Jean Ince | County Extension Agent Staff Chair
Spring gives us a new outlook on life. Whether it’s watching birds building their nests or enjoying the beautiful flowers that are blooming, spring just makes us feel better and gives us a positive feeling inside. Have you ever thought about what makes you happy in a relationship? Often relationships, whether it’s with family, spouses, or even co-workers, can be challenging. By making wise choices, we often find our lives more rewarding especially with those we spend time with.
Researchers have made strides recently with personal development studies. Some of the studies have dealt with personal trauma and its effect on our lives. Trauma such as separation from a loved one, death of a loved one, natural disasters, etc. have all been shown to cause depression, impaired functioning and poor health.
On the flip side of this, positive personal development can lead to a sense of well-being and happiness. Research shows that there are some really important things that make a big difference in whether we’re happy or unhappy. Some of these factors are things you may never have really thought about.
According to a program developed by Dr. Wallace Goddard, family life specialist and professor with the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, life is like taking a hiking trip up a mountain. You don’t get there by accident. You have to plan the route you are taking, plus you need to take some things along in order to make your life journey a little more pleasant. Therefore, if we make good choices along life’s path, we are likely to have a successful journey and be happier. Dr. Goddard has outlined the steps we should take in a program he created, “The Personal Journey”. It includes seven steps for living a happier, more fulfilling life.
• Enjoy today. Take time to stop and smell the roses. Focus on life’s beauty instead of its obstacles. Do you know of someone who always seems to be looking on the bright side? Those who find the beauty in life travel well.
• Find the gems in your past. Anyone who wants to find a gem must be willing to search for it. We all have things in our past that we wish did not happen or that we wish we could change. When bad things happen, we may think that nothing good can ever come from this. Life’s treasures are often found after digging through challenges and disappointments.
• Look forward to tomorrow. People who are excited and hopeful about the future are likely to have better journeys. People who look for and expect to find good things usually find them. How do you face today or tomorrow? Do you awake each day saying to yourself, “Today is going to be a great day.” Those who look eagerly for the future are happier.
• Use your strengths. Joy and progress come from using these strengths while managing weaknesses. Discover strengths by noticing things you enjoy doing; things that challenge you; things that engage you. Focus on those strengths and build them up.
• Choose to serve. Inwardly focusing fosters a narrow and limited view of the world. As we turn more energy and attention to helping others, the meaning and satisfaction of our own lives expands. Think about the last time you helped someone. How did it make you feel? Volunteer to help in your community to make it a better place to live and work.
• Choose to grow. Growth is the surest sign of progress. Seek new ideas, experiences, and projects. What will you cultivate? There are several ways to grow. Go back to school, read a book or teach yourself a new skill. Once you master it the feeling you will receive is tremendous.
• Don’t forget your compass. Each of us is equipped with a compass, or conscience, to guide us. When we ignore it, we get lost. When we use our compass well, our journey will be richer and more meaningful.
Remember to just stop and savor life’s experiences. There are simple things that we all have, but rarely notice or think about. When we get good at noticing and enjoying those things, it makes us happier. For more information on family life or “The Personal Journey” contact the Howard County Extension Office at 870-845-7517 and ask for a copy of the “Personal Journey” or visit our website at www.uaex.edu and click on Arkansas Families.
If you have thought about volunteering in your community, but have not made the move yet, consider joining a Howard County Extension Homemakers Club. There are seven clubs located in the county which meets on a monthly basis to learn a new skill and volunteer in their communities. Call the Extension Office for more information about joining or organizing an EHC club in your area. The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.
Recipe of the Week
One of my all time favorite cakes is a carrot cake. My mother-in-law makes the best. Here is a recipe that tastes great and is lighter than its original version.
Lighter Carrot Cake
2 cups all purpose flour, ½ cup sugar, ½ cup packed brown sugar, 2 teaspoons baking soda, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1 teaspoon salt, ½ cup apple butter, ½ cups vegetable oil, 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla, 2 eggs, 2 egg whites, 3 cups shredded carrots, Cooking spray,
Cream Cheese Frosting:
4 oz. fat-free cream cheese, ¼ cup butter, softened, ½ teaspoon vanilla, 3 cups powdered sugar,
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together flour, sugar, brown sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.
Combine apple butter, oil, vanilla, eggs and egg whites in a mixing bowl. Stir the flour mixture and the apple butter mixture together, just until moist. Fold in the shredded carrot.
Spray a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Pour cake batter into pan. Bake for 35 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
For the frosting: beat cream cheese, butter, and vanilla together on medium speed until smooth. Gradually add sugar and beat at low speed until blended. Spread on cooled carrot cake. Yield: 20 servings
Nutrition Information per serving: Calories 260, Fat 8.5 g., Protein 3 g., Carbohydrate 43 g., Fiber 1 g., Sodium 185 mg.
Jean Ince | County Extension Agent Staff Chair