BBETTERDAILY: Belief/ A Success Story- The Wright Brothers

Wilbur and Orville Wright, pioneers in aviation, were first to fly an airplane. After almost a thousand failed attempts, the Wright Brothers finally achieved what seemed to be impossible. On Thursday, December 17, 1903 Orville flew the Wright Flyer a distance of 37 meters (120 feet) staying aloft for 12 seconds. Later that same day Wilbur flew about 260 meters (852 feet) in a flight lasting 59 seconds.

According to the historical account of Airborne Connections , as boys, Wilbur and Orville loved playing with anything mechanical and investigating how it worked. As well as being interested in mechanical equipment, the boys tried their hand at various business ventures, the most successful of which included making and selling kites, along with a local printing enterprise. Wilbur and Orville also opened a shop designing, manufacturing and selling bicycles.

Wilbur and Orville’s interest in flying had begun when their father had given them a helicopter -like toy, and had continued through years of making, flying and selling kites. However, in 1899, they decided seriously to study aeronautics. Although they were classmates with noted black poet Paul Laurence Dunbar, neither of them officially completed high school, but they were certainly educated and scientific in their approach. Extensive personal study made them experts on the existing information relating to aeronautics, as they were relentless in pursuing their belief that man could fly.

“We were lucky enough to grow up in an environment where there was always much encouragement to children to pursue intellectual interests; to investigate whatever aroused curiosity.” Orville Wright

The first step towards powered flight was to construct a glider which would lift a man’s weight and which could be maneuvered in flights. Although the glider which Wilbur and Orville built in 1900 successfully supported a man’s weight, it was difficult to control. Several years earlier Wilbur recognized that the Creator’s ‘flying machine’ – the bird – had excellent maneuverability. By spending many hours with binoculars studying birds in the wilderness near Dayton, Wilbur found that birds maneuver by changing the shape of their wings. This led the Wright brothers to design a system of pulleys and cables to change the shape of the glider’s wings in a similar way.

For the next four years, the Wright brothers spent most of their time experimenting at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, a place with ideal wind conditions for flight during summer and early autumn. After extensive study and planning in Dayton, the brothers were now ready for the final step – the addition of a lightweight engine which they designed and built themselves. They also built the propellers themselves, designing them according to their own data on air pressure.


Mantras are not about control. If anything, they are about recognizing and accepting how much we do not control. We cannot control our thoughts or our children (and certainly not our spouses!). What we can control is our awareness and our responses.

Perhaps it’s because the word mantra, with its associations with meditation and chanting, makes us think of hypnosis or mind control, a la The Manchurian Candidate. But mantras are simply tools, the navigational instruments we use to sail upon the stormy seas of living, working, and parenting.

Mantra = a formula, word, incantation or prayer, often repeated as an object of concentration; a truism

In Sanskrit, the word “mantra” literally means “instrument of thought,” derived from manyate (“to think”).

As tools, mantras can no more control our thoughts or our children than our iPhones can control the person with whom we are speaking. But they can facilitate communication and understanding. And they certainly make our lives easier.

I understand the desire to have mantras for particular purposes — for calming down or dealing with angry children. So now that we’ve got the definition and purpose of mantras under control, I’ve created an organized, left-brain friendly list of my favorite mantras for a variety of life situations.

Mantras for Dealing with Anger
“Let it go.”
There’s a reason we all love the song. Letting go is powerful. How much anger and resentment do we hang on to even though it doesn’t serve us or help us? This isn’t resignation — if there’s something bothering you that can be fixed, then fix it. If not, release the anger.

“Within me is a peacefulness that cannot be disturbed.”
This is one of my favorite mantras from Bethany Casarjian and Diane Dillon’sMommy Mantras. The deep calm and stillness we experience in meditation is always within us. Breathe.

Mantras for Dealing with Stress or Anxiety
“Breathing in I calm my body, breathing out I smile.”
This is my favorite Thich Nhat Hanh meditation. He describes it as feeling like he’s drinking a refreshing glass of lemonade on a summer day. Even one deep breath helps us relax. Putting a smile on your face — not a “say cheese!” smile, but a subtle Buddha smile — can dramatically improve your mood.

“It is what it is.”
Many times, the source of our stress is something outside of our control — perhaps another snow-day schedule disruption, or the behavior of another person. Think of this one as part of the serenity prayer, accepting the things we cannot change.

Mantras to Cultivate Patience
If just one deep breath felt good before, try three!

“This too shall pass,” and “I can stand this.”
The crying will stop. The annoying coworker will eventually go away. Children will get potty-trained. Casarjian and Dillon write, “If you believe you can stand it, you can.”

Mantra for Dealing with Frustration with Others
This greeting, and the traditional end for yoga classes, means, “The light (or divinity) in me honors the light (or divinity) in you.” When I am getting frustrated with another person, I repeat this to myself. I remember we are all stardust and light, even this person who is driving me crazy. The Buddha taught that unkindness is due to ignorance of our true nature, of how we are all connected. This isn’t about feeling superior to the other person, but acknowledging that they likely need our compassion far more than they deserve our condescension or condemnation.

Mantras for Parents
“Surrender to the goat.”
I love this one from Mommy Mantras. It comes from a new mother who needed to get out of the house each day, so she would take her 10-month-old to the zoo. The baby loved feeding and watching the goat every time, for what felt like hours. The mom didn’t think she could take much more.

We all have the goats we need to surrender to — another viewing of Frozen, another tower of blocks to build only to watch it topple over, another reading of Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. We tire of monotony, but our children thrive on repetition and routine. “Surrender to the goat” reminds us to embrace the present moment as if it contained exactly what we had chosen. Casarjian and Dillon counsel, “The more we accept the mundane, the less aversive it becomes. Sometimes it even becomes joyful.”

You can find more of my mindful parenting mantras here.

And though this probably goes without saying, I have NO mantras for controlling your wife.


BBETTERDAILY: A Success Story- Dr. Seuss

Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, had his first book rejected by 27 different publishers. He didn’t let that deter him and went on to become a legendary children’s author known around the world for classics like “The Cat in the Hat” and “Green Eggs and Ham.” His books have sold over 600 million copies!