There comes a point in time, usually between our collegiate years and mid 20s, when we start to truly appreciate our parents for all they have done in life. This ‘appreciation lifecycle’ has been evaluated by psychologists, and shows we often experience the same types of admiration for our parents at 4 years old as we do years later at age 30 and beyond. And its not because we love them more than we did when we were teenagers, its because we have seen and done enough thus far in our adulthood that enables us to appreciate all that they have given and taught us. Instead of rebelling in our own individuality, we embrace their influence and how it has shaped the individuals we are today.
I spent the last 72 hours in a row with my mom and dad. They truly are my best friends. So for no other reason than to symbolize the value of parents and the impact that they have on our lives, here is a list of the most significant lessons I learned from my parents.
Show love. I wish there was another way to use the overused cliché, ‘life is short.’ This truth is something I talk about a lot on the blog. Its because I feel it is important to regularly revisit how we can make the most of this life – since it isn’t forever. In hindsight, showing and talking about love with my parents was probably the biggest factor that led to my appreciation of love and life today. Showing love gives people strength, compassion, peace and confidence. Growing up around a strong display of affection has taught me that first you have to love yourself. Its one of the most valuable things you'll do in life. But beyond yourself, you can have a profound impact on others and that's even more powerful.
Laugh. Its ok to be silly, make jokes and take life with a grain of salt. My dad laughs 90 percent of the time, even during quiet movies – and my mom knows what it takes to get me to crack a smile when I’m being too serious. There is always time for laughter, even in the most stressful situations.
Keep learning. Whether it was a trip to see Boston’s freedom trail, the MOMA or sleepaway camp, learning was a mandatory part of my life growing up. My late grandparents and parents put a lot of value on finding education in all things, and continuing to encourage growth intellectually and emotionally at all ages.
Be open-minded. My parents taught me to accept people for where they come from and what choices they make in their own life. A person's ethnicity, sexual orientation and religion have nothing to do with our situations or the choices we make, its none of our business. Homogeneity is boring. Diversity of people and thought makes you see new perspectives and learn from others.
Eat well. It took me a while to realize that my love for good food runs deeper than the instant gratification of a bowl of pasta. Its about the experience of cooking and the enjoyment of eating a meal with the people you care about. Food brings people together and in my house, it was a binding agent that extracted the best moods, conversations and proud traditions that meant so much more to my family than fulfilling a craving. Even for struffoli.
Be genuine. There is a lot of BS in this life. Petty politics and negative energy exist everywhere. One thing that we are is genuine. My mom and dad are moral, good people. They don’t try to fit in or make people like them and they don't feed into political manipulations. My parents treat their family and friends with love and respect and make their lives brighter. They are giving, sincere and compassionate. And for all of that, I am so proud of them.
I wanted to stop in this moment of admiration and capture these simple but powerful lessons. Let the cycle continue.