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My Father's Lessons on LIfe and Living

Updated on December 10, 2010

Father’s Day is coming up and I was trying to think of how to explain all that my father has taught me about life and living.  So many times, as an indignant and idealist child, I would yell at him, “That’s not fair!”  He always replied the same way to this accusation.  “Get used to it, life is not fair.” 

He did not mean this in a cruel or callous way.  He meant to tell me that just because I perceived something as being fair, did not mean that events would happen that way.  He wanted me to learn that I would have to accept unfairness happens.  Acceptance that life is not fair has helped me survive.

The Paradoxical Commandments
by Dr. Kent M. Keith

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.

People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.

Even as he taught me that unfairness happens, he also taught me to live in a way that did not contribute to the unfairness. He did not write the above tenets, but he taught me them every day of my life. Life is not fair, but that does not mean we do not need to be. He taught me integrity in the face of adversity. He taught me to be true to myself and take pride in who I am. He gave me the tools I needed to remain steadfast in my convictions. He taught me that criticism is constructive and an open mind is essential to learning.

The knowledge of God’s love for me was my father’s finest gift to me. This knowledge is the strength that allows me to remain faithful to who I am. It is the solid ground that keeps me from drowning in the world. The love of my father taught me the love of God. In this I am truly blessed as a child.

He also taught me how to have fun and to laugh. When we were kids, he was always building something for us. We had a giant swing set, complete with sandbox and sundeck that he built for us. I can remember one winter it snowed and we were jumping off the sundeck into the drifts. One winter he built us an ice skating rink. One day when the ice had started to melt we discovered how much fun it was to skate and jump from one ice-island to another.

We fished; I cannot remember a time that I didn’t know how to fish. I was fishing before I was in kindergarten. Once I landed a 36” pike! I remember running through the forest with it, going home to show my father. Life seemed so simple when I was young.

After all these years, I can say I like who I am.  Many people do not understand why I do much of what I do.  I am naïve, crazy, and just plain stupid.  My life is often a paradox.  I can see that certain actions will not help me be more successful financially, but I keep on course.  Friends will tell me that someone’s treatment of me was not fair.  They don’t understand why I don’t get back at others.  They don’t know that I am remembering a lesson taught to me by a great man.  Life is not fair.

Here are some of the other lessons he taught me:

"Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking." (Marcus Aurelius Antonius)

"Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be." (Abraham Lincoln)

"The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, the education, the money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company... a church... a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past... we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you... we are in charge of our Attitudes." (Charles R. Swindoll)

"Life is full of beauty. Notice it. Notice the bumble bee, the small child, and the smiling faces. Smell the rain, and feel the wind. Live your life to the fullest potential, and fight for your dreams." (Ashley Smith)

Happy Father’s Day and Thank You Dad!


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    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 

      9 years ago from North Carolina

      Very cool photos/pics to add with the wonderful "lesson" Great hub!

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 

      9 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Kari, thank you for sharing about your dad. I included your hub in my Father's Day Special hope you don't mind. :) Blessings to you!

    • k@ri profile imageAUTHOR

      Kari Poulsen 

      10 years ago from Ohio

      Rachel, I'm glad it was a happy remembering...seems he was a wonderful person! I am so sorry to hear your father is gone...I dread that day. Thank you for commenting!

    • rachelsheart profile image


      10 years ago

      I loved that! I lost my father whn he was 54 I missed him more after reading this hub. But it was a happy missing of him. Rachel

    • k@ri profile imageAUTHOR

      Kari Poulsen 

      10 years ago from Ohio

      Peggy, Yes, he did love this tribute, but he is every bit as great and more! I'm sorry to hear about your father, I know some day I will say the same, but I do not want to imagine it. I have been thinking about moving closer to them so I can hug him a little more often, :D it is very hard to be far from him and my mom!

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      10 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Absolutely beautiful Kari,

      Reading about your wonderful Dad makes me miss mine who died a long time ago. Mine was wonderful as well. Hug yours a little more often and talk to him often while you still have him. Bet he loved this tribute from you. Nicely done!

    • k@ri profile imageAUTHOR

      Kari Poulsen 

      10 years ago from Ohio

      lxxy, Thanks for reading! He taught me many things, some of which I am still trying to learn. :D

    • lxxy profile image


      10 years ago from Beneath, Between, Beyond

      Truly beautiful k@ri--thank you for sharing with us your father's wisdom. =)

    • k@ri profile imageAUTHOR

      Kari Poulsen 

      10 years ago from Ohio

      James, I could never agree with the thought that children do not need their fathers! As you can tell my father has had a wonderful influence on my life. I would not be who I am today without him.

      l1blonde, Thank you! He is a wonderful man!

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      What a beautiful tribute to your Father.

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 

      10 years ago from Chicago

      This is a moving tribute to your Father.  The photographs were choice as well. 

