As we ate our dinner, my younger sister was discussing her recent tests; no matter how hard she tried, she could not improve her grades. A couple of times during the conversation, I interrupted: “I am exhausted! Between having two hours of dance every night, plus flute and homework, it is just really hard. At this rate I’m not going to be able to end the year with a 4.0 GPA.”
Mom and Dad listened attentively, occasionally correcting my sisters and me for interrupting. After we finished speaking, they would encourage us, telling us that things weren’t as bad as we thought; we quickly replied with more complaints.
Then my dad spoke up. “I want you girls to listen to what I am about to say.”
We all stared intently, waiting to hear what Dad’s next sentence would be.
“Too easy, drill sergeant!”
“This was a phrase that I learned from our gunnery sergeant back when I was in Marine Corps training. Throughout our training, some of our drills included running and swimming through the snowy landscape of Boulder, Colorado. But after each exercise when asked how we were doing we would reply, ‘Too easy, drill sergeant,’ and then continue back at our drills. This helped me to push through all adversity with determination never to complain or give up,” Dad said.
He then continued to explain how our problems in life would diminish if we maintained a positive outlook. By the end of the conversation, we were all speechless, having run out of excuses.
After contemplating what Dad had said, I began to realize that I always had a negative approach to things when they became too stressful. When we become negative about things, we actually make the events in our life a lot more complicated. By being negative, I could never get the most out of things. I realized that if I had gone into dance class with a positive attitude, I might have learned things easier and built a greater passion for dancing. If I had developed a positive approach toward school and homework, not only would I be able to understand more of the instruction I was receiving, but I would also appreciate the knowledge that I was being given.
After hearing that phrase from Dad, I immediately set to work trying to resist that negative approach. I began praying about everything in great detail, asking God to help me with school assignments, learning and completing new dance steps, and practicing flute more efficiently every day.
On top of this, I started teaching myself to have an immediate positive reaction. When handed an assignment, I began taking it as an opportunity to understand what we were learning better. When it came to dance classes, learning the new steps and then drilling for several hours would help us to become better dancers in the end. And after a while, I found that I really enjoyed all of the extra exercise we did and occasionally would want to do more.
After going through this routine for a while, I realized that I still had plenty of time in my day if I wanted to do extra study, reading, or other fun activities. I learned that it wasn’t all the activities in my life that were making me stressed—it was me! By overthinking things and relying only on myself to complete them, I was making everything harder.
This one little phrase helped teach me build a more positive attitude and open mind; it helped me realize that everything is always: “Too easy, drill sergeant!”