Maybe your dad was more of a goofy guy, maybe he was the strict, stern type or maybe he fell somewhere in between. Either way, if you’re lucky, chances are he taught you a lesson or two about what it means to live a happy, healthy life. We celebrate dads, on Father’s Day and all year, because they selflessly offer unlimited love, kind generosity and timeless wisdom throughout our lives.
When it comes to living a truly healthy and happy life, dads from all different backgrounds have nearly endless amounts of intelligent insight to share, and these are just a few of the “secrets” some truly special fathers have bestowed upon their children over the years.
“One of the things my father taught me when I was a teenager was to take breaks when you're getting stressed or overworked,” says Tom Casano, CEO and founder of Life Coach Spotter. “I remember one time, we were building a deck for our neighbor. It was the middle of a hot August afternoon, and we had to finish the deck for a party the next day. As we worked harder and harder together, he could see the frustration and stress on my face growing. He took my hammer and put it down, and pulled me aside. As we sat in the shade and drank ice water, he told me, ‘Remember son, it's more important to be happy than to accomplish anything today.’ Later that night, after we had finished for the day, I realized what he had meant—life is short and we only live once. It's better that we are happy in the here and now, than to get too stressed out over the little things.”
"As a boy, I thought my father was a bit lazy," explains Dr. Robert S. Rosenberg, medical director of the Sleep Disorders Center of Prescott Valley, Arizona and sleep medicine consultant for Mountain Heart Health Services in Flagstaff, Arizona. “But, back then we were in the dark ages when it came to understanding the value of naps.” Now, Rosenberg says, there’s a significant body of research that not only emphasizes the importance of sleep for good health, but also that naps in particular can provide several benefits.
“Numerous recent medical studies have shown that a well-timed nap can increase memory retention as well as athletic performance,” Rosenberg said. “A 10- to 20-minute nap in someone who slept a normal seven to eight hours the night before can increase alertness for four hours. The same nap in someone who partied and slept far less than they should have can increase alertness for two hours.” The take-home message, according to Rosenberg, “Besides that my father was a smart napper? First, instead of reaching for the Starbucks, maybe a nap like my father did would be better.”
This lesson applies not only to health and fitness goals, but of course, life in general, too. When we surveyed our readers about what they’ve learned from their dads Tumblr user Lifting Till Fit said, “That not trying is worse than failing, and that everyone has excuses. It’s up to you to be better than the excuses.”
Whether applied to your gym workouts, a weight loss goals or some other endeavor in life, supportive dads remind us that results don’t come without a little bit of sweat. “I was always the kind of student who wanted to get straight As and cried when a B+ showed up on my report, so I never needed any intervention when it came to school,” writes Huffington Post reporter Katie Hurley. “But my dad noticed my hard work. He frequently complimented my writing and my focus and reminded me that my work ethic would help me reach my goals. All of them. As it turns out, he was right.”
“Whether you’re a son or a daughter, chances are you’ve learned on some level how women should be treated,” says April Masini, author of four relationship advice books and the advice column, Ask April. “Even without being sat down and schooled, fathers model relationship behavior way before a child is in a relationship. So if you’re happy with your boyfriend, girlfriend or spouse—thank your dad. He may seem mystified by your appreciation, but you’ll know he has a hand in your happiness in love.”
“Dad played catch and pickle with us in the backyard; he took us on long, energetic walks in the neighborhood. There was bowling; he’d square-dance with me; he’d take me horseback riding,” writes lifestyle blogger Alison Wiley. “Dad loved to be in motion. When he walked into a room his body language was dynamic, decisive. Dad taught me to be active, lifelong, and I am. This life-lesson has brought me great health and joy.”
Everyone makes mistakes. Whether you slipped up on your diet or missed a few workouts, the important thing is that you don't let these setbacks hold you down or discourage you, but rather learn from them. Intent Blog writer Lauren Wessinger quotes a letter from her dad: “Disappointments, failures, weakness, making wrong decisions and mistakes are all part of life. Some of the most valuable life lessons come from these times.”
Any new endeavor, even something as simple as joining the gym, can be intimidating, but through life we learn that fearing failure definitely does not promote progress. “My dad always told me the key to success is not being afraid to fail,” Twitter user @DanielleCNN told SELF Magazine. “He was right!”
Personally, I can remember my own father uttering this phrase once or twice before, and no doubt, it’s an age old secret for living a truly happy life. “Always do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life,” Twitter user @ErrandsEtcetera said of the lesson she learned from her father in SELF Magazine.
Another lesson that comes straight from my own father, I remember a time when I was helping him install shelves in my newly decorated childhood bedroom. A certain piece wasn’t working correctly and I could tell my dad was getting frustrated, but he put down the tools, looked at me and said, “Don’t ever half-ass anything.” Then, he went back to square one and started the project from the beginning to make sure the shelves were installed safely and correctly.
Let’s be honest, if anyone in the family was going to let us sneak dessert in before dinner, it was most likely dad. Think back to a time when you shared a treat with your dad or he let you eat something you “weren’t supposed to,” you probably felt pure joy in that moment. These types of memories can help remind us that we shouldn’t feel guilty about indulging in occasional treats.