Top 10 Life Lessons I’ve Learned From My Daughter (So Far)

Children bring a great amount of wisdom with them when they join us here in this world. I have known this for many years and have always loved being around children. But it was not until I became a father, a bit more than four years ago, that I discovered just how wise these little beings really are.

From the moment of my daughter’s birth (and even before that) fatherhood has been a truly transformative experience. It’s rare that a day goes by without learning something about life from my Ella. And in many ways I really do see her as one of my most effective teachers.

So I thought it would be fun to share some of the personal growth lessons I have learned from Ella over the past four years. If you have children you will most likely recognize many of these. If you do not have children, you may find some of these corny or silly. Trust me, they are not. Every one of these lessons has had a significant impact on my life.

So here, then, are the top 10 Life Lessons I’ve Learned From My Daughter so far!

1. Tomorrow’s Gonna Be a New Day.
When Ella was younger she would ask me, “Is tomorrow gonna be a new day?” I assured her that, yes, indeed, tomorrow would be a new day. Now that she’s reached the ripe old age of four, she gets it. And now she reminds me: “Don’t worry Dadda. Tomorrow’s gonna be a new day!” It’s good to remember that!

I the only one hearing a refrain from Little Orphan Annie in the background? “The sun’ll come out tomorrow” Sure it’s cheesy, but there is a lot of power in recognizing that, no matter how difficult today is, tomorrow’s gonna be a new day.

2. Sometimes it’s Better to Make Up Your Own Rules
I already wrote about this one in the post Life Lessons from Candyland. But it’s an important one so I included it in this list.

Bottom line: Sometimes it’s best to throw away the rule book and make up your own!

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Show Your Enthusiasm.
Ella is not shy when it comes to showing her enthusiasm. If someone makes a suggestion that she likes she responds in a number of different ways depending upon her level of excitement. If she likes the idea, she’ll say something like, “That’s gonna be a great idea, Dada!” If she really likes the idea, she’ll nod her head vigorously and let out a loud, “Uh huh!” And if she really, really likes an idea, she starts jumping and galloping around, shouting, “Uh huh, uh huh, uh huh.” over and over and over and over…

My favorite part is when we’re at the dinner table and we make a suggestion (like for instance on a hot summer night when we, very rarely, suggest walking down to the ice cream shop in town) Ella will get so excited that she actually has to climb down off her chair so that she can run back and forth yelling “uh huh, uh huh, uh huh!” Sometimes her excitement is so powerful I’m afraid she’s going to fall off the chair!

Do you ever curb your enthusiasm? I know I do. Somewhere along the line most of us learned that stuff we really wanted or were really excited about could be taken away in an instant. Often the very things that were most exciting to us were used to get us to do or not do certain things: “Get dressed now or you can’t ride your bike today!” Or, “Stop saying that word or you’ll be grounded for a week.”

No wonder we’ve learned to hide our enthusiasm! We don’t want the good stuff taken away from us so we don’t let anyone know what we think is good! How messed up is that.

Well it sure is refreshing to watch Ella express her enthusiasm with no hesitation. Enthusiasm is contagious. People want a taste of enthusiasm. They want to know that it is safe to be happy about something.

So give it a try. The next time you discover something you really like, do a little happy dance and see what happens.

4. Feel your emotions fully.
Ella isn’t always happy. Like all kids she has moments of frustration and sadness. We’ve done our best to encourage her to fully feel those emotions and express them when they’re happening. It’s amazing to watch how Ella has learned to deal with these moments.

If something happens that causes Ella to feel frustrated or angry she’ll go into her room, close the door, lie down on the floor or on her bed and scream or cry for a minute or two. Then she opens the door, comes back out and says, “All better.” And usually she is. The frustration that was moving through her just needed to be let out.

How often have you held onto sadness, frustration, anger or grief? I know I’ve held onto stuff for a long time! And the longer I hold onto those emotions, the more powerful they become.

Much better to just let them out in the moment and let yourself be “all better!”

