How to See Gifts in All Experiences

hidden_gifts1I was totally inspired by this post from Scott Noelle. If you don’t subscribe to his Daily Groove, I’d highly recommend it. It sets a great tone for my day:

“Perfectionistic parenting is rooted in the false idea that it’s bad to make a mistake or fall short of one’s expectations.

But if you think about it, you can derive value from any experience — no matter how “bad” it is or how much pain it involves — IF you’re willing to look for the hidden gifts.

The hidden gift is like your child’s invisible friend. Did you ever have an invisible friend? Or maybe a stuffed animal that was so real, it was alive to you. If so, you’ll know what I mean when I say that the only person who benefits from this reality is you. And really that’s the only thing that matters. Remember on Sesame Street when Big Bird was the only one who could see Mr. Snuffalufagus? It didn’t matter to Snuffy that no one else could see him. And to Big Bird, he had a real friend.

Hidden gifts were my real friends during this last, very tumultuous year of life. The act of asking myself, as Scott does, “what is the gift here?” gave me the opportunity to focus on something productive… and saved me many times from giving up in despair.

Example: every three hour session in divorce mediation. Yeah… they were all terrible. Conflict is an ongoing lifelong lesson for me… and yet every time I survived (although emotionally bruised and bleeding), I felt more confident about my own assertiveness and inner resources.

Self-doubt is yet another gremlin for me. Can anyone relate?! 🙂 But for this reason, I have Paulo Coelho’s quote taped to my bathroom wall:

“Lord, protect our doubts, because Doubt is a way of praying. It is Doubt that makes us grow because it forces us to look fearlessly at the many answers that exist to one question.”

I have a friend who thinks that this is just a coping mechanism… probably much like invisible friends.

Practical Mommy is Ria Sharon. Click the links for Practical Mommy’s recommendations for travel car seats, affordable and fun diaper bags (skip hop bag), and the best-selling crib brand, Da Vinci Crib.


  1. “What is the gift here?”

    Love it. I need to keep that one readily available.

  2. Zen Mommy says:

    as ever, inspiring. i’m looking at this very thing in my own life… how “if you think about it, you can derive value from any experience..”

    i like to say, we are not the circumstances of our lives. we are life.” i just might add ” we can learn from them, each and every one, esp the tough ones” ;p

  3. In Not So Big Life (p. 193), Susanka writes about Shock and Awe… that it’s tragedies big and small that actually allows us to separate from the things that we think define and contain us and creates the feeling of “cosmic consciousness.” It’s the wake-up calls… the ones we resent MIGHTILY when they are happening because they come with much pain and suffering… those are actually the biggest gifts!

    Right, snuffy?! 🙂

  4. Ria,

    Great post. I always think about how, as parents, we ultimately become the child’s inner voice – the tape that runs in their head. This tape is played when they have victories and disappointments:

    “That’s ok, you did your best. Let’s try again”


    “You are a loser”

    It’s obvious that if we use these words with our child, they will eventually become the tape they play in their heads. But what’s not so obvious is the messaging that’s created by our actions (which always speak louder than words). If we lose our job, for example, do we give up and spend hours watching daytime TV? Or do we hunker down and fight with a sense of exhilaration?


  5. You are so right, John! We address this issue so much as parents… as grown adults we have our own inner tapes that are a product of well-meaning criticism/habit energy from our own childhoods. I’m convinced this is where the “BAD MOTHER” syndrome begins. I’m sure FATHERS have their own version.