Saturday, January 7, 2012

Vacation is a State of Mind - How to Get The Truly Wonderful Things in Life

"Vacation used to be a luxury, but in today's world it is a necessity." - Unknown 

Japan sure has a lot of holidays. I like that about Japan. I mean, who doesn't like holidays? "Holiday" means that it is time to spend away from work and with family. 

Too bad not enough people take advantage of that.

It's a Saturday and the start of a three-day weekend here in Japan. I hope that I can take this holiday and use it to rest more and spend more time with my son and other children.... 

I shouldn't say "hope. I should say, "I will." I must have the state of mind that "I do" and not "I hope." 

"I hope" is a pretty terrible business plan. 

Barbecuing trout that we caught fishing near Atsugi

This post is for you good folks with children. Everyone who has children thinks, "Our children grow up so fast." But I think, more often than not, that's where the thinking stops. We should add to that thinking, "How can I add to what little time I have left with these kids?" We must always remember to stop and smell the roses along the way.

My son is now 8-years-old. Why, just the other day, it seems, he was a baby.

Heck, it seems just like yesterday, he was born. I can remember it well. He was born at about 2:30 in the morning at a hospital in Tokyo. My wife's parents were both there. My son being born was a big deal for them as he is the first and only boy in the entire family. Everyone else has had girls. Being "number one son" is a very important and traditional role in Asian societies.

I remember after he was just born, for about the first two years of his life, I would take him in the stroller for walks everyday that wasn't too cold or raining and go to the park and back. It was about a one hour walk, round trip. Starting when he was 6 months old, until he was six-years-old, I would go to bed with him at night, every night, and we would read books together. I like to think that's why he is such an advanced reader. He had read the children's classic "Charlotte's Web" by the time he was 4 years old. I did that religiously until he entered into first grade.

Within three months of first grade, he was jumped up to second grade and his school work load increased and, with that, time with dad decreased. That was almost two years ago. Now, he is in 3rd grade at school. 

Everyone has memories like this about their kids too. 

My son and second daughter, Sheena

Now I look at him and I just sigh. He will soon be nine. He has his own iPad, computer, friends at school... He goes to Karate class, takes music and piano lessons and spends time with friends. Heck, he has an hour or more of homework every night and piano practice too! Sure, he still likes to spend time with mom and dad, but I know from experience that, from 4th grade, kids really start to spread their wings and will, little by little, stop spending so much time with mom and dad. 

Time goes by so fast.

One thing that I saw in his room last night that made me chuckle and remember my own experiences as a child and times with my own father, rest in peace, was a book that he had checked out from the school library. It was entitled "How to Beat Your Dad at Chess." I picked the book up and laughed. Surely, beating your dad at chess is a mountain to climb when you are a boy. Once you do it, you will see other mountains to climb. But this book shows that still dad is #1... But not for long. 

I write this blog post now because I want to stress to you fathers out there and remind you that, even though Christmas just ended and the New Year's Holidays are over, that doesn't mean that we should go back to "business as usual." Yes, of course we must work and feed our families, but isn't it also a good time to access what we have and to try to appreciate it more?

Isn't it a good time to slow down and to try to enjoy what we have while we have it?

Yesterday, I met a friend at the grocery store whom I hadn't seen for quite a while. We exchanged pleasantries and he asked about my work and I asked about his. The part of the conversation that really stuck in my mind was his final comment,

"At least we both have jobs. I know a lot of people who are out of work." Come to think of it, I reckon that I do too. We are lucky, we have jobs and we have families.

I know, though, far too many fathers who are chasing the all mighty dollar and exchanging their time with their families for money. I don't mean some of their time, I mean all of their time. I know fathers who are away from their families for months, even years. I think they have lost sight of the purpose of work. 

In Japan, we have what is called "Tanshin Funin." Father's are transferred away from their families and miss out on seeing their children grow up. I even know one family where the father lived away for over ten years! Does it surprise dear reader that, ultimately, those parents divorced?

