I've said these things to my children as explanations, defense, justification, or warning of the truths that are the underpinnings of how life seems to work. It provokes 🙄 but not disagreement.
  1. DO YOUR BEST WORK. I don't care about your grades but I expect you to put forth your best effort even if you find the activity stupid/boring/wasting your time. Your best effort, for that day (not every hit is a home run), is required, we call that integrity I expect you to practice it.
    My kids were/are great students, we were really lucky; they were good readers and had wonderful teachers. They both hated this statement - a lot. They claimed that their friends brought home A's to celebration 🎉 and sometimes cash 💰 payments, whereas the standard of 'best work' was nebulous, creating real pressure upon them. When asked what will they encourage their own children to do, they both said 'yeah, best work is the way to go'. I stand by my approach.
  2. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS DESERVE. To suggest that someone is deserving means that they are judged and deemed as such. Who gets to make that call? It is a word and action that falls to the realm of the Divine, as a mere mortal you and I may not asses the merits of others or ourselves in comparison to claim an advantage because we 'deserve' it.
    I won't allow this word in my house. Work hard earn something, there are no guarantees or privileges that you are entitled to. Life is really, really unfair. Bad things happen to good people all the time and good things happen to villains routinely. I can't tell you why that is but it's not because someone deserves it or doesn't. No one deserves cancer. Everyone deserves love. And yet .....
  3. THERE IS ALWAYS A PRICE TO PAY. I hate that this is true and especially because it was my mother who originated this statement. She was touchy-feely, granola no emotion goes ignored... but this hard edged worldview came from her.
    What it means is even the best things in your life come with a cost. It can be annoyance, irritation, actual money but there is always a price. For instance that person you're dating who's like really cute and has great taste in music and fabulous in bed, might root for the Phillies or worse the loathed Cowboys. Is that a price you're willing to pay to be with them? A great job with a hell commute... a soul crushing career that pays buckets of money....always a price to pay.
  4. HAPPY IS UNREASONABLE, ASPIRE FOR NOT MISERABLE it's much more easily attained. This sounds darker than it is. Happiness difficult to maintain 24/7 that's because you don't generally live in a vacuum where only good things occur and unicorns run around. We live in a complicated world and experience a whole wide range of feelings.
    I think of 'happy' as being clean. Jump out of the shower and that's as sparkling as you are going to be all day. It feels great 👍 now in living your life positive and negative things take place, we respond to them, and you can feel content, joy, stressed, energized, excited, terrified maybe just as good as when you got out of the shower, but maybe not. You know how to get clean again, trying to maintain that feeling all day is not always possible. Not miserable is not a bad goal.
    Self explanatory.
  6. MASTER THE MUNDANE:Figure out how to manage the care and feeding of your life, try to do it routinely and without complaint, and it becomes background noise, freeing up the head space and time to do the stuff you care about.
    I'm still struggling to set this example. But I've written this in letters to them time and time again. This is where having help, helps. It's about taking care of yourself even when it feels hard to do so.