Last week at a PeaceMeal in Washington, DC, I unveiled a new PeaceMeals curriculum. It includes expanded teaching on the gut-brain connection, the importance of a healthy belly (aka, the microbiome), and practical food suggestions. I handed out nifty information to keep on the fridge to help when you’re wondering what you can eat that will make you feel really good or really energized or really calm.
“The microWHAT?” you might be asking. Well, we know that what we eat can affect how we feel. And we know that good nutrition can help fortify our bodies and brains to weather life’s tough storms. However, did you know that a large portion of our neurotransmitters that regulate mood (such as serotonin) are actually found in the gut?
That means that a healthy belly is essential for a healthy brain.
At PeaceMeals, we talk about which foods are helpful to boost mood, energy, relaxation, and outlook. Besides that, the act of cooking itself can be cathartic and fun! The group of us around the table laugh, tell stories, and learn from each other. It is such a valuable time to have a useful and supportive dinner party (with all the planning and shopping done for the participants!)
I am realizing that one of the most important ways of living a meaningful (and, dare I say, happy) life, is to live according to our values.
The problem is, so rarely do we take stock of what we actually value, and how we can actually elevate those things to a place of importance in our lives.
I was realizing that we often set goals that have nothing to do with what we actually value in life. Or else, we chase after things (read: spend a lot of time and $ and effort) that don’t really have “eternal significance.” It was a good practice for me to write down my top VALUES first, to see what I really hold dear, at the end of it all. Then, set goals according to these values.
For example, if you really value financial stability, but aren’t saving a penny, then there are real, actionable things you can do to prioritize this value (ie, automatic savings deposit). Likewise, if you value your family, but just cannot work up the will to call your mother, then there are real, actionable things you can do to support your family, but without spending an hour on the phone re-hashing your life with your mom every week.
At this “new” PeaceMeal, we identified our own values and goals, in order to take them with us into the New Year. I explain this more in depth at PeaceMeals, but it was a good practice for us to start at the table, then take and finish separately on our own time.
We also spent a little time practicing mindful eating, enjoying all the spices and the taste of food. Just this little bit of awareness – and savoring the small things – can bring us into life outside of the dining room.