Believe it or not, we’re quickly approaching Father’s Day! As I shared in my post 5 of the Best Things My Mother Taught Me, I’ve always been close with my parents, and I’m so grateful for that. They’ve taught me so much over the years, through the examples they set, the lessons they shared, and the advice they gave.
While I’ve always looked up to them, there’s something about being older and wiser that’s allowed me to better appreciate both the big and small learnings along the way. Like I did for my mom, today I’ll be sharing a blog post dedicated to my dad’s wisdom. Here are 5 of the most valuable things my father taught me.
#1. Choose experiences over things.
My parents are both fantastic gift givers, and often make an effort to gift me an experience versus a thing. And whether they planned it to or not, it’s the experiential gifts that stand out in my mind years later: The tickets to see a musical in London. The coaching sessions.
They reinforced the value of experiencing things versus simply accumulating “stuff”. And this is something my dad, in particular, embodies.
He’s one of the least materialistic people I know and has never had much of a need for “things”. While this used to drive me crazy since it makes him hard to shop for, it made me get more creative in finding gifts.
Instead of browsing websites looking for ideas, I turned to what’s important to him and went from there. A music subscription to keep him inspired throughout his work day came to mind. Gear for his next hiking trip, which was more about the activity than the physical items. It caused me to reflect on what he values and think through how to add more to his quality of life.
This lesson has helped me prioritize experiences without feeling guilt. Before I may have felt that buying a course or spending money on travel was silly since I didn’t have anything concrete to show for it. But now I see how much I gain (even on an intangible level) that is far more valuable than an physical item.
#2. Mindfulness is one of the most powerful tools you can use.
For as long as I can remember, my dad has been into meditation. This was long before it was “cool”, and definitely before spirituality became more mainstream. He understands how to quiet his mind and become present, as well as how to focus on a particular thought or intention. In fact, the more I learn about meditation myself, the more I see how it’s driven his success and contributed to his sense of inner peace.
Like everything with my dad, he never sat me down and told me I had to learn how to meditate. Instead, it was gentle nudges over the years to turn my focus inwards and practice stillness. It was a meditation book here, an offhand remark there.
I’ve finally started integrating meditation into my daily routine, and even though I’m no pro, I can see its benefits. Simply observing my thoughts and letting them pass gives me greater distance from them and lets me see things with greater clarity. It’s helped ease my anxiety and give me greater control over my emotions. And it’s something I’ll always be grateful to him for teaching me.
#3. Stay curious.
When I was in elementary school, my dad would say the same thing every morning: “Ask some questions!” While it may seem like an offhand remark, its meaning wasn’t lost on me. He encouraged me to stay curious and inquisitive. To clarify things I didn’t understand. To truly seek to understand. And to never feel silly or shameful for raising my hand.
In fact, I wrote a blog post about this called Why it Really Pays to be a Curious Person.
But that message also struck a deeper chord and has inspired me to be curious with respect to my life’s path and my potential. I started to ask myself questions like: Why can’t I start a side hustle while working full time? How can I turn my passion into a business? If not now, when?
Just like I didn’t let my teachers off the hook, I didn’t let myself either. And a hunger for knowledge and a desire to dig deeper are things I carry with me with pride.
#4. It’s what’s inside that counts.
If I had a nickel for every time my dad said I could wear a paper bag and still be beautiful, I’d be rich! Along with his lack of materialism is his focus on what’s on the inside.
As I mentioned in my post 5 of the Best Things My Mother Taught Me, my parents let me dress myself for most of my life and never made me conform to any beauty standards. And my dad in particular always reinforced how it doesn’t matter what we wear or how our hair looks, but how we show up in the world, treat others, and make a difference.
So while this message may sound cliche, I would be remiss to not mention it.
While I wouldn’t say I’m nearly as confident in my own skin as he is, the lessons he imparted on me have helped me to embrace my differences, not feel the need to wear makeup every day, and worry less about what I wear.
#5. Adopt a mindset of serving others.
Both my parents have been active in their communities for as long as I can remember, volunteering on boards, hosting people for dinner, and donating their time. And if I were to sum up my dad’s approach, it would probably be around being of service.
My dad taught me the importance of contributing to groups and causes that are important to you, and using your unique skills and experience to make a difference.
It’s that lesson that inspired me to volunteer with kids and in the Jewish community, and later to help organize conferences and act as a business mentor for others. While I volunteered my time in order to help others, I gained so much myself from these experiences.
I wish you all a happy Father’s Day and I would LOVE to hear what lessons you’ve learned from your dads! Please let me a comment and share 🙂