And I'm so glad I did! We had a blast. Once I got there, I found myself smiling (a lot), laughing, chatting with relative I hadn't seen since Christmas, and having a grand time. But the best part was meeting the cousin. This is someone I'd never never heard of before, let alone met, and we had a great deal in common. She enjoys traveling, like me, and we spent a large part of the afternoon talking about the places we've been and the places we long to see. We even tentatively planned an upcoming trip together.
I was tired when I finally got gome, but I was so glad that I had decided to go. In my ususual way, I decided to see if there were any scientific reasons why this previously thought-of unpleasant activity should turn out to make me feel really, really good. As it turns out, there are several reasons that explained why I was experiencing happiness and a deeper sense of connectedness.
Did you know that being a parent, especially a mom, has been linked to living longer? It does. Moms who have given birth to their own tadpoles...I mean children...usually live, on average, four times longer than those who remain childless. And they live 50% longer than those women who adopt a child. I'm glad to know that my being around will help to keep my mom around a nice long while. But this doesn't just work for moms, either. Research shows us that having stronger social connections, like families, helps us to live longer, as well...up to 50% longer.
Research has proven that having a sister can improve your mental health by decreasing lonliness, by increasing self esteem, and by lessening fears. Humans who grow up with at least one sister, studies show, are generally happier and more balanced than those who don't. But that doesn't mean that having a brother, like I do, doesn't help. Have a sibling of either gender makes us more apt to do good deeds. Siblings, it turns out, foster charitable attitudes even more than loving parent!
Being part of a supportive family helps you to have healthier habits, too. We tend to make better nutritional choices when we have loving family members around us. If family and friends support our healthy eating and lifestyle goals, we're far more apt to stay with them, than if we are left to our own devices.
Having a heart-to-heart chat with mom has been shown to lower our stress levels. I know that when I have a problem, talking to mom always makes me feel better. It's wonderful to know that someone cares and is here for me. And won't judge me, no matter what I tell her. Thank you, Mom!
I also learned that children who bond well with their mother, or primary caregiver, early in life, are far less likely to become obsese in their teens. Learning to love and have self-care is an important lesson that moms teach their children from birth. It through our mothers that we learn to love and trust others, as well as ourselves.
If you come from a large and loving family, like me, be thankful for them. Not everyboy is as lucky. So the next time you get invited to a family gathering, and you don't want to go, try thinking of it as a trip to the gym; you rarely want to go there, but you always feel so much better afterwards. The same is true of spending time with family. Who knows, you might even enjoy yourself! (And don't forget to give Mom a hug.) Tell her Irwin says "Hi."