A Dad’s Lesson: ‘Keep Your Light Bright’

UPDATED: June 16, 2020
PUBLISHED: June 16, 2015
A Dad’s Lesson: ‘Keep Your Light Bright’

My dad had a keen imagination.

When I was little, we would often play a good-night game that became our special ritual. He would come into my room to talk to me and listen to the triumphs and tragedies of my day. As he was leaving, Dad had a way of leaning back against the switch by my door and rubbing against it to “magically” blow out my light, like the birthday candles on a cake.

He would say, “I’m blowing out your light now, and it will be dark for you. In fact, as far as you’re concerned, it will be dark all over the world—because the only world you ever know is the one you see through your own eyes. So remember, Son, keep your light bright. The world is yours to see that way. I love you. Good night.”

I used to lie there in bed after Dad left and try to understand what he meant. It was confusing to think that the whole world was dark when I was asleep and that the only world I would ever know was the one I would see through my own eyes.

What Dad was trying to tell me was that when I went to sleep at night, as far as I was concerned, the world came to a stop. When I woke up in the morning, I could choose to see a fresh new world through my own eyes—if I kept my light bright. In other words, if I woke up happy, the world was happy. If I woke up not feeling well, the world was not as well off.

My dad’s guidance about self-perception and the power in the eye of the beholder was invaluable. What he was trying to teach me with his little light show was this: Everything depends on how you want to look at what happens in life. It doesn’t make any difference what is going on “out there”—what makes a difference is how you take it.

Beauty (or ugliness) is in the eye of the beholder. Abundance (or want) is in the eye of the beholder. Being the best (or being mediocre) depends on the eye of the beholder.

So instead of teaching me that my glass was half-empty, my dad taught me that my glass was more than half-full. He taught me to view life as something that was continually opening and expanding with new opportunities and events to enjoy.

Those good-night rituals with my father taught me that it didn’t make any difference what the other kids said, what the other kids wore, what the other kids did. Their opinion of me wasn’t that important. What was important was the way I handled what they did and said.

And the same is true for both you and me today…. People’s opinions of you aren’t what are important; it’s the way you handle their opinions and actions that makes the difference.

How did your dad impact your life, or the person you’ve grown up to be?

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there! Read some more fatherly advice to celebrate the dad in your life.


Excerpted from Being the Best by Denis Waitley