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Children are a tremendous source of happiness.
Gretchen started off the chapter with this powerful statement. I do not need to be a parent (yet) to know how true this is. Whenever new babies are born, they bring so much joy and excitement to the whole family. Recently, my cousin just had a pair of boy-girl twins who steal the spotlight in every single family gathering. I personally enjoy spending time with these little monsters both in my family and in the children’s ministry. Of course, parenting is a lot more than just chilling and playing with the kids. It takes time, effort and unconditional love. Since I am not a parent at this point, I would like to relate some of key learnings in this chapter to a broader setting.
What did I learn in Lighten Up? Let me walk you through each of them.
1. Acknowledge the reality of people’s feelings
When friends come to me for talk under different circumstances, I try my best to show them that I care about what they are saying by paraphrasing what they just said and validating their emotions in conversation. Sometimes, people may not come to you for solutions but just to fulfill the need to be heard and understood. Acknowledging feelings allows those individuals to have a sentimental release and let them know that they have the right to be emotional and feel the way they do at that moment. If we can provide this type of support to others, we might as well do ourselves a favor: to acknowledge our own feelings too. Do not let your emotions overwhelm you. Listen to yourself and then manage it.
One of the strategies that Gretchen suggested is not to say “no” or “stop”. Indeed, there are many other ways to say no without actually saying the word out. Using positive alternatives would help in the sense that these words usually do not breed resentment and are easily accepted by others. I recognize the importance of this strategy and am honing the skills to apply it to my personal life such as relationships with people, at work, and hopefully parenthood in the future.
2. Be a treasure house of happy memories
Gretchen has mentioned two main elements to create happy memories within a family: taking photos and being a family reporter. I agree with her in both ways. Thanks to my parents, who took a lot of photos of me when I was a kid, sometimes I would dig out the old album stacks for some good laughs. Precious memories are embedded into the pictures, which capture a moment in time that will never happen again. Whenever there is family dinner or gathering, my aunts (including my mom) are all busy taking pictures with other family members. Though sometimes I am confused whether they spend more time eating or taking photos, I am happy they do that which encourages me to take more family photos to memorialize happy moments through pictorial evidence.
Besides taking photos, preserving family traditions is also a key attribute to build a treasure house of happy memories. Though I am the only child in my family, my extended family is huge. I still remember the little games and traditions my cousins and I would engage in when it was Chinese New Year, mid-autumn festival, and Christmas time. Now that we have all grown up, it’s interesting to see my younger cousins and my cousins’ kids doing the same thing we normally did in the past to “mark the passage of time in a happy way”. Those are simple traditions but they support children’s social development and strengthen our family bonding. My commitment here is to do my part in continuing the family tradition and participating in a more active role in terms of organizing family events.
3. Take time for projects
When I see the word “project,” I automatically link it to the type of projects that I encounter at work. No, Gretchen and I are not envisioning that here. Trust me, I like her interpretation of project more. The projects that she was working on are about handmade crafts and birthday cake for her daughters, which created a great memory for herself and the little girls. Her sharing actually reminds me of a lantern making experience between my parents and I when I was in elementary school. After all these years, this family project still flashes through my mind occasionally. We enjoyed the process of making the lantern by scratch and recall this joyful memory every now and then.
As you may be aware, my recent favorite project is undoubtedly the blog that you are currently reading. At first, Keith and I invested a fair amount of time to enhance the functionality of the blog but our collaborative effort made things easier and smoother along this blogging journey. Travelling (together with Keith) is another project that always fascinates me. It resembles the four stages of happiness as mentioned by Gretchen: anticipate, savor it as it unfolds, express happiness, and recall a happy memory. These experiences give us a break from our fast-paced lives, expand our awareness, and introduce us to new perspectives. My take here is to make the most of my time off to create happy memories that inspire us. But of course, it’s always important to work hard too!
Time to recap – my commitments this month include:
1. Acknowledge the reality of people’s feelings – and ourselves’ too
2. Be a treasure house of happy memories – take more photos and preserve family traditions
3. Take time for projects – invest the time for happy memories
That’s it for me this week. My commitments this month are quite different from March in the sense that they are more personally oriented and do not touch much on work, so I am itching to know how I will be doing on these commitments. Before evaluating how I did, come back next week to see how Keith’s commitments helped him lighten up. If you have anything to share in creating happy memories at work or in parenthood, simply drop us a comment below or write to us at email@example.com. We would love to hear from you. Have a great weekend folks!