5. Walk On Walls Whenever Your Have The Chance
When was the last time you walked on a wall? Whenever I’m out walking with Ella and we pass a wall, whether it’s a curb or a retaining wall, Ella wants to walk on it. And now she gets me to walk on them with her: “Come on, Dada!” And I must say, if you haven’t walked on a wall in a while, give it a try. It’s a lot of fun!

The life lesson here is that we adult types tend to pass by opportunities for joy and exploration without even noticing them. These opportunities are all around us all the time. We just have to open our eyes and expand our perception. Hanging around kids (even if you don’t have your own) is a great way to do that.

6. Sometimes you have to do it alone (even if there’s someone right there who could help you).
I often feel a strong temptation to reach out to help Ella put her shoes on or put a puzzle piece in the right place. Simple tasks that I take for granted are a challenge for Ella, as they are for any child. If I were to constantly jump in and say, “Let me do that for you,” it would take her a lot longer to figure out how to do it.

It’s especially tempting to help her when she reaches that frustration point. But I’ve learned that if I let her go a little bit longer, just past that moment of frustration is when she succeeds.

In those moments I sometimes think of the scene in the movie, Ray, after Ray Charles has gone blind and his mother pretends she’s not in the room as he’s calling out for her help. In that moment, he discovers that he’s not as helpless as he thought.

It’s been a powerful lesson for me as a father and in my own life.

7. Know When to Ask For Help.
Now, while this one seems to contradict the previous lesson, they really work hand in hand. Let’s face it; there are some things that a four year old just can’t do yet. Ella is pretty good about trying to do things. And she is also pretty good about asking for help when she has reached the end of her patience: “Please help me, Dada.” Or if she’s tired or frustrated she might say, “I can’t do it, Dada.”

Her willingness to ask for help is a powerful lesson for someone like me: a die-hard do it yourself-er. Countless hours have been spent figuring out something that I could have easily asked or paid someone else to do.

Knowing when, and how, to ask for help is an important life skill to master. And I am learning from a master.

8. Don’t be attached to what you painted yesterday (or 2-seconds ago).
Ella is a prolific artist. She cranks out paintings and drawings faster than the fastest graffiti artist. And the beautiful thing about her creativity is that once she’s done, she’s done. There is no attachment to the painting she just created. She puts her piles of artwork into the recycling bin as easily as the Tibetan monks sweep their intricate sand mandalas back into dust. http://www.artnetwork.com/Mandala/gallery.html

I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time letting go of stuff I created 10-years ago! Ella’s willingness to let go of her creations leaves her open to the flow of creativity. She is not attached to what she painted yesterday. She does not compare what she is doing today with what came before. She is free to be open and just let it flow.

9. Singing Makes Everything Better.
No matter how traumatic a situation might be, whether it’s an overtired and cranky before bed tooth brushing meltdown or a big boo-boo, singing makes it better. Ella and I sing together on our way to preschool. We sing the silly tooth-brushing song we made up together. We sing the pee-pee song. We sing our favorite bedtime songs. Just about anything that you can say can be sung (hey, didn’t the Beatles write something about that?).

Singing is fun. Singing makes you smile. I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s research showing that singing releases endorphins. And most of us adult types tend to sing far too little. The 7-Dwarfs knew what they were talking about when they whistled while they worked! So try adding a bit more singing into your daily diet.

10. Dance like no one’s watching (even when you’ve made sure that everyone is!)
Like most houses with young ones, the phrases, “Watch Dada. Watch Mama. Watch everybody!” are heard on a regular basis. Ella loves to dance. And when she does, she lets it all hang out. She makes up new dance moves on a regular basis: There’s the running back and forth dance, the sneaky dance, the jumping up and down dance, the spin around until you fall down dance, and of course Ella’s famous Jiggy-Jiggy dance!

Somewhere along the way, most of us lose that uninhibited ability to express ourselves. The voices of self-doubt come in and we become self-conscious of our performance. Watching Ella dance with all her heart, whether she’s alone or in front of a crowd, is a great reminder of the innocence and joy that we all have inside of us. Isn’t it time we start letting a little more of it out?

