed to land.
In both cases, she needed to understand that her experience in the moment would not last forever.
We can learn a lesson in optimism from babies and from King Solomon. Why? Because babies are the most optimistic creatures on earth, living in the moment with no future concept at all, and King Solomon was very wise and there are many stories about him that we can learn from. We can learn from him about being optimistic during hard times.
I always say that when things are hard, I feel like an octopus is strangling me, and no, I don’t usually imagine a cute, cartoon-like octopus, but a giant, scary one that does not allow me to breath.
I think I took this image from watching the movie Alien, which I watched at a very inappropriate age (let this be my lesson in perspective). I am sure you have those moments in your life when you feel that things are very hard and all you want is to close your eyes and wake up in a different story.
This is when optimism helps. Even while we are struggling, we remember that the world has other things in it, not just monsters, that we can get help from others, that things can change and that we can find peace and happiness again.
This is an important message to give to our kids. It is the positive side of their lesson in perspective.
While we need to be optimistic in hard times, we have to learn humility in good time, so that we remember the important things in life and prepare ourselves for the future.
Like my octopus image for hard times, I have a vision of glory, happiness and fame for good times, in which I’m standing on stage being cheered and applauded by millions of people. This feeling can be very addictive and very limiting.
When Noff got so many messages, we told her that she needs to get used to being famous and it is very important to be humble and remember to be kind.
In my student leadership program, we go over this concept of learning to receive compliments, being humble and using kindness to respond. My son, Tsoof, is a performer and composer. He has played music since the age of 4. We’ve always thought that he understood humility to the max, because he was 4 years old when he started to reply in a kind way with “Thank you!” to everyone who complemented him on his performance.
There is a beautiful story about King Solomon that is a fantastic way to teach kids about being optimistic and humble at the same time. I hope you will find it useful as a way to give your kids a lesson in perspective.
King Solomon’s Lesson in Perspective
Many years ago, King Solomon wanted to test his trusted minister Benaiah and teach him a bit of humility. He gave him an assignment the king Knew he could not fulfill. King Solomon told his minister, “Within six months, bring me a ring that if a happy man looks at it, he becomes sad, and if a sad man looks at it, he becomes happy”.
Benaiah went to all the jewelry makers and asked them about this magical ring with no success. After six months, he was very sad and depressed. He felt like a failure and as the time came closer to the due date, he was afraid of disappointing his king.
One day, he went to the poorest areas of Jerusalem and asked a very poor jeweler, “Have you by any chance heard of a magic ring that makes the happy wearer forget his joy and the broken-hearted wearer forget his sorrows?”
The old man took out a golden ring and carved something on it. When Benaiah read the words on the ring, a big smile spread over his face. He paid the poor man and went very happy back to King Solomon.
In front of all the ministers, King Solomon smiled to himself, because he wanted to make this a lesson in humility, but when he looked at the ring, the smile vanished from his face. On the Ring was carved
This too shall pass
At that moment, King Solomon received his own lesson in humility. He realized that only focusing on the Now can be a double-edged sword. It can take the smile away from a happy person and make a sad person happy.
The ring taught everyone in the room that everything is temporary, the good and the bad. When you are sad, all you need is a bit of optimism to realize that this feeling will not last forever. When you are happy and over the moon, you need the humility to remember that this feeling will not last forever either.
We sure need optimism to manage the hard things in life and remember that this too shall pass – the pain, the nervousness, the anxiety, the fear and the conflict. When things are great, when we are successful and everything is going well for us, we need to remember that they are temporary and we need to be grateful and humble.