Researchers have confirmed what parents have known for a long time: Sharing a family meal is good for the spirit, the brain, and the health of all family members. Anne Fishel, PhD, cofounder of Harvard’s Family Dinner Project
Thirty-five years ago, my son, Dan, returned home from junior high and asked, “Did you know that most families don’t eat dinner together?” Apparently, his health teacher had asked how many in the class regularly had dinner with their families and he was only one of about three to raise his hand. He just assumed everyone ate dinner together every night. All these years later, the family dinner is even more of a relic.
Yet, research links family dinner with lower rates of substance abuse, depression, better grades and enhanced self-esteem. Here are a few tips to make family dinner happen.
1. Make the commitment. Start with one meal, find a date that works, and put it on everyone’s calendar.
2. Keep the food simple. Even healthy take-out, when eaten together, is a step.
3. Make the meal time fun. This isn’t a time for grilling kids about grades or family arguments. Stash the phones, look at one another, and laugh a lot!
Affirmation: My family benefits when we eat together.
Coaching questions: What keeps your family from eating meals together? What can you do to change this circumstance at least once a week? How will you get buy-in from the others? How committed are you?
A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The person who never reads lives only one. George R.R. Martin, author and creator of Game of Thrones
Today, I challenge you to put down your smart phone, turn off the tv, give the video game controller to your whiny little sister, and pick up a book. Not just any book, a good book. One that has a topic or story line that interests you. A book that tickles your imagination or challenges your thinking.
Did you know reading improves your concentration? It also improves discipline, memory, and builds self-esteem. It helps relieve stress and makes you more empathetic. You’ll have a better vocabulary and you’ll live longer if you’re a reader. I didn’t make this up. These facts are borne out by research and the World Literacy Foundation. I’m with Groucho Marx who said, “I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.” Way to go, Groucho.
Affirmation: I love to read.
Coaching questions: If you’re not a reader, what keeps you from it? How might reading enrich your life? If you are a reader, how will you share your love of reading with another person?
Photo by Ben White on Unsplash
There are many things of which a wise man might wish to be ignorant. Ralph Waldo Emerson, American essayist
A 2017 study published in Journal of Affective Disorders found that the more time 18-22 year-olds spent on social media the more likely they were to have symptoms of anxiety. You may not be in that age group, but at any age social media can be eroding your self-esteem and increasing your anger and frustration quotient. And it’s not just social media. Having a phone pinging all day, interrupting your thoughts, conversations, and work isn’t doing you any favors either.
If you think you are being negatively influenced by media, set aside time everyday to disconnect. Start with small increments. Consider being phone-free during meals, the last hour before bed, during your daily quiet time. Your friends, family, and self-esteem will thank you.
Affirmation: I can power down.
Coaching questions: Take a moment to consider your social media and smart phone habits. How are they contributing to your overall well-being? What’s working, what isn’t? Will you take the challenge to power down during certain times of the day? What difference might it make?
One of the greatest lessons of my own life was learning to turn the inner rampage of hatred and anger toward my own father for his reprehensible behavior and abandonment of his family into an inner reaction more closely aligned with God and God-realized love. Wayne Dyer, American philosopher, self-help author, and motivational speaker
Sometimes the quote says it all. This is one of those stand-alone quotes that expresses the results of a lifetime of inner work and faith. Accepting and recognizing the reality of devastating behavior but choosing to not live a life filled with hatred and anger is a difficult transformation.
Daughters who were abandoned by their mothers frequently had a more difficult recovery than those whose mothers died. The “One Purpose” loss, as I call it, is devastating to a daughter’s self esteem and personal growth. And yet…like Dyer, I spoke with many women who had not only recovered but thrived after getting past their anger, sadness, disappointment, or hatred.
Affirmation: I can overcome.
Coaching questions: What negative experience and bad feelings are you hanging onto? What’s a step you can take to let go of the negativity without excusing the behavior? What difference will living in a more loved-filled space make in your life?