Juvenile Philosophy?

This kid is the carrot among peppers!

Is this kid the carrot among TFR peppers?

“Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what’cha gonna get.”  Thus declared the famous Forrest Gump, in a rare glimpse of his philosophical mettle way beyond his portrayed capabilities in the film.   That quote resonated for me recently when I was speaking with my 10-year old kid for his ‘sub par’ performance in his exams recently.  

I had just returned from a business trip late Saturday and was informed the next morning that my 5th grader got an A- in his math test, a subject he loves and where he always gets an A+.

It was Sunday afternoon and we were both driving around in the neighborhood to do some errands followed by ice cream (that was Junior’s incentive to join me on the drive).   I extrapolated the inference of his A- grade in Math to how success comes to those who put in the extra effort and settle for nothing less than A+ in what they like.   I took the conversation far, but mildly, into how competitive the world is, and there are thousands of kids who fall in the ‘big’ gap between A+ and A-.   I gave examples of how people fail to get into Harvard (which my kid likes only because of the way the name rolls off his tongue!) and similar top universities of the world, all for missing just a point in their competitive exam scores.  Yeah, talk about piling it on a 10-year old.

I ended my (unsolicited) sermon with the line “In this world, you need to first become successful and then be happy with the life you make with that success”.  I was rather proud of myself that I did the fatherly thing and gave a life lesson to set my son on a path to success in this hyper-competitive world.

He pondered for a moment and asked me back, “What’s wrong with the other way around?”  I said “What do you mean?” to which he replied,  “Dad, what’s wrong with being happy with whatever success you get?“.   With that, he ran out of the car to play with his friends who had gathered home by that time.

In one line, he distilled the essence of the world’s major philosophical and spiritual paths and also, stumped his old man.   Be content with whatever life gives you, what could I say to this 10-year old?

What do you think?  Take the poll below (click on the answer that appeals to you) and share your views in comments.

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4 comments on “Juvenile Philosophy?”

  1. By ZJ Thorne

    Most people can’t be excellent at every thing. As long as they are happy with the effort they put in and the results they achieved, it’s ok to focus on things of greater utility to them.

  2. By Mrs Hill

    My mother taught me these:

    If you want to feel happy, be grateful.
    If you want to be rich, feel content.

    Your child is very insightful and is a good listener. Good job!

  3. By The Money Commando

    I think you can be happy with what you have as long as you’re achieving to your desired level. That is, just because you can get an A+ with 10 hours of studying per week doesn’t mean you’re obligated to put in those 10 hours. Maybe you’ve decided that you’d rather put in 5 hours of studying Math to get an A- and spend the other 5 hours playing with your friends (to continue developing social skills, athletic skills, etc.) An A- in math is enough for you, so this decision maximizes your happiness.

    The reality is that we can’t all achieve our potential in all areas. Nobody is the best scholar, athlete, musician, employee, parent, child, sibling, and friend they can be. There’s just not enough time. So you have to decide what’s most important and what’s the minimum level you can be satisfied with in those areas.

    Obviously the great thing about financial independence is that you have a lot more time to achieve the things you want to achieve.

    • By TFR

      Thanks for this comment. I agree with you, but how do I explain this kind of optimization to my 10-year old?

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