We laid Grandma to rest this week. It was an emotional week as we said good-bye to an amazing woman of strength and faith. At her funeral, my Cousins and Aunts paid tribute with stories and memories. The central theme was that she left an incredible legacy.
This week I’ve really been thinking about the legacy she’s left and what it all means. There was a specific trait I greatly admired about Grandma, which also lives within my Aunt Elda.
As the winter blues settle into my heart, this idea of true happiness is one I’ve decided to focus on with Grandma and Aunt Elda as my guide. Both of these amazing woman have been through hardship I will never experience. Grandma was a child who lived through the depression. I am a child of privilege in that I’ve always lived with a fully stocked fridge, a warm home to call my own, and I never had a living need that I wasn’t able to obtain. My children are also privileged in this regard. So how do I live in gratitude when I’ve never had to worry about the necessities of life? Food, clothing, a warm home.
Bare with me as I muddle through hours of thought on this topic. My sister-in-law Mel takes care of my Aunt Elda as she recovers from health issues. She told me that since Aunt Elda has joined the wing, the mood of the other residents has improved. Her positivity and uplifting spirit has spread to those around her.
Rules for Happiness I learned from my Grandma and Aunt Elda
Focus on the Good
Even though they have both lived through times of extreme adversity, they never dwell(ed) on it. Live in the present with a grateful heart. Focus on the good, and leave the bad where it belongs, in the past.
Give, Give, Give
Give of your talents, time, support, and encouragement. Always give more than you take. When you focus on uplifting others, your heart can’t help but be uplifted as well.
Both my Aunt Elda and my Grandma lived for God. Their faith was unwavering. They gave their troubles and burdens to prayer and left it in God’s hands.
Acceptance without Conditions
No judgments, just unconditional love without conditions. One shouldn’t have to worry about conditions placed on love. When you know your friends and family love you no matter what…through the good, the bad, and the ugly, you have the freedom to be authentic. If you expect this gift from your loved ones, one needs to love without condition too! It goes both ways.
Live to encourage others. Always look for the good. If you feel something positive about another person, tell them! With encouragement comes the gift of courage to another, and that’s priceless.
This is a big one for me, I get loaded down with clutter sometimes. “Stuff” means little, fill your home with love and purge anything that doesn’t bring your heart peace and love.
This one brings me happiness daily. Crank the music that makes you feel something. Even the music that allows you to process the trials in life. It’s therapeutic.
This song is playing in the background while I write this, haunting and beautiful all at the same time:
Yes read! Read to broaden your mind, your dreams, your vocabulary. Read to escape. Read to feel. Read to move on. Read to laugh. Just read.
Focus on Family
There is nothing more important in life than family. Make it your focus. Focus on strengthening your relationships which transcends beyond the everyday small talk. Share, communicate, eat meals together. Focus on quality time, even if it’s a few minutes over a cup of hot chocolate or coffee. Focus on family traditions and build new ones.
Ask Questions and then Listen
The art of conversation is lost in this digital age. We communicate through text, facebook, messages, email. One thing I’ve always appreciated about these incredible women in my family, is they asked questions about my life. They held my gaze as we talked, and they truly listened. They are/were genuinely invested. When they asked “how are you?” they sincerely wanted to know details.
To live with empathy for the needs of others is to live in love and connection.
Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. –Leo Buscaglia
Community resonates within the casserole you take to someone in need, lending a hand when someone falls, helping with the harvest, paying it forward to a stranger, a note of encouragement, a coffee delivery, volunteering your time. Coming together for a common interest to bring a little more love to this world.
What do you appreciate about those you love? Now go tell them, show them how much you appreciate them. The very way they show you how they appreciate you can be given back through action in return. I read the book The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman. If you haven’t read it, read it. It has changed the way I understand others. We all show love in different ways. In his book, Gary Chapman breaks it down into 5 love languages.
Words of Affirmation
Act of Service
Now the way you show love to others, may not be recognized as love because they show love in a different way. If you understand how your loved ones perceive and show love, you can then communicate love in their love language and vice versa. We are selfish creatures thinking about ourselves, and wonder why others don’t get us. We are just talking different languages is all.
When you expect something from another person, you will always be let down. If we were to drop the expectations we place on others, wouldn’t that be freeing?! Gone are the guilt trips, and feelings of being let down.
Get outside! Travel, walk, play, visit, participate, join clubs.
Just. Stay. Active.
An active mind, body, and heart keeps you young!
Laughter is healing. Laugh everyday. Make others laugh. Share your embarrassing stories! It can feel vulnerable to share your embarrassing life moments, but it allows others the freedom to do the same. Awkward life moments are funny. They just are.
Oh and Jim Gaffigan…
I know I will add to this list as time goes on. If I can take even a little wisdom from these women, my life will be richer and happier for it.
I’ll leave you with one more song, just because Music is so good for the soul.
From my happy heart to yours,