Wonder: The power of precepts

09 February 2018 - inspiration

Photo credit: Film Racket

“Precepts or maxims are of great weight; and a few useful ones at hand do more toward a happy life than whole volumes that we know not where to find.” – Seneca

We recently watched the movie Wonder. Based on the children’s novel by R.J. Palacio, it follows August Pullman, a homeschooled 10-year-old living in New York with this family, who starts middle school. As his face is deformed due to a type of mandibulofacial dysostosis along with other facial malformations, the film explores the emotional and psychological realties that children face when subjected to schoolyard bullying. The movie is an honest heart-tugger (warning: we shed a few tears) that moves the audience with its level-headed empathy, wit, assurance and benevolence. The book itself inspired the Choose Kind movement in the United States.

August’s memorable English teacher, Mr Browne, introduces the students to the concept of precepts - “a command or principle intended especially as a general rule of action.” Mr. Browne says, “I love using precepts in my classroom. You throw them out there, and you never know what you’re getting back, what’s going to strike a chord with a kid, or what’s going to make them think a little deeper, a little bigger, than if they were just trying to answer a question from a book.”

R.J. Palacio created a spin-off book, About 365 Days of Wonder: Mr. Browne’s Book of Precepts, which features conversations between Mr. Browne and the student characters. It celebrates the kindness of human beings, the strength of people’s hearts, and the power of the human will. One of our dear friends gifted this book to us a few years ago as a source of daily love and laughter. We’ve selected a few of our favourite precepts to share with you.

“We carry within us the wonders we seek around us.” – Sir Thomas Browne

“No man is an island, entire of itself.” – John Donne

“Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.” – Henry James

“Don’t tell me the sky’s the limit when there’s footprints on The Moon.” – Paul Brandt

“Just be who you want to be, not what others want to see.” – Unknown

“There is no shame in not knowing. The shame lies in not finding out,” – Assyrian proverb

“To be loved, be lovable.” – Ovid

“The smile is the shortest distance between two persons.” – Victor Borge

“When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on.” – Thomas Jefferson

“It’s not what happens to you, but how you react that matters.” – Epictetus

“Be the person who can smile on the worst day.” – Cate

“The man who moves a mountain must start by moving small stones.” – Chinese proverb

“He was a bold man that first ate an oyster.” – Jonathan Swift

“The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little extra.” – Jimmy Johnson

“You can complain because roses have thorns, or you can be grateful because thorn bushes have roses.” – Ziggy (Tom Wilson)

“It’s not the load that breaks you down. It’s the way you carry it.” – C.S. Lewis

“The purpose of life is a life of purpose.” – Robert Byrne

“Making a million friends is not a miracle…the miracle is to make such a friend who can stand with you when millions are against you.” – Unknown

“Life is like an ice-cream cone; you have to lick it one day at a time.” – Charles M. Schulz

What are your favourite precepts? Share them with us at hello@mindful-company.com.

- The Mindful Company Team