The Wisdom of Momisms

Once again it is time for the annual Mother's Day column where I share some of the classic things mothers like to say and then reflect on the wellness wisdom that is contained within these classic "Momisms." What follows are a few of these sayings that I have shared in previous Mother's Day columns, along with a few new ones. I hope you enjoy them and will pass them along to others. Please also feel free to reply to this email with any of your favorite "Momisms" that I might have missed. "I'm not interested in who started it!" The wisdom here is that a lot of time and energy is often wasted in trying to figure out "who started it." Who hasn't spent more time arguing with someone about who started a problem than they have spent on resolving the problem? Focusing on "who started it" is one way of playing the "blame game," and is rarely helpful. You don't need to figure out who started a problem at work or home to be part of the solution.

 "If you keep making that face, one of these days it will freeze that way!" This "Momism" contains some great wellness applications. The first is that the behaviors we choose, over time, become habits, and habits always have consequences. It is important then to carefully observe the habits we are forming. A second application of this "Momism" has to do with the way we treat others. If I am regularly in a hurry and don't take time to be kind to people, at some point their opinion of me will "freeze." They may well come to believe that I am a person who is self-absorbed or unkind. We all form opinions of others based on their behaviors and it easy for those opinions to become frozen and difficult to change, even if the person's behaviors actually does change at some point.

 "For a friend in need, say a prayer and roast a chicken." We need to remember to integrate the spiritual with the practical. A story is told of some visitors from a church who came to call on an elderly parishioner who they knew was having trouble maintaining her home. When the visitors arrived they announced that they had come to pray with her. The woman, not missing a beat, replied, "That's great-I need prayer. But when you are done praying I'd really love for you to help me wash all those dishes piled up in the sink." Faith without works can be empty.

"This moment is fleeting in the overall scheme of things." Our emotional and spiritual wellness is enhanced when we remember two things. First, it is wise to seek to live in the present moment, and second, that any present struggle we may have is more bearable when we place it in the context of a much larger time frame.

 "Take care of a goldfish and then you can get a dog." When taking on any new challenge or responsibility it's important to start small. New habits and big goals are realized best in small steps. For example, develop a regular habit of walking before you try to run you first 5K or take a class on a subject before deciding on that major. Another way of saying this is that "Life is hard by the yard, but a cinch by the inch."

"I don't care what everybody else is doing, you are not everybody else!" Another version of this is "just because everyone else is jumping off a cliff, doesn't meant that you should, too." Both ideas are meant to encourage us to dare to think for ourselves and to remember that going along with the crowd is not always the best decision.

"The best way to have a friend is to be one." All relationships are important and need to be cared for and tended to to stay strong and healthy. We reap what we sow in relationships.

This is the more positive version of, "If you can't say something nice about someone, don't say anything at all." This reminds us of the importance of sharing our appreciation and gratitude with others, as it is what builds and strengthens individuals and relationships.

"Please call me when you get there so I will know you have arrived safely." This statement is a sweet expression of love and concern, although when we were children we probably rolled our eyes and thought our Mom was annoying and trying to control us. The wellness principle here is that it makes a positive difference to have others around us who are concerned for our well-being and to care for others as well.


As we pause to celebrate mothers today, may we also remember the wisdom that they, along with other important women in our lives, taught us over all the years, and be thankful