Sunday, April 18, 2010

What matters most to you?

What matters most to you?

Have you ever asked yourself the question what matters most for you? I guess we all may have different answers. What I know is that it makes sense to think about it. Because if you know what matters most to you, then you can do something about it. You can focus your time, resources and energy on these important priorities that mean a lot to you.

Let me share with you what matters most for me. The three things that are most important for me are:
1. My family
2. My relationships
3. My work

My guess is that family matters to all of us. Our happiness is greatly enhanced if we have a happy and healthy family where everyone loves, respect and trust each other. The secret for a happy and healthy family is being there for each other in a loving and caring way in good and bad times. Society would be much better off if each family learns and implements this simple principle. Barbara Bush once said “Your success as a family, our success as a country depends not on what happens in the White House, but on what happens inside your house”

In my family, attendance at dinner time is very important, so the excuses better be very good ones. Personally, dinner time is one of the most important family gatherings, where we share our stories, successes, disappointments and hopes. That’s where a lot of the family bonding take places and last for the rest of our life.

Secondly, relationship matters. For me, life is simply a series of relationship that I make along my journey through life. These loving relationships enrich my life, and help to make my life more interesting and meaningful. Without the relationship with my family, loved ones, friends and colleagues, my life would not be very interesting and exciting. We support and help each other in our celebrations and sorrows. Relationship is the spice of life! Think about all the lovely people you have met in your life to date and how each of them have contributed to make your life that much happier.

Thirdly, work matters. Your work allows you to earn a good living and to contribute to your family and to society at large. Through my salary, I can provide for the financial needs of my family and loved ones. My work environment is a rich place to develop lasting and meaningful relationships too. My job and profession also gives me an opportunity to make the most of my potential.

In conclusion, the three things that matter most to me are my family, my relationships and my work. I owe a lot of thanks and gratitude to my family, my friends and my employers for assisting me to be what I am today.

So do you know what matters most to you? Are you really putting enough time, resources and energy to nurture and enhance them? If not, what are you waiting for? After all, these are what matters most to you!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Emulate the qualities of healthy families


A healthy and happy family life occupies a high priority for the majority of us. Most people have grown up with their families. Children develop their own values primarily from the models their parents provide. Most of us parents do a pretty good job of teaching our children values such as love, respect, compassion, honesty, forgiveness, hard work and concern for others. The problem is that those values are not necessarily being reinforced by society and by what people watch on television and internet. As a parent, if you want to instill these values in your children you have to take the leadership yourself rather than rely on teachers, religious leaders or the entertainment media.
Telecommunications, computers and iPods are further isolating us from community family members. Many teenagers now own cellular phones, iPhones, iPods, and computers. They are spending hours talking or texting back and forth with their friends. Some are addicted to their PlayStations and other video games. They are posting their photos, information and thoughts on Facebook. People, especially adolescents and young adults, spend hours every week chatting on the internet, using instant messaging programs or social networking websites. Small computer devices and wireless laptops make it easy for people to engage in technological activities wherever they go. Busy professionals and parents take their BlackBerries home and spend extra hours doing office work. Ipods are very popular with young people, and they spend hours listening to their large music collection and even watch videos through the earphones and tiny screens of these devices.
In many communities, there is a real breakdown in the basis of interpersonal life. In our quest for privacy and individual rights, we are starting to sever the links between family and community and even between family members. The influence of the family is declining because of many factors such as:

· Parents do not have as much time for their children as they once did;
· Many supports for parents have just disappeared;
· Approximately fifty per cent of all North American marriages end in divorce or separation;
· The peer group is becoming our children's reference point;
· A lot of children are getting their values and beliefs from watching television.

