Like a gardener, we only reap what we sow. Give everyone in your family a flowerpot. Display seed packets for several flowers and ask which flower everyone wants to grow. Place the packets in the pots and suggest storing them in a closet or cupboard while you wait for the flowers to bloom. When your family protests that the flowers won't grow, explain that just as it takes work to grow a seed into a beautiful flower, we need to be ambitious about all of our desires. If you are feeling ambitious, expand the lesson to a family garden!
The Active Ingredient
Like volcanoes, we achieve much more when we are active. Build a model volcano by surrounding a film canister with paper or play dough. Tell your family you are going to make a volcano erupt. Add two spoonfuls of baking soda, one spoonful of liquid soap, and three drops of red food coloring to the canister and tell your family to watch. When nothing happens, tell your family you forgot one important ingredient. Add one ounce of vinegar and watch the volcano erupt. Explain that just as the volcano won't work without the active ingredient, we also need an active ingredient in our lives--ambition!
Show Me The Money
We have to act on what we want. Show your family members a brand-new dollar bill. Place it on a table and ask if they want the money. When they all raise their hands, ask who really wants the money. Continue to ask until someone gets up and takes the money. If no one does, then say you want the money and get up and take it yourself. After someone has the dollar bill, explain that it is not enough to only want something. If we are ambitious, we will also be willing to work to get what we want.
The Baseball Practice
When President Heber J. Grant was nine days old, his father died, leaving Heber's mother to raise him alone. As a result, Heber wasn't very experienced in the things boys like to do. When he joined a baseball club, he was placed on the third-string team with much younger boys because he couldn't swing the bat very hard, run the bases very fast, or throw the ball very far. The other boys would tease Heber so often that he finally swore that he would one day play on the Utah Territory championship baseball team.
Heber shined shoes until he saved enough money to buy a baseball. He spent so many hours throwing the ball at the side of his neighbor's barn that his arm would throb, making it hard for him to sleep. Still, Heber kept practicing; and he finally advanced to the second-string of his baseball club. But he did not stop there. He worked until he was good enough to join another baseball club. Eventually, Heber made the team that won the championship--not only in Utah Territory, but also in Wyoming, Colorado, and California.
Heber had the desire to be a great baseball player, but he also was ambitious enough to work hard until he achieved his desire. Later in life, he applied the same ambitious practice to improving his handwriting and singing until he became known for having beautiful penmanship and a strong voice.
Being friendly to everyone can seem like hard work, but friendly acts don't always have to be big--small things can make a big difference too! Even something as simple as a friendly smile can brighten a person's day. Someone once said, "A smile costs nothing, but gives much. It enriches those who receive, without making poorer those who give. It takes but a moment, but the memory of it sometimes lasts forever." Use these lessons to teach your family how important friendly acts like smiling are to themselves and the people around them.
Friendly acts are necessary to help us on our way. Have family members stand at the bottom of a staircase while you stand at the top. Ask your family to have someone join you without touching any stairs, walls, or railings. If they can't figure out how, go to the bottom and give someone a piggyback ride to the top. Explain that we cannot make it through life alone, and that we need friends to help us on our way. You can also share a Quaker proverb: "Thee lift me, and I'll lift thee, and we'll ascend together."
A friendly act doesn't hurt; it helps. Give two members of your family a candle each. Light one of the candles and ask your family to watch the flame. Have the person holding the lit candle touch it to the wick of the second candle so that both candles are lit. Ask a family member what happened to the flame when the candles touched. Did it go out? Did it get brighter? Explain that just as a candle flame gets brighter when it lights another candle, a friendly act brightens both your own life and the life you touch.
The Domino Effect
You never know how far a simple friendly act will travel. Set up a row of dominoes. Have a member of your family push the first domino over. Watch how, one by one, all the dominoes fall. Ask someone in your family to explain why all the dominoes fell over when only one was touched. Explain to your family that just like one domino can affect many others, a simple act of friendliness--no matter how small it is--can affect a lot of people.
The Smile That Saved
A person who performs a friendly act often forgets about it as soon as it is carried out, but it can live much longer in the memory of the recipient. A rabbi once told about a man who was the only person from an entire neighborhood to survive the Holocaust. This man and his neighbors were forced to stand in line while they waited to board a train to the Auschwitz death camp. A young German officer looked each prisoner over; when he reached this man, the officer studied him for a while, then ordered him to step out of line. The rest of the group was taken to Auschwitz, but this man remained on the platform.
The Nazi soldier then approached the man and asked if he had lived on a certain street in a certain town. The Jewish man answered that he had. The Nazi then said, "When I was a boy, an orphan, I lived next door to you, and I remember that you were the only one who would greet me on the street with a smile and ask how I was. You--will live."
A friendly act may seem insignificant, but there is no telling how far its effects will travel. To a young orphan boy, a simple exchange between neighbors was the only thing to brighten the days of a lonely childhood; to an old Jewish man, it was the difference between life and death.