emotional health, joy, happiness, gratefulness, love

How’s Your Emotional Capital?

How’s Your Emotional Capital?

© 2006 Wellness Clubs of America.com

The month of July 2002 was an eventful one for our family. Amitia and Alex experienced the birth of their first child, a beautiful little girl whom they named Abigail Anne. She will be known as Abbie.

Camille and Tim saw the birth of their second child, another girl, whom they named Natalia Chere. Three days later Camille graduated from the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine and became a doctor like her father.

The entire month was an emotional high. Joy, happiness and excitement melded with a feeling of tremendous accomplishment that will be remembered long into the future.

As I found myself immersed in the atmosphere surrounding each baby’s birth I found myself reflecting back to the countless hours I have spent counseling distraught families over the course of my career. Where, I asked myself, does the joy and excitement go when the moment has passed and 2:00 a.m. feedings are the rule? What happened to the happiness and sense of accomplishment in those all too common instances when children and parents find it impossible to talk to each other with respect and caring?

It would be wonderful, I mused as exuberant friends and family members stopped in to congratulate the parents and see the new babies, to be able to bottle this atmosphere and store it for the future. It would be as priceless as the gold, frankincense and myrrh lain before the Christ Child.

What would someone pay for a precious vial of joy and happiness that could be taken down from the shelf and sprinkled about during times of trial and testing? What would it be worth to be able to splash on a sense of pride and accomplishment when life seems mundane or when it is characterized not by ecstasy but by tragedy?

Those questions were validated by a memorial published in the Sunday Oklahoman just 5 days after Abbie’s birth. The column was headed by the picture of a strikingly attractive girl who appeared to be in her mid teens.

The poem had been written by her father. The carefully chosen words vividly conveyed his soul’s anguish over her untimely death, which had apparently been by suicide. The tremendous gulf that had since developed between he and her mother was also evident.

The memorial ended with a statement that he had died the same night he penned the words of the final verse. Although it was not explicitly stated, it implied that he had followed his daughter’s example and died by his own hand.

What happened to the joy he surely experienced at his daughter’s birth? What happened to the happiness, to the pride and to the delight he had once felt. Did it simply evaporate like the puddles from a summer rain or was it too little to balance the daily challenges of living?

Each of us, I concluded, needs an emotional savings account into which we make regular deposits. We need to be able to draw upon it when tough times come. We need to assure that in never runs dry.

A lady who worked in the Journal-Record building across the street from the Oklahoma City Murrah Federal building stated this eloquently after being injured and losing many of her friends in the bombing. “I don’t know,” she said uncertainly. “I don’t know that I have enough capital to get through this.”

Of all my earthly possessions I hold my emotional savings account most dear. It has been growing with compound interest for many years, and I’m confident that its balance is capable of sustaining me through the storms of life that are yet to come.

My emotional savings account did not grow by chance. I was careful to make regular deposits, and I continue to do so. Some were substantial, like my marriage, the birth of children and grandchildren, and the purchase of our home. Some were significant, such as the times I watched my children graduate from high school and college or the memories we generated on family vacations.

Many deposits, however, were small and seemed almost insignificant at the time, but today are cherished and safeguarded as precious jewels. The look of pride on my daughter’s faces as they introduced me to their teachers at elementary school open houses. The laughing we did as we played at the park on a Sunday afternoon. The notes, printed in the large letters of a child’s writing saying, “I love you.” The relief at seeing one of them awaken without a fever after an acute illness.

How’s your emotional bank account? Emotional health, like physical or spiritual health does not occur by chance. Building a strong emotional portfolio requires commitment, but, as in the case of financial accounts, small regular deposits can pay huge dividends over time.

Opportunities to deposit joy, happiness, gratefulness and love in your account occur on a daily basis. Your challenge is to watch for them, appreciate them, and recognize their value. Make a deposit today. The time may come when your life depends upon it!

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