Family |Life Lessons |Parenting
25 Genius Quotes That Permanently Changed The Way I Look At Life
I badly want to share them with my teenage daughter and I wish I knew them earlier in my life.
I am venturing into new territory. My oldest daughter is in middle school. When I was her age, I didn’t enjoy being preached. That I remember.
I can’t recall what worried me the most then. So, I did the second best option — I researched what worries most teenagers:
- Anxiety about their social status as perceived by peers and by themselves.
- Struggle with body image insecurities.
- Concerns that “Nobody really understands me.”
- Fear of not pleasing their parents.
- Fear of not measuring up to their own bar.
All relatable to that age. Yet, I didn’t want to stand at a pulpit and preach. I wanted to do better.
I relate to things that I can visualize. Things that are concrete. Like most parents, I do want to share what I know in non-intrusive ways.
I have a yellow book full of notes that impact me profoundly. And most of my quotes in the notes have one thing in common — all of them are concrete. The mantra I believe in — If you see it in your eyes, you will remember.
My themes are animals, plants, objects and places. As simple as it gets. Surprisingly, they connect very well with worry themes of teenagers.
1. From the animal planet: vegetarian lion & more
Vegetarian Lion: “Expecting the world to treat you fairly because you’re a good person is like expecting a lion not to attack you because you’re a vegetarian.”
Tidbit: My favorite along with the preachy peaches in the plant section. Goes a long way in simplifying life mentally.
Mighty Mosquito: “If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.” — the Dalai Lama
Tidbit: In 2011, I was dispatched to a training in Europe. I came across this quote there on a slide. Always stuck with me — I can always imagine the Dalai Lama saying it with his characteristic smile.
Checkmate Pigeons: “Don’t play chess with a pigeon. It’ll just knock over the pieces, shit all over the board and then strut around like it won the game.”
Tidbit: my evolution story about dog tails dovetails into this perfectly.
When I was young I learned: You cannot straighten a dog’s tail.
Somewhere along the way, I believed I could win over people to my point of view with words and actions. The shape of the dog’s tail [people’s behavior in the normal course of the day] is not that important.
As I got older, my aha was: There is immense value in studying the dog’s tail. You may not be able to straighten it forever. However, the study of tails opens our eyes on what people are comfortable with — in their natural state. An observation I found worth the weight in gold in the world of influence without authority.
Singing Bird: “Use what talents you possess — the woods will be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best.”
Tidbit: Simpler version — “you do you.”
Flying Bird: “I always wonder why birds choose to stay in the same place when they can fly anywhere on earth. Then I ask myself the same question.”
Tidbit: My middle school English teacher’s favorite quote — “rolling stone gathers no moss.” Me thinking — who uses the word moss in the real world!
2. From the plant world: peachy peaches, apple exchanges and more.
Peachy Peaches: “You might be the sweetest peach on the tree, but some people just don’t like peaches.”
Tidbit: Possibly the most important quote that changed my life —the cost of pleasing everybody is not pleasing yourself! Comfortable mind is as important as comfortable clothes.
Apple Exchange: “If I have an apple and you have an apple and we exchange them, we both still have one apple. However, if I have an idea and you also have an idea and we exchange them, we both have two ideas.”
Tidbit: My mom likes this version better — “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people. So, switch off the pulsating TV/radio/online news, you will feel better.”
Trees 1: The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.
Trees 2: A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.
Tidbit: I grew up in South India. I am thankful to my grandparents for planting one of the sweetest banganapalli mango bearing tree. I literally grew up on their thoughtfulness. As an ad for TV echoed then — neighbors envy, owners pride.
3. From objects and places
Bus: After a bus, or a man, you should never run. The next one will be along in ten minutes.
Tidbit: I chuckle when I wait for a bus. Now, you know why.
Graveyards: “Graveyards are full of irreplaceable people.
Tidbit: Irreplaceable people who once said, “my job needs me.”
Ships: “A ship is safe in a harbor. But that’s not what ships are for.”
National Parks: “There is considerable overlap between the intelligence of the smartest bears and the dumbest tourists.”
Tidbit: I love intersections of ideas, but this is crème de la crème. Gets my smile out — every time, I re-read it.
Sea: A boat doesn’t sink because it’s in sea, it sinks when it lets the water in.
Tidbit: The longer version — “If someone tried to take control of your body and make you a slave, you would fight for freedom. Yet, how easily you hand over your mind to anyone who insults you. When you dwell on their words and let them dominate your thoughts, you make them your master.” -Epictetus.
Bank: Worry is like the interest on a bank loan you never took.
Tidbit: By far, the best way to introduce the concept of interest and credit cards.
Basketball court: “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” …You know who!
School: “I don’t want to go back to school. I’ll be 35 by the time I get my degree. You’ll be 35 anyway.”
Toilets: ‘Life isn’t about who you kiss, drunk at midnight. It’s who you text nonsense to, sober from the toilet.”
Pans and Pots: the mind is not an earthen pot to be filled, it’s a fire to be kindled — kindle it with kindness for yourself first.
Backpack: A backpack is more than enough for your most important belongings. Everything else is excess baggage.
Bed: Making the bed every morning does one thing clearly, reinforces in the mind that small rituals trigger a sense of accomplishment.
Tidbit: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey remains one of the best selling nonfiction business books in history. Never underestimate rituals.
Liquor Bars: You don’t notice your progress in life because you are always raising the bar.
Tidbit: Perfect one for unhappy overachievers.
4. From family members
Parents: If you nurture your children, you can spoil your grandchildren. But if you spoil your children, you’ll have to nurture your grandchildren.
Tidbit: We raise cattle, we nurture our children for the grand scheme — to spoil our grandchildren. If you ever wonder why your parents have softened so much as grandparents — they get the circle of life.
Smart Children: If your plan is for one year, plant rice. If your plan is for ten years, plant trees. If your plan is for one hundred years, educate children.
Tidbit: No better way to etch your legacy. My grandfather was a rice farmer on the river banks in South India. His grandchild (me), educated along the long walks together, still speaks about him from the other side of the world.
Yourself: When you decide that you look great the way you are, the world has lost 90% of its power over you.
Tidbit: Best from Socrates when questioned about his extra large nose — "my nose is beautiful, because my nostrils flare out and so I can therefore gather in more smells."
5. From the heart of a parent: What most kids want to hear from you
What I remember when I was a teenager: I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all alone in school.
What I now know (thanks to Robin Williams and school of hard knocks) : The worst thing is to end up with people who make you feel all alone.
What most kids like to hear:
5 words: I am proud of you
4 words: what is your opinion?
3 words: Will you please
2 words: Thank you
1 word : Their Name
The best antidote words to “nobody really understands me is”: “That’s interesting, tell me more.” This video illustrates it best.
For every kid inside us who grapples with the feeling of being alone in the sea of humanity — the simplest definition of friendship resonates:
Friendship is born at the moment when one person says to another “What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . .”
Wishing you the best in navigating the world.