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home : opinions : opinions May 22, 2015

8/24/2014 6:00:00 AM
Column: Play up strengths, forget fears
Ron Barnes
Courier columnist

Here is the 12th installment of the Granddaddyisms I shared with my grandson a few years ago when he was a teenager.

* Dylan, many adults have a need to ask young people what they want to be when they grow up. This well-meaning question really seeks to find out what occupation you plan to pursue. Please know that your granddaddy is more interested in the question, "Who do you want to become as a person?" The quality of your life and character takes a higher priority than the work-life you select. Your choice of an occupation is important, but it shouldn't be an end in itself. It is the road you travel that enables you to earn a living. But the quality of your life is also predicated on the contribution you make in serving others and making the world a better place. This can be accomplished, of course, through your occupation. But a good life is also the result of who you are and what you do with all your gifts, abilities and skills. Fortunate is the individual whose work enables him or her to contribute to the welfare of society and whose non-work life is also devoted to making a positive difference in the life of others.

* Be wary of cocksure people; they tend to possess petrified beliefs and opinions.

* The longer I live, the clearer it is to me that one of the most important roots of love is forgiveness. And perhaps the most important lesson about forgiveness is that the opportunity to forgive is always before you. Not a bad lesson for someone your age either, Dylan.

* As you age, you're going to remember these years when you were living at home as a teenager. What kind of memories will you have? Pleasant ones? Unpleasant ones? Will they be memories that provoke you to wish you had done things differently? For instance, Austin is going to be your younger brother for as long as you live. Are you now building the kind of caring relationship that will make him want to be close and supportive of you when you are both adults? What about your relationship with your mother? Are you the kind of loving, caring son that will make you proud of yourself when you remember these years when you are 30, 40, 50 and 60? You don't get a second chance to make up for what you do or don't do during these years, Dylan. So try to get it right. Now.

* Try to understand that a little lie or a little cheating is like a little bit of pregnancy; it's there and likely to get bigger.

* The road to mental health is paved, in part, with coping skills and resilience, not with senseless worries. I recall, Dylan, when I was you age I worried needlessly about my physical appearance. Little flaws were exaggerated and gained an inordinate amount of my attention. How utterly useless and unnecessary were my concerns. Everyone else my age paid little or no attention to my perceived flaws because they were so focused on their own. So, learn this significant lesson: You are not the focus of their lives. Center on your strengths, try to minimize your limitations, but don't permit yourself to get worked up about them. Who you are is far more important to your friends than how you look. Your demeanor - smiles, interest in their lives, sincerity in communications, and self-confidence - will make you an admired friend and companion. Caring about people, along with not taking yourself too seriously, is the real basis for friendship. Try to become less self-centered, a tough challenge for someone your age, but worth the effort.

* Perhaps the best measure of a life is not what you have done for others, but what others have done because of you. Infusing a spark or your spirit or an idea into another person insures your immortality. Something of you lives on in others.

Dr. Ron Barnes is a retired educator and businessman.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Monday, August 25, 2014
Article comment by: Mark Brown

Sound advice Gramps.. beautiful :)

Posted: Sunday, August 24, 2014
Article comment by: Tom Steele

Right on Mr. Barnes. I have been following the "Little League" World Series this year with an all black team from Chicago beating a team from Las Vegas yesterday. The coaches for the final teams were "miked up" and the broadcast could pick up their comments as the coaches spoke with the boys at the mound and at the end of each ending. As you say he would pump them up even when it was going badly, not chew them out. A great coach builds up character and promotes great values as displayed in these Little League contestants. We need more of this in every community.

Posted: Sunday, August 24, 2014
Article comment by: Gotteh Goah

Jabber is ok if you are trying to sell an elixir, but when it comes to teaching life lessons, too many words become are one in the same.

Posted: Sunday, August 24, 2014
Article comment by: Mr Preach

I am a great-granddad and I have some beautiful, smart, and mentally and morally well-balanced grand and great-grand children. This statement includes my children as well. Life is not without it's problems, everyone faces them, it is how we respond to them that's gets us through life. We have raised our children to live by the Holy Bible. They have learned to love others as they love themselves, to take anything that does not belong to them, to not revert to name calling when and hate when corrected or mistreated.

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