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Quality of Life: Let your inner child out this holiday season

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Quality of LifeWhen I was eight years old, my aunt and uncle invited our family to their house to watch “The Wizard of Oz.” They had a color TV, and we didn’t. I still remember how excited I was on the evening that we went to their home. My aunt cooked a wonderful dinner and then we all crowded around their television to watch the show. When Dorothy landed in Oz, and the film changed from black and white to color, I was beside myself. It was so beautiful. Glinda, the good witch, wore the loveliest dress I had ever seen in my life and it even sparkled! And while the Wicked Witch of the West scared me nearly to death, I thought her green face was pretty cool. The whole experience of seeing that movie at their house that evening was one I have never forgotten.

I often think about how great it would be to continue to experience life with that kind of wonder and enthusiasm. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to live every moment in color, instead of black and white?

I suppose I’m pondering this because we are approaching the holiday season and for the last several years, that kind of true joy, that deep-down, authentic, “touches you at the gut level” joy, has been missing from my holiday celebrations. In part, it is because grown-up obligations have supplanted the carefree life of youth, but I think it also has to do with a tendency to view life through gray-colored glasses.

So, here are some ideas for bringing joy back into your life during the holiday season.

Give a gift to yourself: What is it that you need most? Time? A break? A party? Make a commitment to do something nice for you and you alone. If this is hard for you, pretend you are doing it for someone else. Even if it just means being your own best friend and accepting yourself with less criticism and fewer unrealistic expectations. If you can bring tidings of comfort and joy to yourself, then you are well on your way to spreading joy to others.

Give a gift from the heart, not the wallet: You don’t have to purchase a gift for everyone — you can make something, or give of your time. Put together a packet of favorite family recipes, or give a homemade gift certificate for an invitation to your home to watch the big game, complete with snacks, dinner, beer, whatever. Most people appreciate a gift of spending time, rather than money. When you give away something of yourself, the space that is left will be filled with joy.

Allow yourself to feel joyful: Here’s a wild concept — give yourself permission to feel joy — to act like a kid — to try seeing the world with new eyes. The first step toward bringing joy into your life is actively hoping that you will feel it. Spend some time imagining what joy would feel like. Open yourself up to the idea of being happy. Start telling your brain about joy and it will begin to recognize it. Give yourself permission to stop thinking about your work and your obligations long enough to identify joy.

Nurture your creativity: When I was little, every Thanksgiving, Mom would find some kind of creative project for us to do. One year we made turkeys out of old Reader’s Digest magazines. We folded the pages, spray painted them brown, added a head, some feet and a few feathers – it was great. I was really proud of my turkey. While you may not feel inclined to do that, there are other creative outlets that you could pursue. Have you ever gone to Wine & Canvas, or a similar place where you can paint a picture in three hours flat? No talent required. They walk you through it, step by step. It is truly gratifying to see the finished product. Give yourself three hours of creativity this holiday season. Better yet, share the experience with a friend or family member.

Pay attention: Notice the colors of the flowers, the sky and the trees. Listen to the sounds of traffic, holiday songs, children playing, people laughing – think Silver Bells. Focus on what is around you with a view toward finding the beauty in it.

If you try some of these activities, not only will it brighten the lives of others, it will brighten yours as well.•

__________

Jonna Kane MacDougall, an Indianapolis attorney, is assistant dean for external affairs and alumni relations at the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law and a former law school career services director. A professional career/life coach, MacDougall can be contacted at 317-775-1804 or via email at whatsnextcoaching@gmail.com. The opinions expressed in this column are the author’s.

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  1. I work with some older lawyers in the 70s, 80s, and they are sharp as tacks compared to the foggy minded, undisciplined, inexperienced, listless & aimless "youths" being churned out by the diploma mill law schools by the tens of thousands. A client is generally lucky to land a lawyer who has decided to stay in practice a long time. Young people shouldn't kid themselves. Experience is golden especially in something like law. When you start out as a new lawyer you are about as powerful as a babe in the cradle. Whereas the silver halo of age usually crowns someone who can strike like thunder.

  2. YES I WENT THROUGH THIS BEFORE IN A DIFFERENT SITUATION WITH MY YOUNGEST SON PEOPLE NEED TO LEAVE US ALONE WITH DCS IF WE ARE NOT HURTING OR NEGLECT OUR CHILDREN WHY ARE THEY EVEN CALLED OUT AND THE PEOPLE MAKING FALSE REPORTS NEED TO GO TO JAIL AND HAVE A CLASS D FELONY ON THERE RECORD TO SEE HOW IT FEELS. I WENT THREW ALOT WHEN HE WAS TAKEN WHAT ELSE DOES THESE SCHOOL WANT ME TO SERVE 25 YEARS TO LIFE ON LIES THERE TELLING OR EVEN LE SAME THING LIED TO THE COUNTY PROSECUTOR JUST SO I WOULD GET ARRESTED AND GET TIME HE THOUGHT AND IT TURNED OUT I DID WHAT I HAD TO DO NOT PROUD OF WHAT HAPPEN AND SHOULD KNOW ABOUT SEEKING MEDICAL ATTENTION FOR MY CHILD I AM DISABLED AND SICK OF GETTING TREATED BADLY HOW WOULD THEY LIKE IT IF I CALLED APS ON THEM FOR A CHANGE THEN THEY CAN COME AND ARREST THEM RIGHT OUT OF THE SCHOOL. NOW WE ARE HOMELESS AND THE CHILDREN ARE STAYING WITH A RELATIVE AND GUARDIAN AND THE SCHOOL WON'T LET THEM GO TO SCHOOL THERE BUT WANT THEM TO GO TO SCHOOL WHERE BULLYING IS ALLOWED REAL SMART THINKING ON A SCHOOL STAFF.

  3. Family court judges never fail to surprise me with their irrational thinking. First of all any man who abuses his wife is not fit to be a parent. A man who can't control his anger should not be allowed around his child unsupervised period. Just because he's never been convicted of abusing his child doesn't mean he won't and maybe he hasn't but a man that has such poor judgement and control is not fit to parent without oversight - only a moron would think otherwise. Secondly, why should the mother have to pay? He's the one who made the poor decisions to abuse and he should be the one to pay the price - monetarily and otherwise. Yes it's sad that the little girl may be deprived of her father, but really what kind of father is he - the one that abuses her mother the one that can't even step up and do what's necessary on his own instead the abused mother is to pay for him???? What is this Judge thinking? Another example of how this world rewards bad behavior and punishes those who do right. Way to go Judge - NOT.

  4. Right on. Legalize it. We can take billions away from the drug cartels and help reduce violence in central America and more unwanted illegal immigration all in one fell swoop. cut taxes on the savings from needless incarcerations. On and stop eroding our fourth amendment freedom or whatever's left of it.

  5. "...a switch from crop production to hog production "does not constitute a significant change."??? REALLY?!?! Any judge that cannot see a significant difference between a plant and an animal needs to find another line of work.

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