As a proud Mom, I have a deep desire to instill manners, values and wise habits into our daughter, Aurora. To me, this is the foundation of kindness and morality – lessons for living and a set of principles that most of us have learned from our elders. And, if we didn’t however, we’re not alone. In fact, western civilizations don’t revere the elderly like they once did.
With the issues we are facing today and the need for our actions to be in alignment with future sustainability, I think now, more than ever, is the time to reflect and live the wisdom of our dear elders. I’ve been thinking a lot about this since my grandma left from her recent visit, so I felt compelled to write.
As I spend time with her, I am reminded of the same things she would teach me as a child. You know, the same things I would think “Ok – Grandma, what is the point of this?” Now, I understand and realize more than ever that it’s important to live this wisdom and pass it on.
It’s our goal to make the world a better place for our children and their generation. We wish for them to be healthy and well, to live abundant lives and to achieve their greatest dreams. Therefore, it is our duty to remain conscious and live the wise adage of Gandhi, “Be the change we wish to see.”
Adopting a more gracious and thankful attitude is really the key to living a happy life. It’s a small (but BIG) secret to success and fulfillment. I remember my grandmother telling me often when I would feel upset or sad about something that life is good. She would remind me, “You have eyes that can see the colors of the trees. A nose that can smell delicious food. A tongue that can taste. Feet that can take you anywhere. Clean water to wash. Electricity to turn on a light.” etc.
Sometimes when things aren’t going our way, it’s good to stop and look at all the things that are going well. We really can switch our focus on to anything we truly want at any moment. Sure, it’s not always the easiest thing to do. But, with conscious practice it gets easier and easier until it’s a way of life. Living with an attitude of gratitude every day doesn’t mean life will be perfect, but it does make it better it also means life will be filled with fun, magical surprises.
While my grandma was visiting, she put into perspective how much I could reuse. We typically recycle and reuse some things when we can but we have a small home; so to avoid clutter, we don’t like to keep too much around that we don’t use frequently. However, there are clever ideas that can take a simple items and turn them into useful tools. Here are some examples of reusable items:
- Glass Jars for storing item like dry goods, spices, buttons, screws, etc.
- Plastic containers (butter, milk jugs, food containers, etc.) to store leftovers or drinks made at home.
- Toilet Paper Rolls to start seedlings in the garden
- Vegetable trimmings for broth:
- Save up all of the trimmings and put them in a pot of water. Boil for a while until the flavor is strong enough for your taste, then take out the trimmings and voila!
3. Eat Less
“Want to learn to eat a lot? Here it is: Eat a little. That way, you will be around long enough to eat a lot.” – Tony Robbins
60 years ago, eating habits were completely different than what we consider normal today. People are so busy that they eat what they can, when they can, where they can. This can lead to a sort of binge eating that doesn’t balance nutrition. And when people eat, the amounts eaten continue to grow.
For example: In the 1950’s, the standard fast food meal included:
One 7 ounce drink One 3.9 ounce hamburger One 2.4 ounce order of french fries.
Today, the same fast food meal includes:
One 42 ounce drink One 12 ounce hamburger One 6.7 ounce order of french fries.
Suddenly, the obesity epidemic seems equal to food portions. Even if you control the type of food you eat, you always have to watch the amount of food you eat. A while back I read a very inspiring article about a 116 year old man said “to eat light and live long”.
Every time my grandma visits, I find myself growing fond of her tender table manners. Not only does she put less on her plate than many of us, she is always the last to finish. As we all eat, she happily takes a bite, chews slowly, and discusses the day and life’s memories in between. How lovely is it to sit and enjoy a meal? Not just the food itself, but the people eating together, and the discussions created among us during the meal.
Changing your attitude is one small adjustment that makes a world of difference. One of the lessons for living I’ve learned from our elders is to maintain a high level of emotional intelligence. They’ve learned through the years that most upsets are not worth the upset at all – the calm is always more precise and powerful than the storm.
During times of struggle, our elders have always been resolute to raise their head, count their blessings, and look toward the good things to come. They have witnessed more “depression” than we could probably ever imagine, but what do they focus on? They focus on the positive; our elders hold the wisdom of how precious time really is. They’re up early in the morning and thankful to be alive, talking happily with people they know and waiting for that next family visit.
Countless stories have been shared from generations past about the sights of the world. Our elders have been all over this planet sightseeing, making history and meeting new people. Experience also comes from that.
Today, with the cost of living and busy life, travel isn’t as often and may mostly come from a Google Map or photo from Facebook. However, travel is beautiful and everyone should have the opportunity to experience it in some capacity. Even if it is not something extravagant or costly, it’s important to take time and do something new “It’s very interesting to see all the different types of people.”
My grandma, at 82, still travels to visit us. In fact, she will bravely opt to independently venture on a Greyhound bus back home! Regardless of any reservations about her taking an interstate bus ride, she will remind me in her soft and peaceful voice, “I enjoy taking the bus. I get to meet every type of person you could imagine – all colors, ages, nationalities and backgrounds… . It’s very interesting to see all the different types of people.”
Our world is an amazing place with an incredible spectrum of personality. There are amazing people and experiences available everywhere, but much like a rainbow, you have to see them just right for their true beauty to be revealed. Welcome new experiences and locations – they’re going to change your life and add a new dimension of richness.
So, there you are, 5 Great lessons for living from our elders. These are things I have personally learned from my grandma – a family photo of her and I are on the left. I could actually write dozens more, but that would turn into a book.