Student News

Words to Live By: Focus on Improving Yourself

Mary Ellen Friends – May 23, 2014

“Accept disgrace willingly.
Accept misfortune as the human condition.”
What do you mean by “Accept disgrace willingly”?
Accept being unimportant.
Do not be concerned with loss and gain.
This is called “accepting disgrace willingly.”
–Laozi (6th century B.C.)

In this excerpt from The Daodejing (Tao Te Ching) by the Daoist scholar Laozi, he teaches his student to accept disgrace willingly. Laozi is teaching his student that he has to realize that there will be times in his life when things will not go his way. This lesson is applicable to everyone because we should all learn to accept misfortune and not become too obsessed with trying to control situations. This excerpt is extremely relevant to most academic situations, especially at Deerfield Academy. Students at Deerfield tend to strive to be “perfect” students, meaning they do not like to accept that they will make mistakes. This quote serves as a reminder to us that it is inevitable that we will make mistakes, or things will not happen the way we wanted them to. Accepting our imperfections will help us learn from our mistakes.

The line “accept being unimportant” is also extremely relatable to life at Deerfield Academy. For example, on a sports team, it is easy to worry about whether or not you are considered the “best player” on the team. It is completely understandable that you want to feel like you are contributing to the team, but that does not mean you will always be praised or considered the most valuable player. There are times when you might have a great game, but no one is there to acknowledge your success. You have to learn to accept being unimportant and realize that you will not always be singled out for being significant. By not spending your time and energy focusing on whether you are superior to others you can focus on improving yourself.

–Lizzie Klink ’16