I sent this short essay out to my mailing list back in May. I like it, so I'm sharing it with you....
Today one of the second graders in my class made a mistake. The answers to the math problems are at the beginning of each chapter of the math notebook. For whatever reason, he looked at the answers and one of his classmates saw him. Now, this is one of the smartest kids in the class and he always works hard to find the answers but today for some reason he took the easy way out. The kid has charisma and charm and has never cheated before. When I came over to check the homework, one of the other kids totally busted him, saw him looking at the answers and told me about it. I asked the accused cheater if he did look at the answers. He did not say a word.
I told him he wasn't in trouble, that we all make mistakes but the most important part of making a mistake is how we recover. How we tell the truth. After a few minutes of deep thought and concentration, he told the truth. "Yes, Miss Jeanine, I looked at the answers". I sat down with him and taught him how to do the math. When we finished the homework, I told him we all make mistakes, we all want to take the easy way out sometimes. But it's important to fight the impulses to take the easy way out and do the work. And if and when we do slip up and make mistakes we must tell the truth, no matter how embarrassed we are or afraid.
Now in the grown up world we sometimes forget to be honest with ourselves. We cheat ourselves by trying to take shortcuts. But as grown ups... there is no "adult" to keep us honest. We cheat on our "diets", we lie to ourselves about the state of our relationships, the state of our self care, or we tell lies to try to make other people feel better. We play small and make sacrifices to make life easier for others. And we beat ourselves up relentlessly for all of these "negative" actions and mistakes.
What if we were able to stand in our own personal truth with integrity no matter how difficult it feels? What if we were able to accept our mistakes and find the wisdom within them. When life challenges happen do we hide or try to medicate ourselves with parties, bad relationships, other people's problems, alcohol, medication, TV, shopping or myriads of other "things" to detach from reality? Do we make time to eat real food, move our bodies, and develop meaningful relationships that truly enrich our lives?
Taking an honest look at how we take care of ourselves, dealing with our mistakes and facing reality in truth are the first steps to peace of mind and well being. This sounds really easy but in reality, it takes time and ability. I'm here to tell you that you can do it. Let's re-discover the god given tools we all have to live our lives in truth and happiness.