I posed this question to my Facebook friends recently and the flood of replies seemed to signal how much we all relish the chance to be kids again.
More than the titles of books, I saw in the responses a sincere joy in remembering the sensory feel of the pages, the vivid illustrations, and where they were or who they were with when they first discovered reading. There also were the lingering lessons:
- You can be anything you chose to be
- Make yourself happy
- It’s possible to give yourself completely to another person
- Unabashedly be yourself
- Even in the toughest of situations, you can be brave (and thrive)
- Be kind to others, including animals
- War is useless
- Your challenge can also be your greatest gift
- It’s fun to be silly
- You’re not alone
These lessons have shaped us, and shaped the decisions we’ve made throughout our lives in a way that only our core values can do.
I’ve blogged before about values. They can come from any number of places – your experiences, what was instilled in you by others, or what you were born believing. Once a belief is introduced, we often use what happens around us — more specifically, our viewpoint of what is happening — as a proof point that it must be true.
Take for example, The Wizard of Oz. Reading it one could believe, or find proof, that a magical world is waiting to be discovered out the front door. Or, that there’s no place like home, so stay close to it. Same book, completely different lesson and resulting perspective on opportunities that arise in our lives.
Values, no matter how unquestionable they seem or how long you have held them to be true, are not hard-and-fast rules. You always have a choice about what you believe.
I love talking about choice. As a life coach, I host guided conversations on this topic. It’s amazing what can happen when we step outside ourselves and see how much change we can affect just through our perspective.
Look at any situation in your life right now, from the relationship with your mother to a disagreement in the checkout line. What would it be like if this wasn’t happening to you, if you were watching it unfold in a book instead? Suddenly each person involved (including you) are “characters” with their own needs, motivations, fears and desires. As an objective reader, you can see what led to this point and what might happen to change the outcome.
From this perspective, how might all of the characters get what they really need?
Not only is stepping outside of a situation useful for working with values and perspective in your own life, it brings new meaning to role of parents and teachers. Children’s minds are being shaped, and lasting values are being forged at every moment. Though we can’t control what they take with them or how it’s used later, your contribution is immensely powerful. More, in fact, than you can realize.
Makes me think that my next Facebook question should be – who was your favorite teacher and why? Stay tuned!