7 Things I Learned From Mom



As Harriet Beecher Stowe said, “Most mothers are instinctive philosophers.” My mom has certainly been the source of constant inspiration. Anyone who has heard me speak has heard stories about her. Although she is highly educated and accomplished, her advice is usually quite simple yet powerful if applied. I didn’t always listen to her growing up, but now I savor every word.

Here’s seven things I learned from Mom:

1. Remember Who You Are — If I ever catch myself operating out of fear or selling myself short, I think of this mantra that Mom has said to me many times over the years. It revives my spirit and brings back self-confidence when I’m steeped in self-doubt. It is a reminder to hold to my own standards and not lose myself by seeking to fit societal norms or someone else’s vision of me. It affirms my innate value and prompts me to live by the great “I Am” statements: I Am Smart. I Am Beautiful. I Am Worthy.

2. Watch Your Thoughts — I was taught that thoughts are things and that life is a mirror and will reflect back to you what you think into it. If your mind is consistently focused on abundance, then you’re going to see the opportunities around you. If your consciousness is clouded with thoughts of lack, then you will think yourself into inertia. Therefore, in addition to telling me not to wrinkle my forehead, Mom would tell me to nix negative thoughts that would put a wrinkle in my life plans.

3. Focus On The “Can-Do” — Mom says, “The only way to do it… is to do it!” If I am ever stuck, she asks, “What’s your Can-Do?” No matter how dreary a situation may look or how overwhelmed you may feel, there is always something you can do. Instead of focusing on limitations and what has gone wrong, determine what actions you can take and just do it. Kickstart your momentum by taking small steps so you can have consistent wins. This builds what psychologists call “self-efficacy” and can motivate you to take the next step.

4. Beauty Comes From The Inside Out — I was blessed to grow up around two incredibly beautiful women: Mom and my cousin Jayne Kennedy Overton. My mom has a classic Lena Horne type of beauty even now at almost age 80. Jayne was Miss Ohio and one of the first women sportscasters as host of The NFL Today TV show in the 1970s. What is most impressive still about both of these women is their generous and loving natures. That taught me early on that true beauty is a spirit that emanates from the heart. The other incredible woman who embodies true beauty is my mentor/teacher 96-year-old yoga master Tao Porchon-Lynch who shows us all what is possible if we live with wonder.

96-year-old Yoga Master Tao Porchon-Lynch and 79-year-old Journalist Janie Sykes-Kennedy

96-year-old Yoga Master Tao Porchon-Lynch and 79-year-old Journalist Janie Sykes-Kennedy

5. To Have A Friend You Must Be A Friend — I have not always been the greatest friend. My sister was the one on the telephone sharing with a girlfriend, while I was alone in my room reading. I can be introverted and absorbed in my own inner life. Now, whenever that happens, I remember this statement from Mom. It prompts me to come out of hibernation and reach out to those dear to me. By doing that, I have learned to nurture deeper connections and experience true friendship.

6. Be Thankful For Good And Bad Times — My family has gone through a lot of crisies over the last decade, from watching Dad deteriorate and die from Alzheimer’s Disease to Mom battling and then coming through Stage 3 Cancer. No matter what, Mom always seems to have a spirit of gratitude. It’s not enough to wait for good times to be thankful. We need to cultivate an attitude of gratitude in every circumstance — even if the only thing you can think to be grateful for right now is being alive.

7. Life Is Now — Mom always reminds me that no matter what you do — or don’t do — times goes by. Often we live a conditional life. Have you ever said to yourself, “I’ll be happy when (I get a new job, a new mate, a new home, etc.)”? Don’t wait to be happy. Life is now, so find joy in this moment. As it’s been said, this is not a dress rehearsal. This is the main event!

The greatest lesson from Mom comes from simply watching how she lives. Her commitment to family is evident and her strong quiet spirit touches everyone she meets. She is the embodiment of the “fruit of the spirit” — love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. She walks her talk and shows us how we can each be leaders in our own lives.

Teresa Kay-Aba Kennedy is a Harvard-trained strategist, digital consultant and World Economic Forum Young Global Leader. She helps companies operate more efficiently and individuals live more effectively through her company Power Living Enterprises. A seasoned yoga/mindfulness teacher and executive/life coach, she is also an internationally-recognized voice in Personal Empowerment, Leadership and Health & Sustainability. In addition, she is the co-author (with her mom, Columbia University-trained journalist Janie Sykes-Kennedy) of Dancing Light: The Spiritual Side of Being Through the Eyes of a Modern Yoga Master – an inspirational memoir on 96-year-old yoga master Tao Porchon-Lynch.

The original article was published in The Huffington Post.

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