Since you are reading this blog, I am guessing you love your ancestors and have experienced the thrill of discovering new information about them. But has knowing your ancestors’ stories also helped you get through a tough time in your life?
If so, you are not alone. Studies show that knowing our family narrative and feeling connected to those who have gone before us can help us weather challenges and bounce back after defeats. Many people have gained strength or at least perspective just by knowing their ancestors also made it through tough times.
Who do you know that could use a lift in these uncertain times? Is a friend struggling to remain optimistic? Has this friend suffered a blow emotionally, physically, or economically? If you have been strengthened by connecting with your ancestors, then you know that others can benefit from the same thing.
How to Do It
Lifting someone else with family stories couldn’t be simpler. Begin by finding a friend and starting a conversation. If it helps, ask a question about the friend’s family, something like one of these:
- Which of your ancestors do you feel closest to and why?
- Which of your ancestors has influenced you the most and how?
- Which of your ancestors are you most like? In what ways are you similar?
- Do you have a special keepsake or artifact from an ancestor that you treasure?
- Which of your ancestors would you most like to meet?
Let the conversation go where it will. Your only job is to listen—with your ears, yes, but also with your heart. Your conversation should feel natural and joyful—like swapping recipes or sports stories—only with a little more emotion.
Take Your Help to the Next Level
While talking to your friend, you may hear something like “I wish I knew more—” or “It would be nice if there was a way to find out—” These comments are great opportunities to ask your friend if he or she would like your help to learn more about family history. Most of the time the answer will be “yes.”
Family history may feel like second nature to you, but there are still a lot of people who know very little about their ancestors and who have never felt the exhilaration of making new family discoveries. Can you imagine how amazed they would be by the things you can tell them about their family?
Picture introducing your friends to a great-grandfather they have never heard of or showing them a picture they’ve never seen before of their grandmother. How about giving them a copy of a draft card showing the signature of a sorely-missed grandfather or showing someone a newspaper article with details about a great-grandmother’s wedding?
Does the thought of giving this kind of gift to someone else give you a thrill like it does for me? I’ve done it, and I guarantee it’s at least as fun for me as it is for those I am helping. The joy on their faces and the excitement in their voices tells me every time that this is a gift that goes straight to their heart.
In these days of uncertainty and anxiety, why not reach out to someone you know and let your love for and knowledge of family history give a sorely needed lift? It takes so little effort on your part, yet it can feel to others like the greatest gift they have ever received.
Need some ideas? Watch the video below and see what Brad did to give a precious gift to a new friend.
Give it a try and see what happens. Chances are you’ll make some amazing discoveries that will thrill, delight, and lift a sagging soul just when it’s needed the most. And maybe your friend or loved one will want to join you in a life-long ancestor treasure hunt!
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