2018 New Year’s Resolutions Focusing on Feelings That Span A Lifetime Will Bring Us Joy

GraffitiFor New Years 2017, this Grandma wrote “2017 New Year’s Resolutions Focusing on Feelings That Span A Lifetime Will Bring Us Joy.”  When I sat down to write this year’s message, the draft mirrored 2017.  I realized that sharing the 2017 feelings was a most overwhelming task for me, and opened up on memories that were difficult and remain difficult to share.  However, there is not one more blog post that is more important to me and important for me to pass along for 2018, as momentous a year full of upheaval and uncertainty it has been for all of us:

In this new era of seeking and collecting experiences instead of things, the articles about proposed 2018 New Year’s resolutions that touched this Grandma were more about feelings than goals.  Each year, beginning at the end of December, the ads for exercise facility discounts and diet centers proliferate.  Each year, I agree that I will do whatever is in vogue that year to lose weight and, more difficult, attempt to keep it off.  It is an admirable goal, after holiday indulgences, but unfortunately short lived.  Studies show that most New Year’s resolutions are short lived. That is how the exercise facilities and diet centers make money isn’t it? So, this year, let’s consider 2018 New Year’s resolutions that address feelings, like happiness and gratitude, and family, more long term than a few months.  Let’s consider resolutions that will span our lifetime.

I have written about my Mother, GG (great grandmother), a Holocaust survivor, who every night asked me three questions and led me to thought provoking challenges and a lifetime of change and development.  In this 2018 New Year of resolutions concentrating on feelings as its own goal, I know I did not appreciate the positive aspects of these questions nor the positive impact of the Mother and child discussions on my life during my childhood. Maybe they can shed light on 2018 New Year’s resolutions on feelings.  My Mother’s questions are profound in hindsight.  They lead me to appreciate and be grateful for each day every day of my life.  My mother faced death every day of her teenage years, and I thought her questions dealt with that darkness.  I did not then realize that her questions were to keep me in the light, the light of life.

Her first question was, did I help someone that day, because if people did not help her during the Holocaust, she would not have survived.  Knowing that I was going to be asked that question each night, as a child, I made sure to help someone each day and to remember it to repeat it to her quickly.  She did not let me off the hook that easily. She would inquire if the act truly helped the person and how.  According to my Mother’s teaching, the act of helping was not meaningful unless it served the needs of those I thought I was trying to help, not my need to please my mother and get off the hook with her.  She has led me to a place of truly understanding the meaning of helping, of true kindness and assistance to others.

Each of my several careers have been in what may be considered a helping profession and  professions in which the skills of insightfulness, kindness, and caring could assist in my success. In this New Year 2018, I appreciate that my Mother concentrated on feelings rather than just a goal, although as a child, I could not know the gift she gave me.

My Mother’s second question was, was I happy that day, because a Hitler and the Nazis could come tomorrow and I might never have a tomorrow.  We would not only go over the experience that I said made me happy, but also why.  We went over the meaning of happiness, and how having a family was a true source of happiness.  She shared her memories of her childhood and her large family, and their murders too.  Yes, some were nightmarish.  One was how happy she was in one of the five concentration camps in which she was imprisoned to be there when her sister was dying of typhus, that she was there to hold her sister in her arms as her sister died, so her sister could have that comfort of being in loving arms as she died in that hellish place, both of them starving and covered with vermin. My mother survived typhus in that unfathomable place and time, I know not how other than her spirit gave her the strength to come through. The power of positive feelings can sustain life and span a lifetime, my Mother taught me by example.

As a child, my family circle was smaller than anyone I knew.  My Mother had no family that survived the Holocaust, and she was the only survivor of her entire village.  She kept her circle small.  My Father had only a brother and sister who survived and no other aunts, uncles, cousins, either.  I grew up with only two cousins in my generation. My focus has been my family for happiness, like hers, to be the glue that binds immediate family together and binds our small extended family together.  Happiness has a deeper meaning for me thanks to my Mother.  Finding happiness can be in the small joys of life that one can find every day.  We should not wait for happiness to descend upon us, we have to search for the happiness and make our own happiness each day.  I am especially grateful for each small occurrence of happiness in daily life. I owe my own thankfulness to the teachings of my Mother.

Studies now show that gratitude brings happiness, and, during my childhood, I did not realize that my mother taught me the connection between gratitude and happiness.  If one of your feeling resolutions for 2018 is to be grateful for a small occurrence of happiness each day, and reflecting on gratitude and happiness at the end of each day, consider bringing that skill to your grandchildren and passing the link to the parents of your grandchildren. There is a great New York Times article on ways to do that for children by Ron Lieber.  Here is the link to “How to Start a Year-Round Family Gratitude Ritual.”

In this 2018 New Year, I appreciate that my Mother concentrated on feelings rather than just a goal, that she taught me the true meaning of happiness and gratitude, although as a child, I could not appreciate the gift she gave me.

