Food For The Soul

“30 Days to a More Optimistic You” Positivity Challenge – Day 21. Ode to the Bountiful Harvest

Here’s something to be grateful for no matter what the season- the bountiful harvest.

If you always have food on your plate, plenty of choices in the fridge, and a full, satiated belly, don’t take it for granted.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that about 795 million people of the 7.3 billion people in the world, or one in nine, were suffering from chronic undernourishment in 2014-2016.

Hunger must surely have been a grave concern and possible fact of life for many of the early settlers who migrated to our great country to make a better life for themselves.

Indeed, these pioneers likely did not take survival for granted, and in this country we’ve come a long way from that.

If to you, “hunger” means going longer than 3 hours without eating and then sitting down to a heaping plate… then rejoice in the blessing of good food shared with family and friends.

Where does your food come from? Have you ever thought about this?

If you grow a backyard garden, then you know where at least some parts of your meals originate from.

If you purchase meats from a local farm, then you have greater awareness of where your food comes from than most others living in this country.

Feel blessed this year for the delicious, home cooked meals that will grace your table and fill your belly past the point of comfort.

Give thanks for thick, succulent slices of carved meats – ham, turkey, roast beef.

Give thanks for balanced and flavorful vegetarian selections if you opt to not eat some or all animal products.

Give thanks for takeout, prepared foods and the drive-through… for those times when you don’t have time to prepare a home-cooked meal.

Give thanks for delicious, home-baked cookies, pies, birthday cakes, puddings, oh my!

You needn’t be religious or celebrating a holiday to stop and give thanks for the bounty of goodness that graces your table and fills your belly.

Consider the very great effort, the many steps, the time and the detailed work that was put into cultivating, harvesting and transporting our food from farm to table to plate.

Exercise: Ease Hunger for Another

We can do so much more than simply clasp our hands and bow our heads in gratitude around the dinner table.

Take Action to Make A Difference

This year, make plans to donate cans of food, so that the less fortunate may partake of a hot and nourishing meal over this long and often dreary winter.

Most schools, churches and many other organizations run programs that allow you to drop off canned and packaged items.

If you want to take it even further, how about volunteering at a soup kitchen?

Suppose you work at a restaurant, grocery store or other food establishment. How much food gets tossed into the garbage at the end of another day?

Consider if there is a way to preserve this food so that it may be offered to those who can benefit from its nourishment.

This could be a wonderful way to share your giving spirit and make a difference for people in need.

Journal It.

Make a list of all the ways you can offer food to the hungry. Commit to a plan. Make it happen. Feeding the hungry is a way to nourish your own soul.

To helping others

Fran Watson

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Mindfulness

“30 Days to a More Optimistic You” Positivity Challenge – Day 20. Challenge Yourself to Live in the Present Moment

Today for our positivity rumination, we will expand our mind to living in the present moment.

It’s easier to feel thankful for the simple gifts of life when we are mentally able to remain in the present.

Most of us have a lot of trouble living mindfully, or staying present.

  • While our children talk to us, we look down at our phones or scroll through messages.
  • While we cook dinner for our families, we think about how we’ll soon have to run out the door for our next planned activity.
  • During activities that we signed up to participate in, our minds forward us to even more activities that we might want to do, or have already committed to.
  • Sometimes while reading a book, we find ourselves flashing back to an earlier conversation. We worry about what we said and who might have been offended by it. Or we imagine what we should have said, or will say next time.

This is a stressful way to think! It isn’t healthy for our relationships. And with everyone so immersed in social media all the time, it’s only getting worse.

Exercise: Choose an Activity to Help You Stay Present.

Certain activities help us improve our mental ability to live in the present moment. Some include:

Yoga. Yoga involves stretching your body into certain poses that you hold still for while breathing deeply. This is extremely good for calming the mind, easing nervous tension and putting your parasympathetic nervous system into a restful state.

Meditation. Meditation is difficult for some people to understand. This is because they’ve never tried it. All that meditation really involves is fixating your gaze and your thoughts on a single focal point, and breathing. It’s easier to meditate after you’ve released some tension with a yoga session first.

