In previous Tips I have talked about my years as a school principal. I was twenty-four years old when I accepted that assignment and had only been teaching for two years prior to that time. I was as green as grass! I suppose someone saw in me the desire to be a leader so they “offered” me in that position. Anyway, it was an incredible learning experience and probably caused me to grow-up more than anything else in my life, other than having children of my own.
I had teachers on my staff who were old enough to be my parents. I had one teacher, Ruby Davenport, who was old enough to be my grandmother. I look back on all of this with such irony now because I can see that I actually thought that I was supposed to be helping them. The truth of the matter is, they were helping me be a better school principal, and Ruby was probably raising me as her child, as well!
One day I was talking to Ruby about some of the behavior challenges we had at our school. She was seventy years old at the time and a well-worn trooper. She had a lot of experience under her belt. Anyway, as we were discussing different students that day she casually said, “A busy child is seldom a behavior problem!” She went on to explain to me that most children who misbehave or act up in school are simply doing so because they are bored. They need to be challenged or they need to be kept busy. She explained that this was more difficult for the teacher because it put additional pressure on them to do better planning to stay ahead of those who were causing behavioral problems. She said that we could eliminate most of our issues if we would simply stay one step ahead of our students by being more active and busy with our curriculum and classroom activities. Again, I was only twenty-four years old at the time, but that left a lasting impression on me. From that time forward, I taught our teachers to keep their students active and busy, and sure enough, we had fewer behavior problems. I can honestly say that with a small exception, most of our behavior problems vanished. Ruby was right; a busy child is seldom a behavior problem.
I have lived long enough to see that a busy mind is also a happy mind. When I say “busy” I’m not talking about just running around in circles trying to be busy just for the sake of staying busy. I am talking about being busy in a good sense. Maybe a better word would be “active.” A person who is active and keeps themselves alert, I believe, will be better off than a person who is not active. A person who is active and learning and growing in their own personal life will be happier, healthier and more productive. Again, I am not talking about being active or busy just for the sake of having something to do.
I’m sure we all have heard about people who become inactive and soon bad things begin to happen. In fact, I was checking in at the Delta Airlines baggage area recently at the Atlanta airport and was talking to an individual who had been working with Delta for many, many years. I asked him how much longer before he would able to retire. He looked at me and said, “I’m not sure I want to do that!”
“Why is that?” I said.
He said, “We have found that most of the people here in the baggage department seem to die after they retire. Several of my co-workers have done that. I have come to the conclusion that I don’t really want to retire. I think I want to stay active!”
When he said that, I could not help but think of a report I once heard of concerning government workers. The government has many workers on its payroll; therefore they are able to keep vital statistics on their retirees. I once read that the average government worker only lives about eighteen months after retirement. I think there is something that happens inside of anyone who retires and does not stay active. Their mind begins to speak to their body and it says something like this: “You’re all through! You are finished. You don’t have to go to work any more. You have nothing to do. You can stop now. Everything has ended for you.” I believe their body picks up on that message and pretty soon it cooperates and shuts down – completely. That is called death! I certainly don’t want that to be the case for myself or you.
Again, let me reiterate the fact that I am not talking about being busy just for the sake of being busy. I am talking about being active, fruitful, and profitable in your life. You get up every day with new challenges and new opportunities to help you learn and grow in different areas of your life in which you have interest. Life is too precious and valuable to get to the place that you have nothing to do.
I lived through the “hippie” generation. Many of them said that they observed their parents’ goal was to get to the place where they could work all of their lives in order to retire. Therefore, rather than waiting until they themselves got to retirement age to drop out and have nothing to do, they just did it while they were still young! That logic makes perfect sense if your goal is to do nothing. However, I believe many in that generation found that was not the best way to go. After they got “doing nothing” out of their system, they began to have more of a profitable and productive life. It just makes no sense economically, financially, relationally, socially, spiritually or mentally to have nothing to do. But, when you are busy, active, alert and fruitful, that will lead you to live a life that is profitable and successful. I know that’s the kind of life I want and I am sure that is the kind of life you want, too.
Tip: A busy mind is a happy mind!
Have a great week! God bless you!
Dr. Robert A. Rohm