Almost all parents have that corny conversation with their kids about what life was like when they were growing up: “When I was your age, we walked to school, uphill, both ways.” (I can just hear the response: “That’s so yesterday,” accompanied by eye rolling.) Yet, while progress has been made on many fronts, some things have been lost in our quest for advancement. It never hurts to reflect back to when times were a little simpler. Maybe, just maybe, we could learn something. Are you racing in the wrong direction?
That’s So Yesterday
In years past:
- We chatted with our mouth rather than texting with our fingers.
- We counted on our friends rather than counting the number of them.
- Spinning the truth was known as lying.
- Doctors spent more time with patients than they did filling out paperwork.
- Walter Cronkite, anchor of the CBS Evening News, was considered the most trusted man in America. (That’s not fake news.)
- Kids who used foul language got their mouths washed out with soap.
- Parents disciplined their kids without anyone considering it child abuse.
- We were expected to eat everything on our plate because “There are people starving in the world.”
- Winners received trophies while losers were taught never to quit.
- If we wanted something — we worked for it. Period.
- The only thing we were entitled to was a lecture if we disobeyed our parents.
- If we didn’t have the money, we simply didn’t buy it.
- Good manners were expected and not a rarity.
- Parents spent quality time with their kids rather than using the iPad as a babysitter.
- Our behavior was a reflection of our upbringing. (So you better be good!)
- John F. Kennedy inspired a generation of leaders.
- We said the Pledge of Allegiance, to honor our country, every morning before school.
- Parents weren’t chauffeurs. If we wanted to go somewhere, we walked or rode our bike.
- We turned off the lights before we left the room — or it was considered wasteful.
- We were taught that hard work builds character.
- Freedom of speech was celebrated — enough said.
- We took good care of our things because they would be passed down to our sibling.
- Television programs reinforced American values. Foul language wasn’t tolerated.
- The American work ethic was considered the envy of the world.
- Elders received respect and always had the final word.
- Our freedoms were never taken for granted. After all, people gave their lives to protect them.
- Christmas was called Christmas. And nobody got offended.
- Air travel was considered luxurious.
- Volunteering meant raising our own hand rather than pointing to others.
- We had dinner as a family — imagine that!
A Step in the Right Direction
Am I suggesting that life was perfect in the good ’ole days? Absolutely not! We still had our share of problems. And we’ve certainly made progress on many fronts. Am I proposing a return to yesteryear? Hardly. But that doesn’t mean we should march forward, blindly, if things haven’t turned out as we planned. The fact is, just because it’s new doesn’t make it better.
If well-intentioned actions have produced unintended consequences, it may be time for a course correction. Does your behavior:
- Create stronger relationships or weaken them?
- Make your life easier or cause additional stress?
- Bring out the best or reveal the worst in people?
- Add to your quality of life or diminish it?
- Make you proud, or will it be a source of regret one day?
I’m not suggesting that we go backward. But it pays to move forward in a conscious manner. As Yogi Berra said, “You can observe a lot by just watching.” The fact is, if you can’t make it better, don’t make it worse. Change is wonderful — if it’s in the right direction.
Are You Racing in the Wrong Direction?
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