Twenty years ago, family members worked an average of 45 hours a week outside the home. Nowadays more than fifty per cent of North American households have two full-time income-earners. In these families, both parents are breadwinners working a total of 65 to 80 hours a week outside the home. Single-parent families and blended families experience similar, if not worse, working hours and related stress. Natural communities in the neighbourhoods and churches have broken down in many cases. People are moving more often such that close relatives, friends and extended families are sometimes too far away to help. Fewer people are participating in the activities of the religious institutions. Once the children move into the school system, the peer group is more likely to become their dominant influence by emphasizing instant self-gratification. Our desire for privacy has isolated us from one another so much that children often have few role models to teach them that reality is different from what they learn from their peers or see on television. By age 18, the average Canadian would have watched 12,000 hours of television, twice as much as he has spent in a classroom. As a consequence of this massive exposure, the family is beginning to borrow its values from the media and more particularly from television.
With all these constraints, what can you do to rejuvenate your family influence? You can emulate the qualities of healthy families which are:

Positive and healthy attitudes;
Good balance in their activities and goals;
Management skills;
Emotional maturity;
Free and open communication;
Ability to perceive the world very clearly;

Healthy families extend positive attitudes in all spheres of their lives, encouraging enthusiasm, confidence and excellence. They live with purpose knowing where they want to go and how to get there. They are involved in their communities. Relaxation, leisure and enjoyment are always part of their goals. They know when it is time to stop working and play a little, thus avoiding fatigue and irritability. Family activities are very important priorities: picnics, holidays, sports, fairs, cultural events and social outings. They have lots of games and playing time with each other at all stages of their lives. They read a lot to their young children and introduce them to the pleasure and discovery of reading for themselves. They have a family structure, with parents in a strong and equal coalition, prepared to lay down the law if they have to, but always consulting fully with the children.
The members of healthy and functional families know in their hearts that they are loved by their families, even if they occasionally forget to take the time to express it. They pay close attention to how they behave toward each other, toward their children, among the siblings and toward themselves. In healthy families, siblings learn to share and cooperate with one another. As members of functional families, they learn to give and take and to compromise for the good of the family. They know what is important for their families and put their effort accordingly. While no family will ever be perfectly functional, healthy families can deal fairly well with problems, crises and suffering that life and fate will present to them. Some of the worst problems that some members of families are facing are unemployment, financial crisis, alcoholism, drug abuse, sexual abuse, physical and emotional abuse, and gambling addiction. If you find yourself in such a situation, seek help immediately from members of your family or other people you respect and trust. There are also many agencies like Alcoholics Anonymous, anti-addiction organizations, community help centres, government departments, crisis centres and volunteer groups in your area who are very helpful. Family members facing and coping with these problems need intensive human and spiritual support, love, care and empathy. If it is warranted and you can afford it, have professional counselling and advice.
While members of healthy families enjoy each other's loving companionship, they have a degree of emotional independence which allows them both intimacy and their own space. They cherish each other's company and attention while being able to enjoy themselves when they are away from their family without feeling guilty. They may have mutual interests and goals but they do not attach themselves emotionally to one another nor become dependent on each other completely. They are strong and independent people while being able to give and receive help when needed. They encourage each other to grow to their full potential in all spheres of life. They believe in progress and in the possibility of their personal growth and development. They can communicate openly and freely with each other with honesty and trust. Not only do they talk to each other but they also listen to each other and respect the individual's views. They can share their feelings and troubles openly, as well as listen to others with empathy.
The parents of healthy families share their values and beliefs with their children. They provide a family structure with roles and rules which are flexible and negotiable in certain circumstances. They empower their children by giving them responsibility and stewardship of increasing importance as they learn and grow. They tell them what they find acceptable and unacceptable in their behaviour. They confront and criticize their children when it is necessary, just as they will accept criticism from them. Effective parents expose their children to a variety of social situations encouraging them to mix with others. They do their best to instill acceptable social behaviours and habits into their children.
These parents teach the children to talk openly about their feelings and problems. All members are allowed to express what they feel, think and need. The parents encourage each other and their children to understand that none of the feelings and emotions they experience are unacceptable or forbidden, giving a feeling of freedom to being themselves. Empathizing is their approach to a lot of their problems. They have the ability to perceive the world very clearly, coping quite readily with changes. Rather than unplug the television, these parents watch television with their children and give them a brush on reality. They believe in allowing their children to embark on their own paths of progression with some guidance when asked or when appropriate. They will try to help their children through painful moments and crisis but they know that they can never live their lives for them nor do they want to. All they can do is to give their support, reassurance and love. Try to emulate these qualities of healthy families in your own family.

Extract from my book: Become your Best