Spend Time Outdoors

Spending time outdoors. When we’re inside for hours at a time, we are away from natural light and likely exposed to computers for too long. Stepping away from the screen and into the natural world is one of the best things you can do for yourself. Nature is extremely grounding and will bring you into the present moment.

Journal It.

If you find yourself constantly flashing backward into the past and forward into the future, feeling restless and unsatisfied, you may want to question why this is happening.

To discover why, journal your day’s activities. Write down every little thing you do, as you remember it.

  • How often did you find yourself mentally stuck in the future or the past?
  • How many times did you engage in compulsive activities like checking messages or scrolling feeds?

Make a list of grounding activities you might like to try to get you back to the present. Working with your hands could be a mindful activity for you. Which of these appeals to you?

  • Handicrafts – sewing, knitting, crocheting, latch hooking, weaving, needlepoint, other
  • Woodworking – building with wood, carving wood, etching wood
  • Sculpting – working with clay, pottery making
  • Fine arts – painting, drawing, pastels, coloring
  • Breadmaking – working with dough
  • Gardening – turning over beds, planting, weeding, harvesting

Select an activity from above that you might enjoy. Set aside an hour each day to partake in this pastime.

See how you feel afterward. Are you able to slow down and stay in the present?

To being present most of the time

Fran Watson

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Parenting

“30 Days to a More Optimistic You” Positivity Challenge – Day 19. Honoring Your Mother and Father

On day 19 of the 30 Days of Positivity Challenge, we’ll talk about honoring our parents.

This can be a touchy subject for some. If so, please feel free to skip this exercise if it’s too painful for you.

Some people grew up without a mom or a dad. For them, maybe it’s a Grandma, Grandpa, Aunt, or other stand-in parental figure(s) who took on the tough job of raising them. In this rumination, you can spend time formulating good thoughts for the person or people who helped shape who you are today. We’ll just call them Mom or Dad in this exercise, to simplify things a bit.

If you had the good fortune of being surrounded and supporting by parents who were as close to perfect as is humanly possible, then celebrate Mom and Dad for everything they were and are to you.

Exercise: Honoring the Truth Your Parents and How They Influenced the Person You’ve Become

When you think of your mom, what words come to mind? What kind of woman was she, as a mother to you growing up?

  • Was your mom a soft-voiced person who took care of everything from a quiet place in the background?
  • Was she a bit of a dramatic figure who wasn’t afraid to express her opinions? Did Mom rule with an iron fist in a velvet glove?

Whatever your mom’s personality, we all have those “parent tapes” that play in our heads any time we’re faced with a challenge.

Some people joke that there’s a devil on one shoulder, and an angel on the other. But really, the person’s voice whom you probably hear in the back of your mind during all your decision-making is your mother’s, isn’t it!

So what types of things did your mom say?

Do you say those same phrases to your children now if you have kids?

What did Mom say that you liked to hear? What other things did she say that may have bothered you, and why?

Whatever your Mom said, she must have done some things right to help you grow into the fine person you are today.

So today, for just a little while, think about the job your mother must have had to take on while rearing you as a child. Be grateful for the ways your relationship with your mother has influenced you positively.

Even if some episodes with your mother stood out as being more negative than positive, look into your own personality and explore how relating with your mom has caused you to behave in certain ways in your adult life.

Surely your mom has influenced the choices you’ve made, by what she did and said or even what she did not do or did not say. That’s something to be grateful for.

Repeat this exercise for your dad. At certain times and during certain activities, you can probably hear your dad’s voice making strong suggestions on what to do, or perhaps just chiming in with a running commentary.

  • What types of things did your father say to you growing up?
  • How did his remarks, instructions or admonishments make you feel?
  • What actions did you take (or not take) based on the influence of your father?
  • What was Dad good at doing? What did you enjoy doing together?

Be grateful for having had a father, or a father-figure, to help you gain insights into the person you wanted to grow into. Be grateful that your Dad had a hand in who you became.

Journal It.

Set aside a half-hour or more today, to pen some good words about your mom, dad, or both. If you’re a parent, write about the things you plan to carry forward thanks to the way your parents raised you.

If you had some bad experiences being parented by your mother, father or both, then try this. Recognize your mother and/or father as being human and fallible. Know that they only had so much to work with – the self esteem that was given to them (or denied them) by their own parents, or parent-figures.

