Tonight for dinner I am serving spaghetti, broccoli, and the topic ‘forgiveness.’ Sunday dinnertime has been coined at my house as “Self-Actualizing Sunday.” What is “Self- Actualizing Sunday” you might ask? Well it is inspired by the psychological theory of Self- Actualization, made famous by the psychologist Abraham Maslow, but originated by theorist Kurt Goldstein. Self- Actualization is a motivational state of meeting one’s full potential. As Goldstein explained, “the motive to realize one’s full potential, expressing one’s creativity, quest for spiritual enlightenment, pursuit of knowledge, and the desire to give to society…” (Wikipedia.org). With all of these points in mind we decided to set a time, once per week, to explore these possibilities with our children. Since it can be hard to have everyone sit down for a meal, we chose to make it a point to turn off all devices, talk, and feed are stomachs and souls.
Our family mission of “Self-Actualizing Sunday” is to work towards our full potential and achieve a full circle well-being in all aspects of life, through discussions on perspective and healthy choices. Why am I doing this; and what purpose does it serve? A significant amount of the illness and problems a health provider sees in the office starts with the results of chronic stress, anxiety, general discontentment, negative outlook and depression. All of these problems can lead to chronic health problems such as: heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, obesity, cancer, autoimmune disorders and susceptibility to illness such as colds and flu. In fact more than 60 percent of all human disease and illness are spring-boarded by stress, according to the American Medical Association ( Dr. Hanish Babu, MD 2007).
Why does chronic stress cause these problems? Stress causes your body to release certain hormones and inflammatory chemicals that are meant to be a means for survival, also known as the “fight or flight” response. This is a natural response when someone is in a dangerous situation, say getting a letter from the IRS, or a tiger approaching, (whichever is scarier) to help yourself survive. When your body is constantly being flooded with stress hormones and inflammatory chemicals it becomes a problem to one’s health because the immune system is affected. When the immune system is not proficient in regulating inflammation, it makes the body vulnerable to illness and diseases. (sciencedaily.com)
Not only does stress, depression, anxiety and a negative life perspective affect the cellular level of the body, it also can lead to making unhealthy choices. It is unfortunately very common for people to make unhealthy choices as a way to cope, or try to fill what they perceive is missing from their life. For example, getting involved with destructive friends and relationships, attention seeking, material possessions, over-spending, over-eating, escaping by sitting in front of the TV or computer for hours, drugs, alcohol, smoking, gambling, are all behaviors that can hinder well-being.
So “Self-Actualizing Sunday” is currently a “beta test” to see if myself, my husband and the kids can identify and try to live out our full potential. We have talked about love, self-awareness, contentment, leadership, money management, friendship, forgiveness, and hard work. We have also tried to model behavior of charity, exercise, humility and forgiveness to our kids, because no words can trump the power of actions. I get many ideas from our church conversations, websites, current news and books, but sometimes just life’s daily challenges are the topic of the day. If I am really ambitious I will try to come up with a game or creative way to discuss the topic. At times I feel that my husband and I are learning as much as the kids are, sometimes more. There have also been times where I think that my kids are ignoring us, but will be caught off guard when they say something profound, and let you know they were actually paying attention.
Lastly, mind and body are very much connected, and the way to help achieve a healthy body is to properly feed your mind. Knowledge is nourishment for the soul. So pass the salt and dash your conversations with topics about realizing your potential and working towards happiness.
I will Blog about our “Sunday’s” in the future. If anyone has an idea for a topic I would greatly appreciate if you would share them in the comment section below, or on Facebook. Who knows.. maybe our families can join in the “Self-Actualizing Sunday” conversation together.
Alicia Wettrick NP