So there are the top 10 life lessons that Ella has helped me learn so far. What lessons have your children taught you? I’d love to hear. Leave a comment below and share your lessons and stories.

10 Tips For Staying Positive Around Negative People

Let’s face it. No matter how positive we intend to be and how focused we are on attracting positive people into our lives, there are times when we will come into contact with negative people. You know the type: They love to talk about all the things that are going wrong in their life. They live for the gossip about the latest tragedy in Paris Hilton’s life or their neighbor’s. They bask in being the first to point out why a project won’t work.

These people may be tangential to your life or they may be firmly embedded in the fabric of your life (can you say “family members?”). But either way, when they come into your presence, they provide a true “test” of your ability to maintain a high, positive vibration.

So how do you deal with these people? How do you maintain a positive vibration when you find yourself surrounded by people with less positive vibrations?

Here are ten tools, techniques and insights to help you maintain a positive vibration. Try them out. Discover what works for you. Improvise, combine them, add your own. As you work within the Law of Attraction you will begin to discover your own tools and techniques for maintaining your highest most positively attractive resonance in every situation.

So here they are.

10 Tips For Staying Positive Around Negative People:

1. Leave.

If possible, remove yourself from the presence of the low/slow vibrations as quickly as you can. This is the easiest and often the best way to deal with the situation. If you find yourself immersed in a water-cooler conversation that takes a negative turn, excuse yourself as soon as you realize what’s happening. Admittedly, this is not always possible (think family gatherings!) so we’ve got 9 more.

2. Try to keep the conversation positive.
If you recognize that the conversation is taking a turn for the worse, see if you can turn it back around. Politicians and marketers call this staying on message. Your “message” is positive. The topic doesn’t matter so much as the tone. So anything you can do to keep the conversation positive is staying on message.

3. Think of something positive in your life.
If, in spite of your efforts to stay on message, the conversation becomes negative, see if you can split your attention and allow a part of your mind to focus on something positive. Think of it like the “picture in a picture” feature on your TV. Insert a little positive thought or memory into the big picture.

4. Find something positive about the person to focus on.
Everyone has redeeming qualities. They may be difficult to notice in the heat of the negative moment. But they are there. See if you can find one. Maybe you like her scarf. Maybe he just got a new hair cut that looks good. Maybe she smells good. Maybe he helped you move last weekend. When you notice and focus on something positive it neutralizes the power of the negative energy.

5. Close your eyes.
This obviously may not be possible when you are engaged in a one-on-one conversation. In this case, deliberately slow down the blinking of your eyes. Closed eyes, even if closed for just a second, immediately begin to bring your brainwaves down towards the alpha state. Try it right now. Take a few slow eye-blinks and watch what happens to you physical and mental state. You are much less susceptible to negative energy when you are in that relaxing, contemplative alpha space.

6. Focus on your breath.
Again, see if you can split your attention and focus part of your awareness on your breath. Become aware of the air moving in and out of your body. Feel your chest and belly expanding against your shirt. Notice the rhythm of your breath and see if you can consciously slow your breath down.

7. Unplug your energy from the other person.
Imagine that you are literally pulling your plug out of the other person. These negative people thrive on their ability to bring others down to their vibrational level. Use visualization, feeling, or intention to pull your plug and maintain your own vibrational level.

8. Remember the prayer of St. Francis.
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy. Recognize that the person’s negativity is an expression of their inner doubt, despair and sadness. The way that you “sow” love and hope and peace and joy is by remaining positive and allowing yourself to become an instrument of peace in that moment.

9. Stop judging.
If you find yourself being judgmental, stop. We all have moments of negativity. And, in fact, this person’s presence in your life could be a signal that there is some negativity in your space that you are not acknowledging. So stop judging the person and, instead, offer your gratitude for the opportunity to explore your own tendency to drift into low/slow vibrations.

10. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you get pulled down into the low vibrations!
Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, no matter how strong your intention is to stay positive, you will find yourself pulled down into that negative vibration. Be kind on yourself. As with number 9 above, judging yourself will only add to the downward spiral. If you fall off the horse, the best response is to get right back on and try it again!