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Letter from Publisher

A few weeks ago, as my son, Yonatan, and I were driving to his school to register him for sixth grade, he let out a big sigh and said, “I bet my nemesis will be there.”

Yonatan’s nemesis is a boy in his grade who used to be a friend, but over the past year, as my son describes it, has become so mean as to border on bullying. Many times, Yonatan has expressed frustration at having to regularly deal with this difficult kid who makes him feel bad. Making matters worse, the two boys seem to get placed together in every class and group project. “He’s always around, no matter what I’m doing or where I am. I have the worst luck,” my 11-year-old complained.

As a parent, it’s hard to allow your child to experience any form of emotional pain. While my initial instinct was to sugarcoat the situation to make him feel better, it occurred to me, as a parent still learning the ropes, that this was a perfect opportunity to encourage a life lesson in resiliency, finding the good in every experience life throws at us, and choosing happiness and empowerment over victimization.

So I asked my son if he could think of any benefit to this situation. Upon his resounding, “No!” I asked if he had grown or changed in any way as a result of this challenging experience. He thought for a moment, and then replied, “I used to be sensitive, and would cry if a kid or teacher said something a bit hurtful to me; but now I feel strong and not as sensitive. I believe I can handle anything from anyone.”

I smiled and said, “Now do you see why life has put this boy constantly in your way? Do you see the benefit? You are so lucky to know him.”

Yonatan laughed and agreed that he is a much stronger person because of it. Then we talked about how important it is to learn the skills needed to deal with difficult people because life can be full of them, whether at school now or at work later in life. We discussed the role of gratitude; being grateful for all our life experiences and all the people we encounter along the way. I also explained to him the importance of having compassion for people whom we perceive to be challenging. More often than not, their behavior towards us is not personal; rather, it is often a manifestation of their own struggles and challenges.

I appreciate the wisdom reflected in Linda Joy’s article, “Choose Happiness: Four Tips to Flip the Joy Switch.” It’s taken me many years to learn that the victory of happiness is a choice, just as victimization is a choice. I am finally relishing the freedom found in discerning inherent blessings.

As a mother, I can’t always be present to help my child navigate life experiences. My hope is that I am able to share with him some hard-won words of wisdom that will help ease his way forward.

In gratitude and joy,

Gabriella Buchnik, Publisher

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