In honor of Fred Rogers’ birth, March 20 is Be My Neighbor Day.
Generations of children – anyone growing up in the 70s, 80s or 90s – likely watched the public television children’s show Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood or was influenced by Fred Rogers work. Through his soft-spoken words, delightful songs and whimsical puppets, he imparted countless life lessons.
Here’s my simple roundup of 10 things we can all learn from Mister Rogers, regardless of our age.
1. We should feel all the feelings.
Our feelings – happiness, sadness, anger and frustration – are all part of who we are. By acknowledging our feelings, it’s easier “…to make constructive choices about what to do with those feelings.” Be honest with yourself and how you feel about a situation or problem. Mister Rogers also said, “It’s the very wrestling with our problems that can be the impetus for our growth.”
2. We should surround ourselves with people who appreciate us just as we are.
Mister Rogers’ uplifting song lyrics said it so simply, “It’s not the things you wear. It’s not the way you do your hair. But it’s you I like, the way you are right now, the way down deep inside you […] I hope you’ll remember even when you’re feeling blue that it’s you I like…”
3. We should not let any person demean us or those around us.
Part of the reason Fred Rogers chose to get into television was to change what was on the air for the greater good. He said, “I saw people throwing pies in each other’s faces, and that’s such demeaning behavior. And if there’s anything that bothers me, it’s one person demeaning another.”
4. We find success through kindness.
It’s a simple philosophy for life that Fred Rogers shared with all of us. He believed, “There are three ways to ultimate success: The first way is to be kind. The second way is to be kind. The third way is to be kind.”
5. We find success by doing what we love.
Find the work that you love, in a place that brings you joy, and then do that work to the best of your abilities. In a commencement address, Mister Rogers once said, “The thing I remember best about the truly successful people I’ve met is their obvious delight in what they do. Such honest, enthusiastic living of their lives.”
6. We possess such power with imagination.
Have you ever grown anything in the garden of your mind? Enjoy this brilliant Mister Rogers remix of “Garden of Your Mind” – video courtesy of PBS Digital Studios.
7. We can always find help.
Mister Rogers firmly believed that we should reach out to others when we needed help. He reassured us that we were not alone and there was someone there to talk to about our feelings. He once shared, “When I was a boy and would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”
8. We are all a product of those who have loved us.
The nurturing encouragement and support of those around us shapes our view of the world and our view of ourselves. Those people “loved us into being.” As Fred Rogers said, “Knowing that we can be loved exactly as we are gives us all the best opportunity for growing into the healthiest of people.”
9. We all may have regrets, but you just have to move forward.
Even Fred Rogers had regrets. When talking about his show, he said, “I awoke one morning around 1981 and was struct with the sudden realization that it had been a terrible idea to name the mailman ‘Mr. McFeely.’ By then, though, it was far too late. Far too late.”
10. We should make the most of the present.
In Fred’s own way, he espoused Carpe Diem. From the familiar theme song of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” come these lyrics – “…Let’s make the most of this beautiful day…”
The legacy of Fred Rogers lives on for another generation to enjoy with the PBS show Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood which is geared towards preschoolers. Just as Fred Rogers did, the new animated cast of Daniel Tiger in his land of make believe are teaching young children life lessons through catchy tunes and catch phrases. The engaging episodes teach great early lessons for toddlers about safety, emotions, sharing and more. Just watch a few episodes and before long you and your tots will be able to sing along – “stop and listen to stay safe,” “grown ups come back,” “try new foods ‘cause they might taste good,” and “keep trying, you’ll get better.”