I'd never do that. While I might transfer for a few months or maybe six, I quit I'd quit my job instead of living away from my family on a semi-permanent basis. Why? Heck, the kids are only children once. What is the price of missing out on seeing them and growing with them?

Of course, the example above is an extreme case, but how many of us dads leave for work from early in the morning and do not come home until after the kids are asleep and we do that six days a week? On Sundays, we are so dead tired that we sleep all day? How is that enjoying life and spending time with the kids? 

What do we work for? We work to feed and house our families so that they can be happy. How can a family truly be happy without the father around to enjoy all the fruits life gives us daily?

I have often written about how I write down my goals for life and for that day in my notebook. I do it religiously everyday. I have written before about that One Step to Becoming a Better Parent and More Successful in Life:

I write down my goals every day religiously in the morning when I wake up and, not only does doing so help me to achieve them, it also helps me to relax and stay much more focused through the day. Who doesn't want to stay more focused in this day and age when our "in-box" includes, for most people, several e-mail accounts that are constantly filling up as the day goes by and consistently altering our priorities? Add on an Internet world filled with Social Media like Facebook and Linkedin accounts to attend? Twitter is no longer for just sending messages to your friends, but it too, has been co-opted into the business world and your boss orders you to use them, or blogs and SNS, to get the company message out...

How in the world can anyone today get ahead of the pile in the "in-box"? Any person in their right mind would be stressed.

.....let me point out that writing down your goals and purposes is like having a sort of road map to where you want to go. When you write them down, they enter your subconsciousness and they cause your inner brain to focus upon the Law of Attraction. If you do not write down where you want to go — if you do not have a map — then how will you know where you are going?

I recently have started writing down two more things in my daily notes. I wouldn't call them "goals" necessarily, but in the effort to create the "Law of Attraction," I write them down to try to make sure they come true. Those two goals are:

1) Thank you god for all the wonderful things I have and all the truly wonderful things I am about to receive.

2) All my loved ones are healthy and prosper.

From today, I think I am again going to add something more:

3) I spend one hour today with my son playing a game or reading a book together.

Dads (and working moms) remember that family fun and spirit of Christmas you had the other day? Remember the warmth and feeling of "family" when you share time together? Isn't there a song that says, "I wish everyday could be like Christmas?" Of course, we have jobs to do and bills to pay, but remember over this weekend and at every chance you get with your kids to make those moments special. 

Like I said, I know everyone is busy, so lastly, here's a quick tip to help you:

Trying to spend more time with your kids is tough, but here's a simple way to do that better. Here is a good way to better the time that you do spend together and it's so simple, if even for only a few moments a day: 

Whenever your child talks to you give them your total attention; put down that newspaper or cellphone; Close the computer laptop. Look them straight in the eye and show complete interest in what they say when they are talking. Give your child your total self and complete undivided attention. Give them your all. Listen - really listen - to what your child has to say.

Show your child that you love them and respect them. As I wrote in Most Men Die With Regrets:

Share time now with your children because now isn't coming back ever again. Give your child a hug and spend time with them while you can.

The future is coming sooner than you can imagine. Don't kid yourself. No matter how much time you spend with your children, one day, you'll wish you had spent more. Do it now. 

Today is the start of a wonderful weekend. Start making great memories and spending more time with your children today.

NOTE: Lastly to help you more appreciate what we have, please enjoy this wonderful short video sent to me by my dear friend Paul Kitabayashi. It brought a tear to my eye.

Have a wonderful weekend!

1 comment:

Ryu Oni said...

I don't have a child yet (I'm only 22!) but I know I want to be a good father, when the time comes. Reading things like this gives me my own map on what I should strive to do for my child, so thanks!
My main worry, like most people in world right now, is the money. I want to make sure I can bring them up in a comfortable enviroment and never have them go wanting (but try never to spoil them, either).
Thanks for the post!