“If you could only sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to the people you may never even dream of. There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person.”
What immediately pops into your head when you hear the name Mr. Rogers? If you are among my generation and you’re from North America, you may start to sing.… “It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood, a beautiful day in the neighborhood. Would you be mine…won’t you be mine……..won’t you…. be my neighbor?”
When I was a little girl, I used to watch Mr. Rogers on television. I can recall a sweet, calm and patient man wearing a warm cozy cardigan and putting on his sneakers as he entered his home. This was the way he began each show. If you were to ask many people who are familiar with his show what they thought about him, most would probably say that Mr. Rogers was just another airy fairy kid’s show entertainer from the past. How accurate is this assessment of him?
While doing some mindfulness research this past week, I came across a TED Talk by a pediatrician, and researcher, Dimitri Christakis. It was Christakis’ talk that led me to learn more about the amazing work of Fred Rogers. Rogers’ program was so simple in nature, yet focused on real life lessons, expression of feelings, and self-control. The show was slow-paced with none of the modern day blitz of fast paced scene changes and blaring music that accompanies many of the shows that young children watch today. I remember how relaxed and unhurried Mr. Rogers was.
I’ve learned that behind the scenes Fred Rogers was an incredibly passionate advocate for children’s mental health and well-being. In every episode, he taught extremely important life lessons through the scripts he created each week, the 200+ songs that he wrote himself and the valuable messages that he delivered to young people.
I believe that his message about the necessity to slow down, reflect, choose our words wisely, and be compassionate individuals was firmly rooted in the seeds of being mindful well before the term mindfulness even became a buzz word.
His messages about going back to basics were simple, yet incredibly wise. He focused on the importance of showing greater patience in our lives. He constantly advocated for the mental health of young people and went to extraordinary lengths to further this cause.
Fred Rogers was a believer in expressing gratitude for those who matter in our lives but equally believed that we all have something special to offer others as seen in the quote at the top of this blog post. He definitely knew the significance of mental health for all and the value in expressing gratitude for those who matter, in our lives.
The You Tube link below shows a beautiful moment in which he accepts a lifetime achievement award from the academy. During his speech he practices loving kindness by remembering all of the support he had received from family, friends, co-workers and even those who have passed on.
Standing before an Oscar audience of acclaimed actors, actresses, and directors he gently reminds everyone to pause and observe 10-seconds of silence in order to reflect and give gratitude to those who have helped them achieve great success in life. Using his own wrist watch to time off the 10 seconds, Fred Rogers asks everyone to think about the people who have cared, supported, and guided them up until this present point in their lives.
In week 2 of my #MindsetMonday challenge I would like to ask you to take just 10 seconds out of each morning to remember all those who have made a difference in your life. Who has supported you in whatever it is you have pursued in your life? Who has been your biggest advocate and who has been there to guide you? This simple act of being mindful elicits gratitude in a conscious way. By acknowledging the people in your lives, and directly sending out gratitude in their direction, you will in turn improve your own health and well-being.
So, in the thoughtful words of one of Mr. Roger’s well-known songs, “Let’s make the most of this beautiful day”. Let’s indeed make this most of each beautiful day this week.
Remember those who have supported you, breath and strive to give the gift of your honest self.
Neila Steele & Andy Vasily