If you had trouble relating with your Mom or Dad when you were young, or even now, try to think of them as just another set of people instead of assigning them this larger-than-life hero role that sometimes we feel our parents should be to us. You can even write them a letter expressing how they made you feel. (You don’t have to send it – this is meant to be cathartic.)

If you parents did wrong by you, forgive them for it. To do this will set you free, and open the door to positive experiences.

You don’t have to be best friends with your mom or dad. (But if you are best friends, then that’s great!)

If your parents did right by you, then be grateful. Tell them thank you for doing the best they could.

To having good memories and being grateful

Fran Watson

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All the Comforts Of Home

“30 Days to a More Optimistic You” Positivity Challenge – Day 18. Grateful for Creature Comforts

For today’s exercise, we’ll be ruminating on creature comforts. That is, those things in life that we almost take for granted but yet they enhance our enjoyment greatly.

If you’re too comfortable right now to participate in this activity, that’s okay. Come back to it when you’re in the mood. As stated before, positivity cannot be faked. It’s your right and privilege to express yourself in your own way and in your own time.

If you’re reading this, you probably live in a developed country. So, home heating and cooling, clean drinking water, indoor plumbing and cars that get us where we want to go are things you likely don’t think about much.

But consider what your daily existence would be like without these things.

Imagine how it feels to live in a country where a pair of shoes is a thing of novelty.

Imagine what it might be like to fall seriously ill while living in a place where there is no modern health care.

If you’re like most American citizens, you’ve probably grown a bit spoiled and come to expect certain things. This is not a criticism of you personally. An entitled mindset goes hand in hand with a first world country existence.

But there are definitely times when tragedy strikes in some place or another, and we either live it or we hear about it through friends of friends or via the media.

While no one wants to be impacted by tragedy or suffer loss due to something catastrophic, it’s at these times that we are suddenly able to appreciate the comforts that we’ve come to take for granted in our lives.

For just a short moment today, reflect on all the things that make your life easy and comfortable while enhancing your enjoyment.

Exercise 18: Be Blessed for the Creature Comforts of Your Life

There is so much in the way of “basics” to be thankful for!

  • Heat and hot water
  • Electricity and plumbing
  • Functioning sewer systems
  • Water treatment facilities that provide clean water to drink and bathe in
  • Gasoline and electric that powers our vehicles
  • Well built homes that stay warm (or cool) and dry

When you think of all these creature comforts that enhance our personal experiences on a daily basis, it’s just a wonder and a testament to the brilliance of the human mind and all we’ve created.

Journal It!

Next time you feel like complaining about a minor inconvenience that impacts a short amount of your time, just stop. Stop and think of what your life would be like in a third-world country.

Write down all the comforts that make your cushy life what it is. Be happy!

To appreciating your life

Fran Watson

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Special Friends

“30 Days to a More Optimistic You” Positivity Challenge – Day 17. Special Needs Folks Remind of What’s Really Important

“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.”
-Henry David Thoreau

Do you know someone who is differently abled or has special needs?

If there’s anyone whom we can take a life lesson in appreciation from, it’s special needs folks.

Some people might look at people whose brains function a bit differently than the majority of individuals, and be apt to judge them or dismiss them due to their slower approach to living.

The truth is that families who have been touched by special needs in such a way have discovered that these folks have much to teach us about celebrating life and living in the moment.

Your experience with special needs individuals can be profound and life-changing if you open your mind and allow their hearts to speak to yours.

Exercise 17: Engage With A Person Who Has Special Needs.

If you have never been around people who are developmentally disabled, then you may benefit from volunteering at a special needs facility or attending an event where you’ll be able to meet and interact with these gentle folks who wear their hearts on their sleeves.

We know that special needs folks need us. But what we may not realize is that we need them just as much.

In a world of frenzied activity, where people withdraw from each other while hiding behind their technology, it’s a blessing and a privilege to engage with a person who has special needs.

How to Engage in With Special Needs Folks:

Dance and sing. Most everyone loves music, and special needs people are no exception. If you adore singing and dancing and are tired of stuffy individuals who hold you back from fully immersing yourself in this pleasure-filled activity, then you’ll thrive in the presence of special needs folks who probably feel moved by the very same music as you do and have no trouble expressing it. Attending a special needs dance, where everyone is free to become one with the music, may just be the best thing you ever do in your life.