My Mother’s third question was did I use every minute and do my best ever minute of every day as a Hitler and the Nazis could come tomorrow and I would not have another day in my life.  According to my Mother, without warning, I could have everything taken from me, all my family, all my friends, all my possessions, and all I would have was my brain and what was in it. She instilled in me that I had to not only appreciate each day of life, but live each day as if it were my last day alive, do my best and use every moment as if there were no tomorrow.  My Mother shared that she was thrown out of school and not allowed to attend school during the Holocaust.  She would go over everything I learned that day and what a privilege it was to be allowed to learn. Yes, I was the nerd who always sat in the first row in the classroom and paid rapt attention to every teacher.  After all, as a child, I believed my Mother that I might get thrown out of school at any time and not allowed to learn.  Her teachings have led me to a lifetime of learning something new each day and using what new things I have learned in my daily life.

Each of my answers to the three questions was met with what then felt like smothering hugs and kisses from my Mother, which I now appreciate as the affirmation that the love of a Mother for a child is unconditional and unending.  I now understand how precious a living child was for a Holocaust survivor, that one could look to the possibilities of a better future life, having survived a horrific past.  I tell my grandchildren that I love them to infinity and beyond, and I think of my Mother.

Because of these and other childhood experiences and being the child of Holocaust survivors, yes, I became an overachiever, learning everything I could, embracing change as well as growth and development.  I also became a survivor. I almost feel that I have accomplished what my Mother instilled, that I have lived several lives in one, taking advantage of everything life can offer one, living for at least five other family members whose lives were cut short.  What felt like a burden when I was a child, is now the recognized gift my Mother gave me, the privilege of appreciating life and living life to its fullest every day.  Today still, at the end of each day, I review how grateful I am for having lived the day, having been happy at some point in that day, having had all the experiences and love in that day, and that it is therefore okay if it is my last day on this earth.

As my Mother taught me, we must concentrate on the journey of life, as the destination will always be death.

Of the several articles on different 2018 New Year’s resolutions I read, only one resonated with me at this point in my life, having lived long years.  The message that resonated with me most was not in its ultimate political message, and it was a political piece with a particular political viewpoint, but in how the author expressed her feelings in reaching her particular message.  Another gift from my Mother is the willingness to listen to and learn all points of view, whether I ultimately agree or not. In our wonderful and amazing country, we celebrate diversity and diverse opinions and all Americans are just ordinary people seeking their version of, and opinions on, happiness and joy.

The author, Katie Yoder, a staff writer for the Media Research Center’s Culture and Media Institute, has some powerful messages about feelings for the New Year 2018.  She states that to have no regrets, we must first learn to live with no regrets.  She quotes a palliative nurse from Australia who “recorded her dying patients’ most common regrets in her book, “The Top Five Regrets of the Dying.” She listed their main disappointments as:”

“I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”

“I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.”

“I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.”

“I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.”

“I wish that I had let myself be happier.”

I thank Katie Yoder for the gift of the courage to express my feelings again in this blog post, the first of New Year 2018.

She states further, “Be a fearless you, appreciate life, and focus on relationships: That’s how the dying wished to live.”

“The fear of death follows from the fear of life,” writer Mark Twain tells us, and, “A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.”

She and Mark Twain sound like my Mother talking about life.

The author quoted her five resolutions for New Year 2017 for the audience she was trying to reach and for herself:

“‘Go home (and not just for the holidays). Set aside time for family and friends — people who remind us of who we are and who we want to be.”

“Know your neighbors. Listen to what they care about, and share your thoughts with them.”

“Attend church or another house of worship. Sit in a pew, listen to a sermon, understand Americans who cite a creed above politics and agendas.”

“Absorb beauty. Read a book, visit an art gallery, climb a mountain top.”

“Give to others. Not just money. Send a letter of thanks to a soldier or a note of encouragement to a prisoner.”

She said, “We must learn about death and what is worth dying for because, in doing so, we learn about life and what makes life worth living. For me, that’s my faith, my family, my friends, my country, and, I might add, kindness wrapped in a box of chocolates.”

I am not as presumptuous as the author to give anyone the resolutions each must follow for feelings in 2018, just to consider the power of making feeling resolutions for 2018 for yourself and with your grandchildren.  Here is the link to the article that contains the above, if you are interested.  http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2016/12/31/5-new-years-resolutions-for-our-out-touch-media-hint-start-with-some-chocolate.html

Also, if you are interested or inclined, post this message for New Year 2018 on Face Book, pass this post on, not only to the parents of your grandchildren, but also to five family members, friends or colleagues close to you, and “like” a few of  2018 posts on Face Book.  Hopefully, family and friends will consider 2018 New Year’s resolutions in a different way this year, that they too may benefit from feeling resolutions of gratitude and happiness that may carry them forward for a lifetime.

That, and kindness and sweetness, yes, like a box of chocolates (from Katie Yoder and this chocoholic Grandma), will make this New Year of 2018, no matter your political affiliation or concerns, by shifting focus and goals to family, home, kindness, happiness, and gratitude, a year of feelings of





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