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Parenting

tea and coffee
Written by Chris Jones

I’m always trying to improve my life. Recently, I quit drinking coffee. I felt that between the added daily anxiety that 540 milligrams of caffeine was giving me (that’s just two tall Starbucks Blonde Roasts!) and the dependence I felt on caffeine in the morning to start and get over the mid-afternoon slump, it was time for a change. I never want anything to master me. As a result, I feel better. I’m more relaxed, more focused, I don’t crash, and I don’t feel anxiety. My morning now begins with a 12 ounce cup of Earl Gray (40 milligrams of caffeine) or mint tea, and a brisk 1 to 2 mile walk.

Being calm has made me a better parent and a better husband. I’m responding more out of love and peace lately than I am out of frustration and fatigue. I’m a lot more attentive and happier now that I am more present for my family. It’s the smallest changes that make the biggest impact sometimes.

In his autobiography, Benjamin Franklin tried to grasp moral perfection as a way to live a better and higher quality of life. In order to accomplish his goal, Franklin listed 13 virtues:

  • Temperance
  • Silence
  • Order
  • Resolution
  • Frugality
  • Industry
  • Sincerity
  • Justice
  • Moderation
  • Cleanliness
  • Tranquility
  • Chastity
  • Humility

Each week he focused on a virtue. While he didn’t become perfect after 13 weeks, he saw drastic improvement in his life. He concluded, "Tho’ I never arrived at the perfection I had been so ambitious of obtaining, but fell far short of it, yet I was, by the endeavour, a better and a happier man than I otherwise should have been if I had not attempted it."

How about you? What are some small changes that you need to make in order to feel better inside and have that small goodness spills into other areas of your life? Are there virtues you can pursue that will make you a better mother or father, husband or wife? Change is invigorating. The old adage that “discipline begets discipline” is true. As one area improves, you crave it across all areas. Give it a go. Make a change and watch the quality of your life and relationships blossom this spring.

Chris Jones is the editor of Fredericksburg Parent & Family magazine. He’s always looking for ways to be better each day.

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