Moving in the Right Direction with Perspective
April 9, 2014 by VIA Contributor ·
Of the 24 character strengths perspective seems to be at the nucleus. Everyday each of us is faced with a variety of day to day choices and challenges. Our perspective has the power to positively affect all 23 other character traits.
Ben, a 16-year-old high school junior and Miles, a 12-year-old 7th grader are both attending their third school in three years. They’ve experienced their parents’ divorce and later remarrying to new people, which included a move half way across the country. They both love Nike shoes, time with their siblings and hanging out together. These two brothers have a lot in common. Ben plays varsity basketball and tennis, helps anchor the school’s broadcasting show, is active in school leadership and has reached out and is positively known by many at his new high school. Miles also plays school basketball, helps lead a variety of group projects and he’s learning to play the piano. Everyone at his school seems to know him by name and they always greet him with a high-five, smile or some other positive gesture. Ben and Miles also share the challenges associated with Tourette’s syndrome; persistent audible ticks and regular various involuntary motor ticks.
Some might think these ticks would cause them to shy away from activities and people but that has never been the case. Actually, quite the opposite is true. Neither brother has ever used their ticks as an excuse or reason to not be actively engaged with others or an activity. Their perspective has kept them positive when certain times have been more challenging than others. Ben has been challenged this school year and last with a fairly constant audible tick with less noticeable motor ticks. Miles’ ticks seem relatively low for the moment but he has dealt with much more intense motor ticks at various times and quieter audible ticks. Rarely do they tell anyone about their challenge unless they are asked. Being their likable outgoing selves just seems to be a better focus. If you ask them what bugs them the most about Tourette’s they both agree: “It’s when our ticks bother other people. It’s annoying at times, but to us they are just part of who we are.”
Their perspective has positively helped others deal with the discomfort sometimes associated with ticks as well. A school counselor helped educate Miles’ classmates about Tourette’s Syndrome when Miles was struggling with some intense motor ticks a few years ago. Miles’ best friend, Jace, asked a priceless question: “So,” he started, “he is still the same old Miles’ though right?” Yes Jace, he is! Last year Ben was standing around talking with a group of kids at school when his friend noticed that Ben kept making a sound like he was clearing his throat under his breath (Ben’s audible tick at the time). Chandler had never been told of Ben’s Tourette’s but was familiar with the syndrome and recognized it. He decided to show his support to Ben by disguising Ben’s tick with his own throat clearing sounds on occasion too!
Everyone has challenges and we all have the opportunity to choose how we take them on. As Ben and Miles’ mom, I have asked myself at times if I wished they didn’t have to deal with the challenge of Tourette’s? The quick reaction answer is: Yes! I would love all my kids to be protected from life’s difficult challenges. The more thoughtful answer is: No, it has truly helped build their character and that is a fantastic thing! Along with building their perspective character strength, these boys are very compassionate, understanding and sensitive to other’s challenges in life.
The challenges we face in life don’t need to define us. It’s the way we conquer the challenges that make one great! Ben and Miles’ character strengths have become more developed partially due to the challenges of Tourette’s and therefore it’s actually been a benefit. It was interesting and fun to find out that Ben and Miles also share in having 4 of the same top 5 character traits; social intelligence, honesty, gratitude and humor. It’s no wonder they handle what they do so well.
-By Karen Seymour
Read more from Karen on her blog: housetohomelite.com