Monthly musing from Rebecca Crichton

During a recent discussion about child rearing, a good friend shared the most helpful advice she had ever received from a therapist: “Children need to feel useful.” It was a categorical recognition that even little kids like to feel that they have something they can do to feel they are part of their larger world: clearing the table, feeding the pet, loading the dishwasher. No matter how old we are, we want to feel useful. But, as we age, we are often told that we earned the right to just take it easy, to pursue leisure time activities, do nothing we don’t want to do and let others do the work of the world. Yet most research about what helps people feel good about themselves emphasizes the importance of being engaged in meaningful work, helping others, contributing our gifts.As older people, we do increasingly rely on others for help. But this does not mean that we are no longer useful to our world, though the nature of that usefulness changes. Our wisdom makes a difference to those around us; a smile or a hug can brighten even a stranger’s day. What makes you feel useful? Where in your life are your talents and energy wanted? Look around your world and the people who are part of it and think how to be a bigger part of the ongoing circle of giving and receiving! For myself, I am proud that NWCCA continues to supply resources to help you be independent and involved.

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