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Bring Back The Forgotten Arts In Life

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With all of life’s modern conveniences, it’s easy to forget some of the more forgotten arts in life. You know, those old-fashioned, simple, yet beautiful things we used to do once upon a time, before technology and rapid-pace-everything took over our lives.

I’ll be the first to admit I love being able to shop online. I enjoy receiving a gift card every now and again. And I really love having all my music conveniently located on my smartphone! Technology can be a wonderful thing. But there’s no reason why you can’t continue to enjoy some of the older, finer things in life, too.

Here are seven forgotten arts of life I’ve tried to reclaim in our family:

  1. Family Dinner Around The Table

Do you remember the last time you sat down to an elegant family dinner around the table? Complete with linen napkins, candles, a centerpiece, fancy china, and home-cooked food? Sure, it takes work to pull together – and each of those elements are not necessary for hosting a successful dinner party, so pick what works for you!

While our lives seem busier than ever, taking time to have a special dinner with family or friends is also a beautiful tradition. Some would even call the dinner party an art form in itself. Having special family dinners help create strong bonds and also teach life skills such as how to set the table and use your manners.

  1. Letter Writing

Emails, texts, tweets, and more … it’s never been easier to communicate with one another. One of life’s greatest lost arts are handwritten letters. They seem to be a dying breed of communication.

Why not send someone special a handwritten letter…just because. No occasion necessary. Get out the pretty stationary and pen an old-fashioned love letter. Or catch up with a friend.

While you are at it, consider keeping a physical address book. Keeping contacts in your phone and attached to your email account is convenient, but sometimes glitches (and life!) happens. Phones get lost or broken, and it’s nice to have a physical backup in place.

  1. Listening – Not Watching…

Whether it’s listening to some old records (such as jazz or classical music), or listening to an exciting Audio Adventure story, or even listening to your spouse tell you about their day, listening is a skill we desperately need to bring back into style.

Listening – real listening – requires our brain to be attentive and engaged, instead of being passively entertained. Quite simply, listening is good for our brain health and our emotional health as we connect with others.

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Which leads me to #4…

  1. Just Being With Others

One of the only reasons I keep facebook in my life is to communicate with loved ones who live far away. It’s a good way for us to keep in touch and swap pictures of our kids as they grow up despite the miles between us. So I do appreciate technology in that respect.

However, I can’t help but feel technology has made us quite impersonal, even within our own families. We sit on opposite couches and stare at a screen, hardly speaking to one another. Sometimes we even text, snap, tweet, and facebook each other while we are in the same room! Stop. Just stop. Why not talk to the person that’s in the room with us?

Spend some time this week really making an effort to spend time with those you love. Look them in the eye. Listen attentively. Smile. Give them a hug. Make physical contact with your spouse. Venture to make real connections, not virtual ones.

  1. Reading A Real Book

I’m an avid reader. A part of me is crushed whenever I hear someone say they hate to read. (However, now that I have a child with dyslexia, I understand how reading can be a chore for some…) Today’s school children are no longer developing a true love of reading, often because they are stressed out by standardized testing. Reading for pleasure has been replaced by boring test passages and a “drill and kill” mentality to raise reading comprehension scores.

Reading for pleasure is something most of us should probably do more often. It’s my escape from reality. Reading is also one way I continue to learn new skills and go on adventures within my mind.

I love my e-reader, but there is something really special about holding a real book in my hand. The feel of the pages within my hands … even the smell of the book adds to the reading experience in a way that e-readers and apps can’t match.

  1. Good Old Fashioned Fun

Drag out the cards, board games, dominoes, marbles … or get outside and throw a football with the kids. Dance with your spouse. Blow bubbles. Take up sewing or learn another handicraft.  Take a walk and enjoy the scenery. Invent your own game. Try out an art project.

There are an infinite number of ways to enjoy some good old-fashioned fun. You just have to carve out the time and do it! Enjoy the time together as you decompress from the hustle and bustle of daily life.

  1. Bring Back The Beautiful

Beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder. Each of us have unique preferences about what we think is beautiful. So find the things that bring beauty to your life and your home and immerse yourself in them whenever possible.

Light candles. Arrange some fresh flowers for the table. Paint, draw, or learn to play beautiful music. (One of my favorite things about our home is hearing my children play piano, violin, and guitar on their own.) Decorate your home with things that are special, evoke your emotions, or make you feel joyful. Print out a few favorite photos (instead of just having them online or on your phone) and display them for all to enjoy. Get back to the basics of creating a beautiful home.

What are your favorite ways to bring back some of life’s forgotten arts? Leave your thoughts and ideas in the comments section.

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About Lindsey Cox

2 comments

  1. Hi I love this article and agree with all your points. This weekend, I cleared the coats and toys that were draped across our rocking chair and pulled out a folding table…. I took some time to sit down a read a book next to the window. I looked up from time to time to enjoy watching my kids play together outside. The sun was shining on me… it was nice. We also have taken our lunch outside in the breeze way on a mat in the sun just to have a change of scenery (and more natural light). I wonder what other little things others have done and enjoyed.

  2. I am transcribing my mother’s journal that she wrote in 1929 as an 8th grader in grammar school. It TRULY has helped me to understand how the “simple things in life” are really the best. Their lives in closely crammed quarters was usual for their times and lower economic level of a large family in those days. Three generations lived crammed under one roof
    that had no central heating but two old cast iron stoves on the first floor, and enough bedrooms in the two-family duplex for grandparents, seven children and one boarding cousin, and an endlessly laboring mother and an itinerantly working father — even before the Depression hit. Mom’s close friendships (which lasted a lifetime) in their small MA mill town where she grew up and lived until she married my Dad, gathering around their radio for favorite programs or the spinning records on the victrola, pranks and silliness that crop up under sometimes three words “just foolin’ around” (without further explanation), walks into the country, fishing in the pond in their backyard, ice skating in winter, spelling bees, church and Sunday School, babysitting her little sister and pushing her in her carriage for everyone to see, (“I just love her, she is such a darling…”) and the joys and trials of unsupervised recess with active group games (“We had to keep moving just to stay warm”) that children taught each other, and a LOT of boys teasing girls…But also the very sad and sudden suicide death of their beloved step- grandfather, who had been suffering, alone in his bedroom, from intensive headaches until the untreatable pain became too much for him to take…How my family coped in the joys and trials of their day to day common lives has given me a new perspective on what is REALLY worthwhile for the limited time we reside here on planet earth. That old Shaker Hymn seems to sum it up best: ” ‘ Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free…and when we find ourselves in the place just right, ’twill be in the valley of love and delight…”

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