The Meaning
behind Our Words
T.W. Winslow


I recently overheard a conversation between two people who were talking about parenting.  One made the comment that her mother always said, "Do as I say, not as I do."  I smiled when I heard this, for who hasn't at one time or another said one thing, but did the exact opposite?  None of us are perfect and we are bound to make mistakes.    However, to live by the fallacy that it matters not what we do so long as what we say is correct, is like building a house of cards - it simply doesn't stand up. 

When I think of those who have inspired me, those whom I admire, and those whom I hold up as an example of what kind of person I wish to be, I realize it's not their words, but rather who they are and how they live their lives, which speak the loudest. 

When faced with a problem or difficult decision in my life I often think of my grandfather and consider how he might have handled the situation.  Interestingly before his passing many years ago, I don't recall my grandfather and I ever having any long talks about honesty, integrity or even life in general.  We didn't need to, for his actions and his life spoke volumes.  He was a man of few words to be sure, but one from whom I learned a great deal.  And even though he's not with us any more, I continue to learn from him and his life.

I can only imagine the hardships he faced and the courage it took for him to travel halfway across the country to homestead his modest farm.  Even on my best day I could never have endured the long days of back-breaking work which were an everyday part of his life.  From the unforgiving earth he provided for his wife and four small children, never asking anything more from life than what he was willing to earn through sweat and sacrifice.

Despite his hardships and endless work he was a good husband and loving father.  Known for his quick wit and keen sense of humor, love and laughter filled the home which he had made with his own two hands.  Though a simple farmer he was extremely intelligent and a sharp businessman.  He was one whose word was truly his bond and whose handshake was as binding as any legal contract.

I need only to look at my grandfather's life - who he was and how he lived, to understand that what we do does matter, and matters most.  For words by themselves are hollow indeed and in the absence of action are meaningless.  "Do as I say, not as I do," may get a smile, but little more.


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Yes, life can be mysterious and confusing--but there's much of life that's actually rather dependable and reliable.  Some principles apply to life in so many different contexts that they can truly be called universal--and learning what they are and how to approach them and use them can teach us some of the most important lessons that we've ever learned.
My doctorate is in Teaching and Learning.  I use it a lot when I teach at school, but I also do my best to apply what I've learned to the life I'm living, and to observe how others live their lives.  What makes them happy or unhappy, stressed or peaceful, selfish or generous, compassionate or arrogant?  In this book, I've done my best to pass on to you what I've learned from people in my life, writers whose works I've read, and stories that I've heard.  Perhaps these principles can be a positive part of your life, too!
Universal Principles of Living Life Fully.  Awareness of these principles can explain a lot and take much of the frustration out of the lives we lead.


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