Life Lessons Learned from the Olympics

by Jessica Von Duerring, Senior Copywriter, Pilates and Barre-Certified

As someone who grew up and lives in Colorado, in a place dominated by mountains and snow sports, the Winter Olympics are my favorite spectator event. During the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, as I was watching in awe the greatest athletes in the world, I realized there were many "teachable moments" that we can all grab onto throughout the ups and downs of life – adults and kids alike. Here are a few of those important lessons. 

Practice. How do you get to the Olympics? Mostly, with practice. Watching these athletes, some of whom are very young, injured or disabled, and hearing their stories is incredibly inspiring. Use this as an opportunity to talk to your kids about practice, and not just in regards to sports. Daily practice and commitment is a cornerstone of steady progress for all things in life, whether it’s learning to tie a pair of shoes, riding a bike, playing the piano – or becoming the next Olympian. 

Goal Setting. The Olympics are a great example of what can happen when you put your mind to something and work diligently to achieve it. These athletes spend most of their lives training in their sport all to achieve one goal – to compete in the Olympic Games and hopefully win a medal. What goals do you want to accomplish? Talk to your kids about what goals they would like to achieve as well, and start setting a path to success. 

Perseverance. Often in life and in sports, it's easy to slack off and not push ourselves hard. When feeling defeated, remember that Olympians never give up, but just keep striving. For example, the ski jumping event has been part of the Winter Olympics from the very beginning, in 1924 – but, only for men. After a 10-year campaign by female ski jumpers, Sochi was the first Winter Games to include women's ski jumping as an official event. 

Sportsmanship. During the Olympics, there were both good and bad examples of sportsmanship. Some athletes showed grace in their victory; others showed defeat. Some thanked their coaches, parents and fans; others just seemed to complain or make excuses. Some were respectful of other athletes, judges and staff; some were ill-mannered. Watching the athletes behavior, on and off the snow and ice, certainly provides ample opportunity to talk to kids about the whole idea of "it's not whether you win or lose; it's how you play the game."

Health and Wellness. The Olympics showcase all shapes and sizes of bodies, from petite figure skaters and lean ski jumpers, to bulky bobsledders and heavy ice hockey players. Of course, these athletes devote much of their training time to physical activity to develop strength, skills and strategy. But, it’s not all about the training – they are what they eat, too. Athletes have a healthy eating plan that keeps them properly fueled and focused. Tell your kids that the athletes do not eat the fast food and soft drinks they see on commercials, even the ones he or she may be endorsing. Nobody becomes a great athlete on a steady diet of junk food and sugary beverages!

Countries and Cultures. With more than 85 countries representing the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, there was no better opportunity for children to learn about different countries and cultures. Now that the Olympics are over yet still fresh in our minds, it can be a good time for a fun geography lesson with your kids (or yourself!). Show your children the athletes’ home countries on a map, or go even further and research what people in that country eat and what language they speak. 

Above all, Olympians teach us to live our passion and let the world see it! Life is short, so dream big, be bold, be kind, and have fun.