Being true ourselves is part of having integrity. When we think about integrity we also think about honesty. In fact if a person is honest they are spoken of as having integrity. We can count on them to be true to their word and we have a trust factor that is very high.
Just as important as honesty with others is, so is honesty with ourselves. Are we honest about who we are, what we like, how we act both with others and with ourselves? Are we honest to our values, morals and ethics? Especially in the tween and teen years we are very worried about fitting in and having friends. In times like that we may be afraid that others may not like us or laugh at us if we do not like, act, dress, talk the same way that they do. Yet being ourselves is part of feeling good about yourself. Lets look at an example.
Lets say you are in school and your group of ‘friends’ start talking about someone else not in the group. They may be a new person at the school. They decide that it would be ‘funny’ to play a prank on them or to say something mean to them, and you are chosen in some manner to be the one that plays the prank. Now you may not feel comfortable to do that, in fact it goes against everything you are as a person, but you are feeling the pressure of the group. What will you do?
Here is a what Professor Dumbledore told Harry Potter:
“It takes a great deal of courage to stand up to your enemies, but a great deal more to stand up to your friends.”
Being willing to stand up for what you believe in and who you are, takes courage and is what integrity to yourself is all about.
Clement Stone, one of the greatest business people in the world, once said, “Have the courage to say no. Have the courage to face the truth. Do the right thing because it is right. These are the magic keys to living your life with integrity.” I found this quote interesting because when you ask a child, would you take a cookie if you were told not too, they would say NO! When asked why not the answer is almost always, “Because you will get in trouble.”
One of our favorite sayings in our classes that all of our students know is, “Do the right thing, because it is the right thing to do! Not because you will get in trouble” In fact we tell the students – “Do not worry about getting in trouble or not. The most important thing is do the right thing.”
While some will say that children know in their gut what is right and wrong and what are good choices and bad choices, I would disagree. As parents we have the responsibility to teach our children morals, values and ethics. When they see us practice those same things they begin to understand the meaning and importance of integrity. Our display of truth and honesty in our lives as adults, is how our children “learn to feel in their gut”, what it means to do the right thing.
This month we will talk about honesty, promises, being authentic to ourselves, and how integrity influences leadership and stress in our lives. Keep checking back in with us here, or visit our school and let your child take classes with us as we practice the martial arts and build character, confidence and contribution to the community.
Using optimism when we have made a mistake can be a difficult step as we work at developing this attitude. When we make a mistake we have some choices to make. Are we going to be embarrassed and try to hide the fact that a mistake was made? Are we going to try to get out of it by blaming another person? Are we going to deny it, being afraid that we may lose the respect or the friendship of another person?
We know that when we blame someone else that they may get in trouble for something that they did not do, and it is likely that the truth will be found out anyway. When we make a mistake the right thing to do is to admit it and be optimistic. Optimistic that everything will be OK. We have told the truth, we are taking responsibility for our actions, we have apologized and now we are looking for ways to make things right. If we have taken those steps we have every reason to believe (to be optimistic) that we will find a resolution to the mistake.
Sometimes our mistakes are on a personal level where we have said or done something that hurt the feelings of another person. Whatever the reason is that this has occurred, taking responsibility and apologizing is the right thing to do. Staying calm acknowledging the pain of the other person and your own pain, apologize if you have done something wrong, and let them know that you are willing to do what it takes to make things right. Again, when we are optimistic, we believe that by being accountable, we can make things right again.
Learning how to think and talk to ourselves is a key factor in teaching our children optimism. If we can develop the habit of looking at the good things that have happened to us, or the new things that we have learned, we have knowledge that we can reflect on when the going gets tough. Recently I posted a TED talk on smiling. Learning to think about the good things that happen to us and taking a moment to be thankful and smile will help us and our family to be optimistic.
This is like a muscle though in that if we want that ability in the difficult times, we must practice it and work it in the good times. The practice and habit of being thankful for what we have, focusing on the good both in ourselves and others, will create a good mood for ourselves. When we smile at another person it has an affect on them and on us. Our mood will pick up and we can naturally be more optimistic.
If it seems that we are in a cycle of being in a bad mood, depressed, or negative about many things, how can we break that cycle? I would suggest that we think about things in our life where we succeeded in a situation that seemed impossible. Use that as a starting point where we can see we have had success and can be sure of our ability to duplicate that success. Look for the silver – lining. If we make a mistake, what can we learn from it and where can we apply our new knowledge? What are some other possible outcomes? What is the good that we can be focused on? My third suggestion is to adopt the attitude of gratitude. Pause and be mindful of the ‘little things’ that we may have taken for granted in the past. Being thankful and taking the moment to express that gratitude either to another or to ourselves, will build on itself into not just gratitude but also optimism.
Being optimistic is more than just a great way of thinking, if you can. Optimism is a part of being a leader of others and is a way of thinking that is good for our children to learn. When our children can be optimistic, looking at the bright side, they learn to look at their goals in a new way. We know as parents that if we go into a project or learning situation and do not believe that we are able to accomplish it,or believe that we are a failure – we are most likely to have that result.
The powers that we can teach our children they need to feel hopeful about reaching their goals is first willpower. Will Power is about continuing to work at their goal until they reach it. We can teach Will Power by encouragement of their efforts along with not just giving them everything that they want. Allow them to have goals that they have to work for over a period of time. The second power they will need is “WAY-Power”. This the power that even when things get in the way, you know you will find a way to reach your goal. As parents we know that life is tough and that not all things come easy. Allowing our children to have obstacles and to learn to overcome them will be a great help in developing WAY-Power.
If you have those two powers, Will-Power and Way-Power, you have optimism.
Some things are going to be equal and everyone should get the same amount, and other times things will be different and yet still fair. Sometimes though fairness is determined by factors that we have a certain amount of control over.
If we are attempting to be a part of a team and there are limited positions on the team there will be choices made. Who is chosen for the team may be based on factors like, talent, effort, desire, time commitment, or even attitude. These would all be fair comparisons. Those comparisons are one’s that we do have control over how much effort and time we put into an activity.
There will be times though that when all other factors are comparable it may come down to relationships. This can seem to be very unfair, if we are on the losing side. But even our children must learn that not everything is going to go there way and that even when things do not seem to be fair, we must maintain a good attitude and not demonstrate bad character if we do lose out on something that we really wanted.
Parents can help with this by demonstrating a caring and understanding attitude for their child and not react in a vindictive manner. Remember our child is watching us in everything we say and do and will imitate our actions later.