Be the Best YOU Can Be

Post date: Mar 12, 2013 4:44:58 PM

Our family has one main rule: Be the best YOU can be.

It's so simple, but it says so much. My wife and I don't care if our kids are the best or worst at anything they try when compared to other children, because that isn't how we should measure ourselves. There will always be someone better or worse than all of us in any given competition. What my wife and I are concerned with is if our children are putting forth their best, most heartfelt efforts Being the best you can be ties into almost every aspect of our lives, from being kind to other people to doing all we can at work or school to even giving ourselves a break for making mistakes. Nobody is perfect, but we can still try out best.

This has been a particularly difficult thing for my son to keep in mind, as he is very competitive and hard on himself. Sometimes if he can't be the best at something, he won't want to even bother trying. I've told him he doesn't need to worry about how others are doing, he only needs to focus on how he is doing. If he puts his heart into something and doesn't succeed, that's okay. He still gave it his all and should never feel bad about the results.

It's very disappointing to try hard and not succeed, but that's the way life is sometimes. It's not fair, and we have to accept that. We can't always do and get what we want in life, no matter the effort we put in. But I believe that as long as we keep trying, we will eventually reach our goals in one way or another.

It's challenging to practice what we preach sometimes, and I'm guilty of being like my son at times. That is, if I don't think I can succeed, I won't want to even try. But I know that's not being the best I can be. As a parent, I need to make sure I am a model for the type of behavior I want my children to follow.

Last night I read an essay by Marvin Harada in his book, Discovering Buddhism in Everyday Life. He retells a story of a great forest fire, causing all of the animals who lived there to flee to safety. The fire is overwhelmingly massive, and it appears nothing can be done to put it out. However, one small bird continues to keep trying to douse the flames with the few drops of water it is capable of carrying. The other animals ask why should anyone try so hard in a seemingly hopeless situation, and the response is that doing so is all the bird is capable of doing.

Life can sometimes feel like a huge wall of fire, impossible to douse no matter how hard we try. However, standing by idly is not going to help. Maybe if we were all like that tiny bird, everyone doing our best regardless of the odds against us, the flames can be extinguished. But in the end, we can only do what we are capable of, and as long as we remember to put forth our sincerest efforts, there is nothing else that we should worry about.