Dance, sing, create

Create. Every human has a creative side. If you spend time guiding special needs folks through activities such as drawing, painting, sculpting and other art forms, you’ll find that their talent and knack for expressing themselves through creativity abounds. Life can be difficult when you’re differently abled. People are apt to misunderstand you or pass over opportunities to get to know you. Art is a healthy way for these folks to bring their emotions to the surface and heal.

Play sports. For many of us, sports don’t need to be a competition (although they certainly can be, even for those of us with different abilities). If you’re searching for a healthy outlet that will make a difference for people with special needs, and if you love to play sports or serve in a coaching capacity, then you might try signing up for organized sports with special needs individuals.

Journal It.

If you choose to allow one special needs person, or a group of them, to become a part of your life while you make a positive impact on theirs, then this experience might be worth writing about.

Remember to slow down and fully engage when you meet with your special needs friends. Look into their eyes. Smile at each other. Ask questions and tell jokes. You’ll likely find a willing participant who looks forward to spending time with you, and expresses this openly which is a beautiful thing.

Write down bits of conversations that you have with your special needs friend or friends. They’re apt to be some of the most honest and refreshing talks you’ll ever have with another person in your life! And that is definitely a blessing to be grateful for.

To making a difference in someone’s life.

Fran Watson

Be Thankful


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Your Brain Is Amazing

“30 Days to a More Optimistic You” Positivity Challenge – Day 16. Grateful for Your Powerful, Amazing Mind

On Day 16 of our Positivity Challenge, we will explore something truly amazing – your brain!

The brain needs to be regularly challenged in order to attain its uttermost performance.”Frank Knoll, Memory: Renew Your Memory: Obtain an Unlimited Powerful Memory

The Human Brain

Here are some fun factoids about the human brain to ruminate on and be grateful for.

  1. Human memory begins to function approximately 20 weeks after conception. That’s a lifetime of potential memories to create.
  2. The storage capacity of the human brain is virtually limitless. So it’s highly likely that your mental capabilities far exceed your own expectations. Put it to the test and see what you accomplish!
  3. It is believed that an adult brain can recall anywhere from 20 to 100,000 words.
  4. The more sleep we get, the better our brains are able to retrieve long-term memories.
  5. We all know that memory is strongly influenced by our sense of smell. That is, a familiar scent can evoke an emotional response triggered by memory. This happens in the hippocampus.
  6. The more you think, the more you exercise the muscle of your brain, and the better that muscle will perform.
  7. Most short-term memories only last 20 to 30 seconds.
  8. You can improve memory recall as you age by exercising and challenging your brain on a routine basis.

Exercise 16: Love Your Amazing Brain

If you want to show some love to the incredible organ that serves as the power center of your being and controls every function of your body, then make sure you exercise your brain every day.

This is especially important as you grow older, and you’re less apt to engage in activities that stimulate your mind. Don’t let idleness or fatigue rob you of your mental potential. The young at heart stay mentally and physically active longer, and that’s how these lively folks manage to live to a ripe old age.

How to exercise your brain? It’s not as difficult as you might think.

Get out of the house for a few hours each day. Explore new places and acquaint yourself with new faces. Take a different route. Did you know that that taxi drivers’ brains have a bigger area of the part of the brain that processes navigation through space? This is due to their constant reading of maps and driving. Don’t let the GPS lag your mental faculties. Plot out the route, it’s great for your brain!

Converse. Talk to people. Tell your stories. If thinking about memories improves your memory, then sharing stories with others will not only benefit those whom you enlighten, but it’s apt to keep you sharp as well.

Stay active. Exercise each day. Get out into the sunshine. Take a brisk walk. Moderate exercise will keep your body fit so you’ll be able to move more easily as you age. Sitting in one spot for too long can make your body and brain want to shut down. Don’t live your life in sleep mode! Get out and move, keep the blood circulating so your thoughts can flow.

