When I was growing up and would complain about having to do a chore or if I had a negative attitude about a school assignment, my mom used to say to me, “Kopf hoch,” which is German for “hold your head up high.” Basically the subtle message that I gleaned from my parents was that I should have a good attitude about the situation I was in, the idea of making the most of your circumstances, no matter what.

You know, seeing the cup half full rather than half empty.

While I taught English at Horizon Christian High School, I had students write down daily quotes in their journals they created at the start of the year, and I also shared certain sayings with them throughout the week. One of them was a simple one, but had a lot of meaning:

“Attitude is everything.”

I especially used to say that to my students when they would complain or whine about having to read a lot pages in a particular novel for a unit, or having to complete a detailed assignment or having a short turn-around on an essay they were writing.

“Attitude is everything. Instead of complaining, say, ‘Thank you Mrs. Seigneur.’ I’m so glad we get to write this paper,” or a similar comment dependent upon the situation at hand.

Of course it was all a bit exaggerated and meant to be a bit funny, but nonetheless, the message was clear. And it worked. When students would begin complaining about something, I’d just have to begin to say, “Attitude is everything,” and they would turn it around and say, “Thank you Mrs. Seigneur for assigning this paper,” and so on.

I still hear from students who say that they remember some of my sayings and they still chuckle about them.

Now, to be clear, I know there is a time to air our complaints and there is a time to share what is on our hearts and all doesn’t have to be rosy and clear blue sky; I too like to be real. But there are times when we do just have to buckle up our boots and get the job done, and there is a time when whining is not what we want to hear.

It doesn’t always have to be fun; it just has to get done (that sounds like a great quote).

It doesn’t have to be perfect; it just has to get accomplished (that sounds like another great quote).

This placing an importance on having a positive attitude is the idea behind my philosophy of parenting and life: It’s all about the adventure. It’s how you look at things. It’s your perspective.

I love the word Adventure. I’m an outdoors kind of person. I grew up hiking and camping and walking places and traveling and when you are on an adventure, it is about the fun and it’s about exploring and you are usually in a good mood.

The dictionary definition of the noun adventure is: An unusual and exciting, typically hazardous, experience or activity, while the definition of the verb adventure is: to engage in hazardous and exciting activity, especially the exploration of unknown territory.

I love the idea of exploring an “unknown territory.”

When we explore unknown territory, we are full of wonder and curiosity and freshness. It feels like an opportunity, one that we don’t take for granted. Going into the unknown.

When we are familiar with something, when it is there every day, when we have easy access, it can become commonplace and ordinary, which then lends itself to becoming something we do not appreciate as much.

Like getting to read a book.

Like getting to write a paper.

Like going outside on a walk.

Or, like making lunches every day for our kids. Like attending our kids’ sporting events. Like making dinners every night.

I’ve called and written about how “the ordinary” is actually “extraordinary.” We especially realize this idea when we don’t have the ordinary anymore.

Walking becomes especially important to us when we cannot walk anymore. Breathing seems like such a gift when we almost have died. We may miss making lunches for our kids when they are “flown and grown.”

My husband got a water bottle for me that says: “Travel to the Unknown Parts of Parts Unknown.” 

Love it. Yep, the unknown is exciting and scary and adventurous.

Like life is if we look at it that way.

The Adventure of Parenting and Life: It’s all about the Attitude.

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