Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood was a staple in my Canadian childhood. The valuable life lessons learned while watching Mister Rogers’ are still, if not more, relevant and needed than ever before.
Mister Rogers- What a guy!
I grew up watching Mister Roger’s Neighborhood but as time passed, I moved on. It was slow and predictable- exactly the opposite of everything else on TV. I likely thought I was too grown up, important or busy to watch a “kid’s show.”
Honesty, and compassion are the values on which he built a community, aka the Neighborhood, for everyone. As I step into my role as a parent, friend, neighbor, the simplicity of his message acts as an anchor.
Maybe it’s having kids myself now, and remembering the things I enjoyed when I was younger, that brought me back to this icon. Lately, I’ve been seeing more about him, and each time I see that happy dependable face, it reminds me of the comfort and stability he offered for all those years.
The Original Influencer
So, I picked up the Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood DVDs from the library to (binge)watch. I was immediately brought back to my own playroom when I was young. The words to the songs, Make Believe land, and the calming presence of Mister Rogers himself had me feeling all gooey inside.
His earnestness, joy and mindfulness resonated with me; they comforted me. No rushing, no running, no busying from here to there. I always have a project on the go, places to be, businesses to run, schedules to organize, errands to run, but now I’m reevaluating that.
I think my endless multitasking is adding, rather than subtracting to the chaos and distractions in my life.
And so, where were we? Oh yes, how easy it is to get distracted.
As we watched Mister Rogers, I also watched my daughter. I wondered, would she think this show was as sweet as I do? Would she find it corny or dull? After all, she’s growing up surrounded by YouTube influencers, unlimited subscription services, reality TV and live streaming.
But, you know what? She loved it. Maybe it was a relief to slow down or refreshing to have a character talk to her, rather than at her. To have things explained patiently and respectfully.
Lessons from the 'Hood
Here’s how you can apply Mister Rogers’ life lessons to be the best neighbor and ultimately, person you can be:
Slow down. Taking the time to do a task, and do it right. Be present in every moment and practice patience with yourself and others. (More mindfulness tips here.)
Recognize and accept your feelings. Give them your attention rather than allowing them to overwhelm and frustrate you. Also, give this same respect and attention to the feelings of other’s.
Show the love and acceptance that was so proudly modeled, reminding us that everyone is worthwhile, that everyone has a special role to play in the neighborhood.
Live with integrity to your true self. By letting your light shine bright in the world, by literally being you, you can make the world a better place.
It’s ok if you don’t get it right the first time. Mistakes are learning opportunities and they happen to everyone. So keep trying until you figure it out. Everyone is doing the best they can- yourself included.
Be vulnerable. One thing I noticed often, was how often Mister Rogers showed true vulnerability in his programs. Sometimes, he relates stories from his own childhood, while other times, he embarks on a learning something new. Many times, he didn’t “get it” on the first attempt. Every time, he tried again. (For more on vulnerability, read here.)
Build relationships and treat others with respect. Build strong communities of loving people who reach out to care and support each other.
And of course, always look dapper and have a pair of inside shoes handy.
Won't you be my neighbor?
Mister Rogers’ life lessons are his gift to the world. His message, needed more than ever, was ahead of his time and won’t ever go out of date.
Never wavering, Mister Rogers stood firm in his beliefs that all of humanity are neighbors, and that’s an idea that will never become old-fashioned.
Which of these life lessons do you use to make the world a better place? Tell us about them in the comments below.