Some activities that improve your brain function:

Colourful Knitting
  • Knitting, crocheting, woodworking and other handicrafts
  • “Brain Teasers” such as crossword puzzles, logic puzzles, Sidoku, or word games such as Scrabble https://www.mindgames.com/Brain+Games
  • Socializing (yes! Even just engaging in conversations with different people exercises your mind)
  • Taking care of people or animals. Caring for others boosts feel-good brain chemicals which increases neural activity and benefits your overall health.

Journal It.

Writing is great for the brain. Do you find that you remember better when you can picture the written words in your mind? You may be a visual learner. Keep a personal journal that you write a short entry in each day. From time to time, go back and reflect on what you wrote. This simple and satisfying activity is really good for your mental muscle. Feel blessed for your amazing brain. Treat your brain well, and your brain will respond in kind.

Journalling


To exercising your brain

Fran Watson

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Body Positive

“30 Days to a More Optimistic You” Positivity Challenge – Day 15. Grateful for Your Powerful, Miraculous Body

For today’s 30 Days of Positivity Challenge, we’re going to ruminate on the miracle of your body.

Body Positive

Your body is a perfect machine, all parts working in concert, directed by your complex power center, the brain and nervous system – the hard wiring that’s responsible for it all coming together so naturally and effortlessly. Regulated by your pulsating heart that carries blood to the outermost edges, and allowing you to exist in this world!

When you were born, your mind was an untouched tablet, waiting to be imprinted upon. Your body was a bundle of untapped and undeveloped potential.

Look at you now! Isn’t it a wonder. Why do we take our beautiful and miraculous bodies for granted? Why do so many people abuse and neglect their wondrous bodies, the chassis that supports a living, breathing human soul?

So many people have a negative perception of their bodies. They want perfection – a concept that only exists in our minds. But they fail to recognize the stark beauty of their wondrous bodies and the life they support.

Exercise 15: Practice Loving and Appreciating Your Body

Your body contains you. Your body gets you from here to there.

Your body is powerful. You can use it to carry things and move things. Your body takes you where you want to go.

You have full control over your body. You can move it fast, or slow, or not at all. Your body shuts down and recharges every night. That, too, is miraculous!

Your mind controls your body more than you realize. Did you know that some people who have practiced yoga for many, many years are able to regulate their own heart beat and blood pressure? It’s true. Google it.

Think about Olympic athletes, and the amazing feats they perform using their bodies.

Working Your Body

Have you ever watched Cirque De Soleil? The bodily capabilities of these performers absolutely boggle the mind.

Your body is a miracle! Celebrate it and appreciate it, even with all your perceived flaws.

  • Adopt a healthy attitude about your body. Treat it like the temple it is.
  • Reject your own perceived limitations of your body. Stop thinking that “you can’t.”
  • If someone criticizes the way your body looks, get rid of them.
  • Feed your body healthy food. Exercise your body. Give your body the rest it needs to heal and self protect.

If you’ve never done yoga before, embark on a practice. There are many videos to learn from on YouTube and other websites.

You can also get a book on how to do each yoga pose, and the benefit it provides to your body.

Yoga is a hands-on way to get to know your body and understand its capabilities and your powerful control over it.

The condition and health of your body is entirely up to you!

Journal It.

What ways have you managed to show your body some love today? Write about it.

What parts of your body do you appreciate? Do you have strong legs? A lovely, long neck? Celebrate the Venusian curves of your womanly body, or the lean, powerful mass of you if you’re a man or you’re bestowed with big muscles. Perhaps your body is soft and yielding like a pillow, or sinewy and craggy in spots. Those things are beautiful, too.

Did you use your body to help someone today? What did you do? Carry heavy objects? Move quickly in time to assist someone in need? Did you put your body against another, in a warm and loving embrace?

Helping

To developing your body

Fran Watson

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Spend Time With Nature

“30 Days to a More Optimistic You” Positivity Challenge – Day 14. Commune With Nature

On Day 14 of our Positivity Challenge, we’ll talk about giving thanks for the beauty of nature and miracle of life on this planet.

Communing With Nature

Do you ever marvel at the perfect balance of conditions that sustain life here on Earth?

Do you ever think that water is the main reason we’re here, existing in our lives?

No other planets in our solar system have an abundance of water as we do. The beautiful, life-giving water that covers our planet and serves so much purpose in our lives for health, pleasure and utilitarian means.