      It makes me think of how many fathers I know who have been alienated from their children; and about the general attitude I hear expressed in certain quarters that fathers are not necessary in the lives of children.  I think your paean to your father strikes a beautiful counterbalance to, and largely disproves that, ideology.  Thank you so much for your words.  It would be a dream of a father to have his daughter describe him so.

      5 Stars

    • k@ri profile imageAUTHOR

      Kari Poulsen 

      10 years ago from Ohio

      AE, Thank you very, very much. Coming from you really means a lot to me!! I'm glad you liked it.

    • AEvans profile image


      10 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

      So right we cannot change the inevitable , what a wonderful tribute to your father and look how much he gave you? You are so well rounded and this was a very touching hub.:)

    • k@ri profile imageAUTHOR

      Kari Poulsen 

      10 years ago from Ohio

      SEM Pro, Thanks, I hope he likes it!

    • SEM Pro profile image

      SEM Pro 

      10 years ago from North America

      An incredible tribute k@ri! Beautifully done and evokes honor and respect in us all. Thank you :)

    • k@ri profile imageAUTHOR

      Kari Poulsen 

      10 years ago from Ohio

      Feline Prophet, Actions are more important than words. You can say anything, but you can only act how you are. Your father sounds like he must be quite a guy!

    • profile image

      Feline Prophet 

      10 years ago

      Lovely! My father didn't speak much but just watching him go through life taught me a lot. 'What makes a dad' describes him so well! :)

    • k@ri profile imageAUTHOR

      Kari Poulsen 

      10 years ago from Ohio

      Cris, Yes, he taught me well and is a man I am very proud of!

      Birte, Thank you very much! I try to learn everyday.

    • BirteEdwards profile image


      10 years ago

      I am not sure I can add anything to what has already been said, but this is not just an outstanding hub.

      You are describing two outstanding people, your father and yourself, and a wonderful relationship between you. The deep understanding and insights you have of your father and yourself is just what life and learning from life is all about.

      That's what I am trying to bring across in my blog, LessonofLifeCoaching.

    • Cris A profile image

      Cris A 

      10 years ago from Manila, Philippines

      Your dad has certainly taught you well. Great tribute, this should make him proud :D

    • k@ri profile imageAUTHOR

      Kari Poulsen 

      10 years ago from Ohio

      R Burow, I always hope he is as proud of me...I am pretty sure he is, but you know fathers...they are proud even if there is no reason!

    • R Burow profile image

      R Burow 

      10 years ago from Florida, United States

      Very nice Kari. I am sure he is as proud of you, as you are of him.

    • k@ri profile imageAUTHOR

      Kari Poulsen 

      10 years ago from Ohio

      Thank you tony! I need all the help I can get! I know these lessons, I just can't believe them...remind me occasionally, life is not fair?

    • tony0724 profile image


      10 years ago from san diego calif

      Well I,m here to help , best to you my friend !

    • k@ri profile imageAUTHOR

      Kari Poulsen 

      10 years ago from Ohio

      tony, I really appreciate it! I need constant reinforcement also! Only now I have to supply my own. (Ouch) You would think I would know by now, LOL!

      (note to self: life is not fair) I'll get it one of these days. :D

    • tony0724 profile image


      10 years ago from san diego calif

      k@ri nicely done ! There are definitely a lot of good rules to live by that I need to be reminded of constantly !

    • k@ri profile imageAUTHOR

      Kari Poulsen 

      10 years ago from Ohio

      Hawkesdream, He sounds like a very smart man! That is some great advice. I try to do that at all times. :D

    • Hawkesdream profile image


      10 years ago from Cornwall

      My dad, always used to tell me, 'treat others the way you would like to be treated and you won't be far wrong'

    • k@ri profile imageAUTHOR

      Kari Poulsen 

      10 years ago from Ohio

      Teresa, He is even more wonderful than I can put into words!

      Lady E, That is a beautiful story. Your father must be a great man, I can understand why you love him to bits!

      jay, Thanks! To me attitude is everything. It is the only thing we really control in life. :D

    • jayb23 profile image


      10 years ago from India

      What a fantastic Hub. it was simply awesome. Liked the attitude part. Keep it up

    • Lady_E profile image


      10 years ago from London, UK

      Beautiful Hub - really like the pictures. I'll share a quick story with you. I travel every year to see my parents in Africa. One day my Dad and I were queuing at the bank there and he told me that a week ago the cashier gave him more money than he requested by cheque over the counter. He said he gave the over-paid money back to the cashier. I said "why on earth didn't you keep it Dad". (i was young at the time, excuse my meaness) My dad's response was touching - He said, he didn't want anyone to cheat his children in life. I thought to myself, wow, that's deep. The law of Karma and all that....... Love him to bits.

    • Teresa McGurk profile image


      10 years ago from The Other Bangor

      What a great dad --and a thoughtful tribute.


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