May 18, 2011

Fun with a Purpose

I was lucky enough to have a subscription to Highlights when I was a kid. That magazine had it all: stories, hidden pictures, crafts. And who could forget the Goofus and Gallant cartoon, where that zany band of brothers showed us how to navigate family life and the social world at large with their contrasting good and bad behaviour? Those were the days, my friends.

I loved that magazine so much, that I kept most of the issues. I came across my collection recently and as I was scaling it down, took the chance to have a trip down memory lane, combing through the well-read pages.

The letters to the editor were always a favourite of mine and looking back now, I can see that it was like a child’s version of Ann Landers. A random sampling of back issues from the early 90s provides advice on such pressing issues as family feuds, moving away from friends, and how to deal with being too popular.

But I digress. You’re probably wondering what this all has to do with the focus of my blog here, which is all about life purpose. Well, as I was reading through the letters, I came across a couple that offered some advice that seems just as relevant now as it likely was to Danny T. and Marc B. all those years ago.

So here they are. Some illuminating thoughts, straight from the pages of Highlights magazine:

Career Choices

When I grow up, I want to be a writer, basketball player, and an environmentalist. My parents say I should be a lawyer or a doctor. I've tried to convince them I don't want to. What should I do?
- Danny T., Massachusetts

You still have a lot of time before you must choose a career. And you can always change careers if you get tired of one field.

When you enter high school [college/university/post-grad/life*] guidance counsellors will help you look at your interests and skills and explore career options.

Your parents may change their minds about wanting you to be a doctor or lawyer, or you may change your mind about your goals. Until then, read about many different careers. This will prepare you for whatever you do.

Making Decisions

Sometimes I have to make decisions. Why is it so hard?
-Marc B., Michigan

In making decisions, we have to sort out what we really want and imagine the possible results of our choices, both now and in the future. You may be unsure about what you really want, worry you'll regret your choice, or think you can't change your mind later.

It may help to list all the pros and cons for each possible decision. Include how you feel about each choice. Give yourself time to think things through. And talk about options with people you trust and respect.

Surprisingly insightful advice from a kid’s magazine. But Highlights wasn’t just any magazine. It was carefully crafted to be equally fun and educational, and that’s why it's beloved by parents and children alike.

I’m definitely glad I kept my favourite issues. And I can't help but wonder what Danny T. decided to be, after all.

*Aside added by me.

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