It can be fun and illuminating to expand your consciousness to the most miniscule creatures, seen and unseen, that exist in our natural world. Next time you take a trip into the deep dark woods, think of the tiny, strange beings living a complex existence beneath the ground under your feet.

Are they that much different from us? Are they better, for instinctively knowing that the best way to sustain life is by cooperating and communing with Mother Nature?

It can be just as enjoyable to expand your mind to the edges of existence that can never be reached. The endless heavens above, the tiny points of light that fill the night sky… the rain that collects into our oceans, rivers and lakes, then cycles right back up into the atmosphere to repeat this miraculous process all over again.

Consider that giant ball of fire in the sky – our sun. The thing that nurtures life into being here on planet earth, along with the rain that quenches and the soil that nourishes.

Exercise 13: Return to Nature and Be Grateful

For many people in our modern world, technology and the virtual reality existence has removed us from our place in the natural world.

Walking In The Woods

Being outside in nature doesn’t have to be some exotic and unusual experience. All you have to do is step outside to once again experience the grounding effects of sun beating down on your shoulders, your feet planted firmly atop the rock of our great planet.

Be thankful for all of our modern experiences, but not at the expense of forgetting about the wonders of nature which have existed all along and brought us to this beauteous Eden of Planet Earth.

Exercise: Explore the Wonders of Nature and be Grateful.

It’s not so hard to get back into nature as one might think. The first step is to take a hiatus from looking at your smart phone.

Next time you have a spare hour or two, head out into the natural world and feel your worries and preoccupations slipping away as you drink in the peacefulness all around you.

  • Pack a lunch and enjoy it slowly and mindfully while sitting by a lake or stream.
  • Walk in the rain. Leave your umbrella at home.
  • Find some good hiking trails. Choose one that matches your ability level so you’ll be relaxed and refreshed after your journey.
  • Plan a family vacation to someplace where you’ll see some spectacular natural wonders.
  • Go with your children to explore a cavern beneath the ground, with its curious-looking stalagmite and stalactite stone formations.
  • Plan a camping trip. Sleep beneath the stars while crickets serenade you. Cook food using fire. Sing songs. Tell stories.
  • Shake off your winter blues – go out and play in the snow, bask in the intense sunlight and breathe the crisp, clean air.
  • Take a trip to the seashore. Behold the great ocean and all of its alien-like life forms – crabs, starfish, jelly fish, mollusks of all kinds.
  • Explore the amazing world of bugs. Nurture caterpillars into butterflies. Collect fire flies in a jar, then let them go free. Observe the behavior of dragonflies. Say hello to a ladybug.

Journal It.

Mary Oliver is a famous poet who captures the miracles of nature in her words. If you’d like to spend some time communing with nature and reflecting on the beauty of the world around you, you might bring along a book of her poems for inspiration.

Reflecting

Also bring along a notebook of your own. Spend some time doing as Mary Oliver does. Reflect on the full sensory experience of nature and the peace brought about by quietly observing God’s creatures.

To continuous reflection on the world around us

Fran Watson

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Imperfections Are Sometimes Perfect

“30 Days to a More Optimistic You” Positivity Challenge – Day 13. Grateful for Your Family in All Their Beautiful Imperfection

Nothing can compare to the relationships we share with family.

Family

For some, family life means happy chaos, warmth and affection, and the freedom to be yourself. For others, family life presents some serious challenges to overcome.

Most people’s families fall somewhere in the middle – love and support at some times, friction and misunderstanding at others. Having a family of imperfect people is perfectly normal and healthy!

The thing about families is this. There are always positive takeaways, even in the most complex relationships.

In your family, are things always what they seem to be? Sometimes not.

For example, in a family where the children were lavished with love and bestowed many gifts and constant help, children may take longer to grow into maturity and independence.

A family life of deprivation may produce adults who seek to compensate for a “lack of toys” in their youth by indulging their every whim and maybe even bringing things full circle to lavish their children with gifts at every turn.

Another interesting aspect of family life is the confusion that results from marrying someone who grew up in a family that is totally different from yours.

