smell the flowerIt’s no secret that for a long time now there’s been an increasing pressure from parents to push kids in the direction of achievement. In the past if you’re kid got into Stanford, Harvard, or any of the top schools the parents could rest and pat themselves on the back for a job well done. Right now, more people are graduating from top schools and finding there’s nowhere to go.  They’ve been trained to achieve all their lives and are now finding a massive void in the market and perhaps in their perception of what really matters in life.

I’m not saying that being straddled with large student loans and the inability to get a job isn’t a real stressor. But today more parents are finding themselves wondering if they made a mistake in not focusing more on the non-achievement oriented things in life that lead to simple pleasures and happiness.

If we take a step back we might see that some of our happiest times are those where we slow down and become mindful of the simple things in life. As we pay attention to our bodies, we can be grateful for the ability to see, hear, smell, taste and touch (or for most of these if one is missing). Some of my happiest moments are those where my family and I didn’t leave our house at all and played together, ate together and rested together.

Becoming mindful of the life around us is completely free and can help you regulate emotions during difficult times, create more flexibility and creativity in decision making, cultivate resilient feelings like gratitude, empathy and compassion and open you up to things that you can enjoy in life.

I’m not advocating for getting rid of achievement or ditching any ideals or efforts to get hired, but more to open the mind to the idea that we are active participants in our own health and well-being despite the more difficult conditions.

This may be a lesson to the rest of us whose kids are not yet in college that making achievement in school the primary focus may be something to reconsider. In what ways may it be important to broaden the scope of what really matters in life to be finding value in the simple things?

In the words of the late Richard Carlson, author of Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff–and it’s all small stuff  “Be grateful for the good times and graceful during the more difficult times.”

A little mindfulness can help us during these times and bring our kids up to realize this piece of wisdom.

As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction creates a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.

Young woman photo available from Shuterstock.