From Pipi’s Pasture: The joy of feeling successful
Since my husband Lyle passed away, I’ve found myself having to complete chores that I’m not used to doing—chores that have never been my responsibility. In some cases I have to learn how to do them first. So lately I’ve been thinking about the wonderful feeling of success that comes with mastering some of my challenges, no matter whether it’s a simple task such as putting batteries in the weather “forecaster” or figuring out what to do when all of the dashboard controls in the car stop working.
Remember how you felt when you got your first driver’s license, the first time you made a home run, the first time you got a raise at work, or the semester that you passed college algebra? What a delicious feeling when we’re able to accomplish a goal or learn how to do something. It’s all about the need to achieve, and it’s strong in both adults and children.
Consider this scenario (from my imagination). Helen has tried—for years—to make a pie crust from scratch. She has used several different recipes and followed them exactly. Friends have suggested using lard instead of shortening. She has used different brands of flour, but each time the crust has been too thick.
Helen’s husband and children have never complained about her pie crusts, but she notices that they eat the pie filling and leave most of the crust on their plates. Helen could just buy already prepared pie crusts or give up and buy pies from the bakery, but being a good cook is important to her side of the family, so Helen keeps right on trying to make from-scratch pie crusts.
One day, Aunt Molly, whose pie crusts are “to die for,” comes by. She suggests that Helen try not to work the crust so much. They make a pie together—a pie with a flaky crust. A few days later, Helen bakes an apple pie by herself. This time her family eats the pie, crust and all. Helen did it. Success!
In another example, Tommy’s class is studying telling time, but he is having a difficult time mastering the concept. He studies the clocks in his book. He practices on a cardboard clock with movable hands, but when there’s a test at school, Tommy misses nearly every question.
Tommy’s mother says not to worry. She gives him a clock. Tommy moves the hands. That night Mother helps Tommy set the alarm for the next morning. Tommy gets up when the alarm rings. He watches when it’s time for softball practice and dinner. Tommy doesn’t realize that he’s learning to tell time. Later, there’s another time test at school. Tommy passes. He feels so good about himself.
Notice the similarities in the two examples. Helen and Tommy didn’t give up. They were encouraged by others, and they felt good about their achievements, just as I do about my success in doing all sorts of chores. (And yes, I get lots of encouragement, too.)
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