Some ways families can prove different from one to the next:

  • Style and frequency of communication
  • Child-rearing and discipline
  • Methods of teaching (showing versus doing)
  • Ways of celebrating
  • Ideas of togetherness, or lack of in some cases
  • Religion and its role in your family life
  • Traditional versus progressive gender roles
  • Attitudes about money

Here’s something to remember about family: You are free to leave the lesser aspects of your own family’s life history behind, and adopt new and healthier ways of relating with your own partner and children.

In fact, possibly the best thing you can do for your own children if you have them, is to pick and choose from the “best of the best” traits of each partner’s family life growing up.

No matter what your family life consisted of, and what it is now, one thing is for certain: we learn so much from family, and for that alone we can be grateful.

So many of us have so much to be thankful for about our families:

  • Trust, safety and comfort
  • Positive role models
  • A strong work ethic
  • Special, inherited talents and other positive qualities
  • Entertaining personalities and good humor
  • Opportunities to grow in a supportive and nurturing environment
  • Special memories and great stories
  • Holiday celebrations, traditions and recipes
  • Acceptance for our flaws and shortcomings
  • People who will love us no matter what

Exercise 13: Finding Reasons to Feel Blessed for Family

What do you love most about your family?

Write About Your Special Family Moments

Think about the ways your family has shaped your personality and life.

What’s different, and wonderful, about your family?

What are the best family memories you can recall?

How have the less-than-perfect aspects of your family life helped to shape who you are today?

What have you learned from the challenges and struggles in your family?

What ways can you find to be grateful for the adverse situations present in your family? How did these experiences help you grow and improve as a person?

Journal It.

Spend some time reflecting on the word “family” and what it means to you.

Write down your most vivid childhood memories, and how they shaped who you are today.

Stop and list the things about your family that you’re grateful for.

How have you managed to cultivate a unique sense of family within your social circle, even if not a “traditional” family?

To traditional and non-traditional families.

Fran Watson

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Learning From Our Elders

“30 Days to a More Optimistic You” Positivity Challenge – Day 12. Appreciating the Wisdom of Our Elders

What do you think of “old people” – seniors?

Our Elders

Are you a senior yourself? How are you managing to keep pace with the information age? Do you find that young people tend to want to hurry you along from one activity to the next?

Is it difficult for you to find a willing audience to listen to your tales and heed your good advice?

In some cultures, elders are held in the highest regard. Younger individuals respect and revere their grandparents and great grandparents for the wisdom they have gained through life experiences. Families are expected to house and financially support their aging parents, providing comfort, care and dignity in their final chapter of life.

Old folks have a lot to teach us. People born during the “baby boom” era of the 1940s and on knew a very different world than the one we live in today. The pace was much slower, and there were far fewer rules and regulations impeding personal freedom.

They were also witness to rapid advancements including the invention of the television and later the computer… VCRs, microwaves, compact disc players… things that are now considered fairly antiquated.

Our parents and grandparents sat spellbound as the first men stepped foot on the moon. They lived through World War II, were part of the Civil Rights Movement, ushered in the liberation of women in American society, and many other sweeping societal changes.

One thing that more of us should feel blessed to have is the wisdom of our elders. What can an older person teach you about living meaningfully?

What about hard work? Loyalty, respect and integrity?

Exercise 12: Practicing Gratitude for Our Elders

Here’s a simple thing to do that will make an older person’s day, and maybe even yours too. Spend some quality time with them.

Never Too Old

It doesn’t take much effort to enjoy the simple pleasures of, say, a slice of pie, a cup of coffee and a good conversation with someone older than you who has seen and done some things, and lived to tell about it.

When was the last time you had a lunch date with your aging mom or dad?

Do you know someone living in a retirement home? Pay them a visit. Make it a practice to see them as often as you can.

Try to imagine yourself in an old person’s shoes. Someday you, too, will seem slow and out of touch, to a young person for whom the world is so much different that the one you came of age in.

Older people want to be heard. They come from a time when the art of conversation was truly that – an art.

What can you learn about communication from someone older than you?

Journal It.

Write down some questions that you’ve been meaning to ask your favorite senior.

What You Need

Bring along the piece of paper to present the questions on your next visit. Listen carefully. Give them the floor, and watch their eyes light up as they recall magical tales of their youth.

Later on, write down what they told you. This will be a keepsake to treasure for always.

To learning more from your elders

Fran Watson

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