What Parents Can Learn from Muhammad Ali

In the 60’s and 70’s, Muhammad Ali seemed anomalous to me. I never saw Ali (or anyone else) box, but I saw glimpses of him on the news. Ali stood out in my mind because I had never heard anyone boast like that. Later, in the 90’s, when I was learning how to attract and manifest what I wanted in life, I learned how important it is to stay positive about myself. Ali was a master at that. And yesterday as I watched Remembering Mohammed Ali on PBS, I realized that he used a technique that I, and other life coaches, teach clients. Probably the first I heard of this technique was in Florence Scovel Shinn’s book, The Game of Life and How to Play It (published in 1925).

The technique I’m referring to is using rhyming to create the life you want. When you make an affirmation rhyme, especially if you are rapping it or singing it to a tune you enjoy, it’s amazing how powerful it becomes. You feel it more when you are having fun saying it over and over, enjoying how it resonates with you. And pretty soon, just as we saw in Ali’s life, your rhyme will come to pass… if you put actions behind your words.
I encourage parents to sing and rap positive rhymes in front of their children. Children learn from what you do, not from what you tell them to do, so I suggest parents create rhymes for themselves, not for their children.

But to allow your kids to get into the habit with you:

  1. Write out your rhyme at the kitchen table while your kids can see you in the process.
  2. Be where they can notice you when you are working to memorize your rhyme.
  3. Once you’ve got it memorized, sing it while you are doing the dishes or washing the car. Do this for yourself, but let them witness the process and hear you singing, rapping, or reciting your rhyme.

If you have young children and you keep singing a rhyme or two every day, until what you want manifests, your kids will follow suit. And they will begin a very productive habit. If your kids are teenagers, they’ll probably think you’re foolish but years later they might adopt the technique.

Ali’s rhymes were confrontational and probably more braggadocios than you care to sound. You might be more comfortable saying something like “I can do this” rather than “I’m the greatest” …. And I would suggest you keep the rhymes, your kids hear you sing, non-materialistic. To attract anything, you want, you need to raise your vibration. So I suggest you focus on being calm, thankful, happy, patient, and productive.

Here’s a simple sample for you to use or improve:
I am patient, productive, and kind.
I always take care of my mind.
I’m happy with all I do.
I’m thankful for my friends and family too.

Remember that affirmations are always positive and in the present tense. And they should make you feel good. If you don’t feel anything when you recite or sing your rhyme, change the wording.

I like to use tunes I know well and change the words. To the tune of “Our House” (by Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young) I might sing:

My life is a very, very, very fine life.
I’ve got flowers in the yard.
Oh how I love my yard.
And everything is easy cuz I’m true… to….my… heart.

What works for me, might not work for you. But what works for you, might sound good to your young child. The simpler the better. And remember, it’s not about teaching your child a rhyme. It’s about you using Muhammad Ali’s technique of rhyming to boost your confidence and make yourself feel calm and at peace. Confidence and a sense of peace will help you attract what’s best for you in life.

The other practice, at which Ali was a master, was following his heart and doing what his conscience led him to do, no matter what. Isn’t that what we want for ourselves and our children?

This little ditty might get you thinking of your own personal rhyme to help you, like the great Ali, be brave enough to heed your inner wisdom:

I follow my heart every day.
I don’t care what others say.
I do what is right for me.
That’s why I have good Chi.

Claire Timberlake
Life Coach
Holistic Health Coach
Author of Soul Secrets of Salsa

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