I did not grow up in a wealthy family. I didn’t have a lot of the finer things other kids had, but I had enough. I didn’t grow up in a perfect family either. We had our share of personal problems, but we persevered. I strongly feel these “difficulties” shaped me into the person that I have become. I think that given the circumstances, my parents did the best they could at the time. I don’t fault them for anything. After all, the jury is still out on my own childrearing abilities. One day, my kids might turn around and tell me how I screwed up their lives ,or they might say I did well by them. Only time will tell. The most important things my parents gave to me are not things that one instantly sees. They are things that one sees when they get to know me. They gave me morals, ethics, and character through life lessons and examples. These are the ten most important things my folks passed on to me.
1. Have a sense of humor. Life is much easier and more fun if you learn to laugh at yourself and with others. My parents are funny, and my father quite sarcastic (yeah, I know the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree!) Our family times always have been and still are filled with laughter. Most times, when you get both my parents and all six of their kids with their families together, it’s like one big circus. I must say my sense of humor has gotten me out of more than one jam and has certainly eased tension at times. Unfortunately, there are times that I am slow on the uptake and will get a joke much after the fact. It could be because I am also a bit naïve at times.
“A keen sense of humor helps us to overlook the unbecoming, understand the unconventional, tolerate the unpleasant, overcome the unexpected, and outlast the unbearable.” ~Billy Graham
2. Stand up for what you believe in. Even if you’re the only one. And even others think you’re wrong. That is a hard place to be, but when it feels right in your soul, it is the only place to be. I’ve often stood alone on principle, and I am a better person because of it.
“Stubbornly persist, and you will find that the limits of your stubbornness go well beyond the stubbornness of your limits.” ~Robert Brault
3. Honesty. Don’t be a liar, a cheat, or a thief. Success is not worth achieving if you have to lie, cheat, or steal to achieve it. I don’t know about you, but I refuse to be friends with or conduct business with someone I can’t trust. Trust is the foundation of all relationships. And my mother always told us that she would rather resort to begging if in need that to steal something that was not rightfully hers.
“Try not to become a man of success but rather try to become a man of value.” ~Albert Einstein
4. Integrity. This also goes along with saying what you mean and meaning what you say. Be who you are. But above all be someone that you can look at in the mirror and still sleep well at night. Be someone you’d want to be friends with. My parents are well liked in their community, and I think it all comes down to character.
“One of the truest tests of integrity is its blunt refusal to be compromised“. ~Chinua Achebe
5. Love above all, even if it hurts. Because if you don’t love, you will never fully live life to it’s richest. Even from the most painful experiences of love, we learn something. Those love lessons shape who we become in life. Just think of the tapestry that love alone has woven in your life. I’ll bet it’s rich and colorful, and if there’s a tear here and there, I’ll bet it’s reinforced with a pretty patch that adds a unique sparkle.
“I have found the paradox that if I love until it hurts, then there is no hurt, but only more love.” ~ Mother Teresa
6. Hard work. Work for the things you want in life and don’t expect for them to be handed to you. Many things in life are privileges not rights. I was taught to not just work but to work to the best of my abilities. I remember getting so upset with my father for asking why I had a B instead of an A in a subject. I don’t think he ever got that I was just dumb in algebra. Basically, he wanted me to go out there and make things happen, not to wait for them to show up at my door.
“Do not wait; the time will never be ‘just right’. Start where you stand, and work with whatever tools you may have at your command, and better tools will be found as you go along.” ~ Napoleon Hill
7. Responsibility. Do what is expected of you at the time it is expected. Be where you are supposed to be when you are supposed to be there. Have good work ethics. Responsibility is twofold. I was taught to be a person who can be depended upon, as well as being accountable for my actions. If you make the wrong decision, be ready to face the consequences.
”Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.” ~Johann van Goethe
8. Respect. Don’t look down on anyone else. Don’t ever think you are better than others. Never belittle anyone. Don’t try to make yourself look better at the expense of others. Treat others how you’d like them to treat you. Always be open to learning from those around you. Be courteous and show compassion to others.
“Respect for ourselves guides our morals; respect for others guides our manners.” ~ Laurence Sterne
9. Be grateful and gracious. Be grateful for what you have; there are others who have less. Give thanks to those who give not only things but themselves to you. When you think you have nothing to give, there is always something even if nothing more than your time and talents, and there is always someone who can use your help.
“Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so, let us all be thankful.” ~Buddha
10. Be a class act. It’s simple, like love, respect, and honesty. Class can’t be bought. Real class is not determined by the clothes you wear or the car you drive. Real class is what you do with what’s in your heart, how you relate to your world and your people in it. It’s when you take your abilities and use them for the good of others, not expecting anything in return.
” Class is an aura of confidence that is being sure without being cocky. Class has nothing to do with money, Class never runs scared. It is self-discipline and self-knowledge. It‘s the sure footedness that comes with having proved you can meet life.” ~Ann Landers