I found this awesome cartoon online yesterday and it really touched me. As you may remember, we had our first baby girl a few months ago. Every child that has been born into our lives has given me a moment to pause and think about how I can raise them to be happy, confident and charitable adults. What are the things I can do now that will benefit them in the future?
My greatest desire for all of my children is that they can be better than me in every way. The main reason I started Successify was so I could have some ideas to pass along to my children as they grow; or maybe my grandchildren some day when I am gone.
The Greeks had a great quote that says, “A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.”
What an amazing concept. It is not a popular idea in this day and age. We are a part of the generations who are increasingly focused on “me”. In general, we do things that only benefit us. We go on Facebook to tell people about what we are eating, what we are listening to, or any number of unimportant daily events. We love to post pictures of ourselves as often as possible. It seems like the explosion of social media may be less linked to the social aspect and more linked to the “me”dia aspect.
But what are we doing for the generations after us? What are we doing to add meaning to our life so that it will benefit our children and grandchildren? What seeds have you planted today?
Here are just a few ideas:
1. Plant a tree! I know this is a cop-out because the cartoon above was all about planting a tree. But how cool would it be to show your kids a tree that you planted when they were born? Or to have your grandchildren climb on the branches of that same tree?
2. Keep a journal. A lot of people tell me that Facebook is their journal. If that’s the case, your journal probably kind of sucks. Not that your life isn’t interesting, but 50 years from now your grandkids or great grandkids aren’t going to care what you thought about the American Idol finale or the new pair of shoes you got. They will want to know how you thought and felt about your life events. They will want to see how you struggled as a young family or the sacrifices you made to start a business. They will want to see how you dealt with social anxiety or how you felt about spending time with your family. You have an opportunity to help them through the experiences you are going through right now. Start a journal and don’t just write what you do, write how you feel.
3. Save money. Learn how to be smart and frugal with your money. You won’t have to say a word to your kids about being smart with their money if they see you doing it as they grow up. Help them learn the blessings of work and the value of a buck. Spoil them at their own risk.
4. Get involved with a charity. Spending time in the service of others is a noble work and will add immense value to your life. It will help you to overcome feelings of selfishness or “self-centeredness”. When people are eulogized at their funeral, very rarely do you hear a moving speech about how much the person worked on their own self-improvement or building up their own financial empire. When we pass, the greatest of us will be remembered for what we gave to others.
Let us all start “planting trees we may never sit under” so that those who come after us can benefit from our lives. Our bodies may go back into the earth but the love we share and the things we teach can be immortalized in the hearts of the young.