3 Important Life Lessons I’ve Learned from Having a Twin Brother with Down Syndrome
Growing up, my twin brother Michael became my best friend and companion. Although he lacks the ability to speak, we would play for hours every day, enjoying each other’s company.
Ever since I was a child, I always viewed Michael as a normal human being just like anyone else. I never questioned angrily why my brother had to be different. I simply understood. This state of innocence persisted as I grew older, and my love for him grew as well. He has easily taught me hard work, responsibility, respect, patience, and much more.
I want to share with you three of the most valuable principles I’ve learned through growing up with Michael.
I’m a firm believer that your thoughts dictate and shape the reality around you. A simple shift in your perspective can easily turn your entire mood around. As best said by one of my favorite self-development speakers, Dr. Wayne W. Dyer: “change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.”
Why sit around and sulk about having a brother who’s just got an extra chromosome? Why worry about something that’s out of my control? Why focus on the negative-- how he can’t speak through words, how he needs constant supervision, or how he needs more assistance?
Why focus all of my energy on all of that, when instead I can be grateful for what I was given?
I was given a best friend right from birth. I was given the opportunity to grow and become more independent. I was given a gift that not only makes my days more enjoyable, but that demonstrates how to enjoy life, without all of the garbage our minds can add into it.
It’s crazy how much our worlds change when we shift our mindset.
2. Living in the Moment
In this day and age, it’s way too easy to get caught up with unnecessary energy. Our society deals with endless stress, whether it be through work, school, money, or our relationships. It can really feel overwhelming.
But it doesn’t have to.
While I was a student-athlete in university, Michael taught me just how important it was to live in the present moment. Given that I would only see him for a couple hours on weekends, it was so important to fully dedicate those hours towards him. If I were to worry about assignments or work or athletics, it would take away from the precious and limited time I had to enjoy with Michael.
Don’t waste your energy ruminating over things you can’t change. There’s no need to focus on the unknown obstacles ahead of you. Instead, take a deep breath, and look and admire the beauty around you. It’s so easy to overlook if your mind is outside of the present.
3. Unconditional Love
Throughout my life, I always wondered why it’s so important to keep the Down Syndrome community. With all of the negative stigma surrounding the population, it’s important to advocate on behalf of these genuine individuals. And many of these individuals blindly express love in the purest form.
My brother doesn’t care what you look like, what clothes you wear, what your race or ethnicity is, what gender you are, what your sexual orientation is, or what religion you support. He simply doesn’t care.
What he does care about, is how he’s treated. If he’s approached in a loving manner, he will reciprocate that back. Not once have I ever seen him discriminate another person. He, and other persons with Down Syndrome, demonstrate love and affection without bias.
I continue to be inspired by these individuals with the beneficial values in life they have to offer. While not everyday has been easy with Michael, I’m beyond grateful for his presence in my life
*also seen on Sivana Spirit: https://blog.sivanaspirit.com/3-important-life-lessons-ive-learned-from-having-a-twin-brother-with-down-syndrome/