Happiness Runs In Our Family
Many years ago — early 1990’s, I was watching an episode of The Oprah Show. (Source of all knowledge , wisdom and good will next to God) Oprah had a guest on that day, an older woman with vast wisdom and success as a poet. Turns out it was Maya Angelou- whom I had never heard of prior to The Oprah Show.
I had flipped the channel in the middle of the show and didn’t catch the entire discussion. I’m sure she had been talking about her poetry or perhaps a new self help- peace- love — be a good person book . As I tuned in, Ms. Angelou was talking about how a specific illness ran in her family and that she didn’t like how family member would lament about their fate- to be sick. They were convinced the same illness would befall them because it ran in their family. She was commenting on the growing commonality of this perspective .
I was captivated by her soothing voice and logic.
With the growing field of genetic science (20 years later)- we know we have predisposing genes ( DNA) that might/can/will increase our risk for a certain disease or illness which may appear to confirm this belief “ it runs in our family.” But when you study epigenetics, you will find that in addition to predisposition of risk, how our genes express themselves can be changed by external events, injuries or traumas.
It is this very epigenetic switch which can be triggered by our thoughts and beliefs: “ this runs in my family”. We belief it so it must be true… and thus (sweeping generality) we think ourselves sick.
I realized that I had heard people say this very thing as it related to cancer, diabetes, or being fat. I had heard it in my own family — but I hadn’t believed it. I thought it was stupid to believe such a thing — to be doomed or destined to the notion of “diabetes or cancer runs in my family.”
I now paid more attention to how we thought and spoke. “I can’t do that” “ I’m not good with money” “I’m tired” “blood is shooting out my eye.”
There have been many studies since that Oprah show, that confirms negative or positive perceptions do impact our health and well being. It’s not a new subject as Holy Scriptures address the issue of thoughts…and Buddha.
“The mind is everything. What you think you become.” Buddha
“ As [a person] thinks in his heart, so is he.” Proverbs 23:7 NKJV
The power of suggestion, the power of how you think and the influence of negative thoughts was always interesting to me and I listened, wondering if the negative was true — what about the positive?
If holding the perception of a disease running in my family had the power to actually make me sick because I thought about it all the time,because now I believed I was destined to being sick, wouldn’t the same logic apply to the positive — that my body was healthy and my DNA would not allow any illness to stay, to become chronically my destiny.
I thought more and more about this — A few days after this I was listening to my teenage boys bickering and tormenting the younger children (typical). And it occurred to me that if I wanted ANYTHING to run in my family it would be happiness.
Could I create a belief that would impact how the little monsters behaved toward each other? Would it make any difference?
So I walked up to the boys and instead of yelling and screaming at them, grounding them to the basement — I gently put my arms around them and said “Happiness runs in our family “ and walked away. Of course they were stunned. They just stood there and said “what…?”
“Happiness runs in our family” I repeated with a lilt to my squeaky mom voice.
In that instant, I was so into myself and proud of my incredible stroke of genius…brilliance on the front lines of parenthood.
They stopped arguing and walked away. BINGO ! I had struck gold. Every time there was discontent, I just kept saying it. It wasn’t perfect but it definitely changed the mood in our house. The children got along better, they were more amiable, more generous toward each other.
Yes, it’s cheesy and nerdy.
It became our family motto, Happiness Runs in Our Family. I started making signs with their pictures to hang over the door which continues to this day- even though the kids are all grown and raising their own families now.
Did it protect us from arguments, teasing and tormenting? No, but it did minimize the damage in an argument and there was a sizable shift on the peace front. And what it did do was improve the harmony in our home, we had more joyfulness and good will towards each other.
Happiness does run in our family … no matter what happens, no matter whose feelings are hurt, no matter who is the stupid one or the careless one or the drunk or the irresponsible one. There is happiness. We do recover, we do have joy and we are more resilient and rarely is anyone sick — an epigenetic benefit of our intentions. Happiness is a choice.
I understand that many people have great adversity in their lives. I know that many are in unhappy family situations or have a difficult past and this may appear polly-anish and unattainable. But it is — even if you are the only one in your family. Creating a practice of happiness for yourself will help grow resilience and hopefulness to the forefront of your thinking.
“You are what you believe yourself to be “ Paulo Coelho
I believe that families are forever and should be honored and protected with uplifting, loving, encouraging, re-enforcing armor against discontent and even evil. That is what happiness does.
Let happiness run in your family starting today — take it and pass it along.