The Happiness Connection  

Connecting with the past

Although my ancestors have lived in Canada for many generations, their ancestors came from different parts of Europe.

I have frequently made detours while travelling, in hopes of finding information about them, and seeing where they lived.

A week or so ago, I walked down a muddy track in a remote part of Scotland to stand on the spot where my McLean and Bell fore family lived.

Their village no longer exists, but I felt a sense of peace and satisfaction as I stood on the path they would have walked daily.

While I breathed in the sights, my husband navigated his way through muddy puddles, reached through a wire fence and retrieved a rock from the fallen wall of an old building; a piece of my ancestry to take home.

Why did finding a connection to my family roots make me feel so contented? What does connecting with past have to do with happiness?

Social Connection

Humans are programmed to be social. We are far stronger as part of a group than we are as individuals. To help encourage us to work with others, we are hardwired to seek companionship, and to be accepted as part of the group.

Connection is commonly thought about in terms of the present, who you surrounded by, and what are you doing?

Connection with people in our past also satisfies this biological need to be part of a unit.

I love watching the television series, Who Do You Think You Are? It never ceases to amaze me how the same traits that are displayed by the celebrities today are in evidence many generations earlier.

Being Part of a Bigger Picture

Another reason for finding satisfaction from connecting with your ancestors is the positive feelings you get from seeing yourself as being part of a bigger picture.

Being one drop of water is nowhere near as powerful as being one of many drops. Together those drops can save a life, water crops, or sustain a world.

You are more than just one person in the universe, you are a member of a huge family unit that goes back thousands of years.

I remember seeing a photograph of the double wedding of my two times great aunts, and seeing the same shape and size of eyes that my children and I have.

Seeing my eyes in a person who lived in the 1800s gave me a sense of belonging that was more intense than anything I felt from looking at a census record.

Stepping out of your comfort zone to live in the moment

If your ancestors come from different parts of the world, going to visit their homeland involves stepping away from your everyday life.

I passionately believe that travel broadens the mind.

Experiencing a different culture and environment encourages you to view life in a slightly way; to see the world from a different perspective.

It is always valuable to see how other people live.

Because you are venturing into the unknown, you can’t put yourself on autopilot, like you might in your every-day life. A new environment forces you to live in the moment.

Even if you are in a place that speaks the same language, their expressions and way of doing things are likely to be different.

Try crossing a busy road in England where the cars are on the opposite side of the road to North America. Autopilot crossing is not an option.

Travel encourages living in the moment; connecting with your ancestors gives you a feeling of connections and being part of a bigger picture.

Connection, mindfulness, and being part of a bigger picture are all aspects of the modelling happiness precepts that lead to a greater sense of wellbeing.

If you have any interest in connecting with your roots, enjoy the experience, with the understanding that you are not only learning more about your family, you are also boosting your happiness.

More The Happiness Connection articles

About the Author

Reen Rose is an experienced, informative, and engaging speaker, author, and educator. She has worked for over three decades in the world of education, teaching children and adults in Canada and England.

Research shows that happy people are better leaders, more successful, and healthier than their unhappy counterparts, and yet so many people still believe that happiness is a result of their circumstances.

Happiness is a choice. Reen’s presentations and workshops are designed to help you become robustly happy. This is her term for happiness that can withstand challenge and change.

Reen blends research-based expertise, storytelling, humour, and practical strategies to both inform and inspire. She is a Myers Briggs certified practitioner, a Microsoft Office certified trainer and a qualified and experienced teacher.

Email Reen at [email protected]

Check out her websites at www.ReenRose.com, or www.ModellingHappiness.com

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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