Finding Power

20Dec12

“Make the most of yourself, because that’s all there is of you.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

I love transcendental writing . . .

I think Emerson is saying that the only thing we truly and actually own is our body/mind/soul/spirit, and that’s all. And since we  have only that one thing (however you want define ‘it’), our work should be directed towards improving that only thing we have.

On the surface, I fully agree with this quote. It reminds me to focus on the things I have control over, and so it causes me to find the solutions I can create, instead of crying in dismay at all the horrible things (imagined or otherwise) around me. For people with mood disorders, this sort of reminder is absolutely necessary (see my post ‘Forgive This One Thing‘) and needs to come often. As an individual, this quote is a powerful reminder to seek success by being the best person you can be, and to stop worrying about the fact that you can’t change things like, how much people like you, or the war in the Middle East, or even solve the addictions of a loved one (tough battle that last one is). You can be an agent of change (a topic for the future), but the only thing that you can literally change, is you. So you might as well make it worth it. Make it good.

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So, on the surface, I love Emerson’s quote of focusing on yourself as your great work of change. But if I let the statement sit for even a little while, I see that it doesn’t quite fit for a parent. By definition (my definition anyway), a parent’s job is to create a good environment for a child to grow up healthy, and by creating this healthy environment, a child is made to be the most important thing a person/parent can make, father or mother.

Good environment quite often leads to a healthy, well adjusted, well prepared human being that is ready and equipped to carry on and bring about even greater change. Positive change can sometimes snowball and grow exponentially – just think of many of the flash charities that have happens on the net recently: The Chive.com raised over $250,000 for a wounded soldier in just over 24 hours, and in 9 days, TheOatmeal.com raised over 1 Million dollars to create a museum!)

It is this positive change snowball that gives me power and inspiration to keep going and find ways to make the world a better place. I teach my children that one person can bring about positive change in the world. Yes, yes, Emerson was simplifying when he said that we need to make the most of ourselves, but I truly believe that we cannot make a good person (yourself or a child) without being part of a positive change in the world.

The bottom line is that YOU need to make the world a better place in order to be successful as a human being!

I’ll write more on success in the future, but for now I’ll just let Emerson clear things up on what it means to have been successful:

“To laugh often and much; To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson 

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SO! We can define success in many ways, and I think that RWE does a fantastic job at summing it all up. So, as we storm headfirst into a new year, I am reminded of a speech from JFK that was made almost 50(!) years ago:
“Children are the world’s most valuable resource and its best hope for the future. It is a real tragedy that in an era of vast technological progress and scientific achievement millions of children should still suffer from lack of medical care, proper nutrition, adequate education, and be subjected to the handicaps and uncertainties of a low-income, substandard environment.” – John F. Kennedy 1963 

How much has changed?

Check out http://www.unicef.org

Be successful. Make yourself a better person, be a better agent for positive change in the world. This makes better children, a better world, and a better future for all.

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3 Responses to “Finding Power”


  1. 1 A New Hope « Bipolar 2 Dad
  2. 2 Do you have a Second? « Bipolar 2 Dad
  3. 3 Martin Luther King Day « Bipolar 2 Dad

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