Psychology Today October 2012 cover

Babies are our greatest prizes and our greatest teachers. This year, the lessons I’ve learned and relearned come from my second child, Mileva. When she was born, I thought I knew everything about parenting. I quickly realized that in key ways I know nothing. Amazingly, I’d failed to project that my daughter would not be a female clone of my son, that her challenges and triumphs would be wholly her own. I got what everyone gets: the antithesis of a clone—a human being who is sui generis.

Had I listened to my colleagues here at PT, this might not have been a shock. Hara Estroff Marano has always warned never to compare your children to each other on any dimension—or to anyone else, for that matter: “They are busy making, and often struggling with, their own comparisons,” she states. “As adults, they will thank you.” Ed Levine says something similar: “Try to listen to and see loved ones as though you are meeting them for the first time, so you can appreciate them with fresh eyes.”

I’m listening now. For our October issue, we amassed "Lessons for Living" that are critical to well-being but often fly under the radar amidst the self-serving biases we bring to everyday life. Tellingly, the top five all pertain to how we love and relate to others. At the issue's close it seemed only logical to go a step further and get each editor to go on the record with a few words. (In truth, each of the lessons you'll read about originated from the hands—and lives—of these self-same editors). “Divorce does not mean failure,” says Lybi Ma. “My ex and I had two kids and 17 lucky years together, and then we had that many more even better years out of marriage.” 

The most important insights are often the most hard-won. In fact, Lauren Friedman counsels that we shouldn’t be afraid to ignore outside input when it contradicts our gut instincts, especially since we’re the ones who bear the consequences.

When it comes to grappling with challenges, PT’s hive mind is of the “less is more” persuasion. Jane Nussbaum says, “Just listen: People want validation, not advice.” Equally, we cerebral stalwarts seem to think there’s no torment that cannot be solved by simply reframing the problem.

There is one person who brings a different focus to this office straw poll, more focused on doing than on cogitating. Jo Colman’s advice for life:

“Just show up.”

Note: A version of this post is published as the Editor's Note in the October 2012 issue. 

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