Climbing Your Family Tree

When it comes to finding happiness and fulfillment in the present, sometimes it helps to look to the past. Each of us has a unique family history, and most of us come from a blend of interesting cultures. Becoming aware, or even intimately familiar, with your family heritage can provide you with a greater sense of place in this world. It may explain your feelings regarding spirituality, it may affect your views on other races or those you view as being different from you, and could explain a great deal about your interactions with others.


For example, DNA analysis points to the fact that roughly 16 million people in this world are direct descendants of Genghis Khan, the ancient Mongol king. Ramesses II, Pharaoh of Egypt, had 50 recorded sons and 50 recorded daughters, not counting the children he sired with concubines and illicit affairs. This makes it possible that hundreds of thousands – or more – people could be his direct descendants.

How would knowing such an important piece of your family heritage affect you? Would it change your outlook on life or your sense of purpose? There are a number of ways in which your life can be enriched by understanding the origins of your family.

1. Enriched Cultural Traditions

Each culture has its own traditions associated with various holidays and significant life events. Add depth and meaning to your life by incorporating some of these traditions into your family holidays. Examine ancient festivals and celebrations for their versions of familiar expressions of joy, such as games, dances, or ritual meals. Sprinkle your current family traditions with bits of your ancient heritage and help the past really come alive again.

2. Improved Social Understanding

You may have preconceived feelings or ideas about certain people or groups of people, and not have any idea why. By understanding your family’s ancient heritage you may gain a greater understanding of your own reactions or interactions with people of a different ethnic or social background than your own. It could explain why you feel a certain affinity for some people yet feel uncomfortable with others. Many of these feelings are learned in childhood from family interactions, but having a greater understanding of the origins of your culture may help you gain a greater insight into the beliefs and feelings of your family. This in turn can help you better assess your interactions with others, and provide you with the opportunity to improve upon the personal relationships in your own life.

3. Greater Spirituality

Perhaps you have found yourself uncomfortable with today’s ideas of religion or spirituality but do not understand why. Examining your ancestry can provide many insights into ancient family beliefs, which may in turn explain your current thoughts and beliefs regarding religion. There may be elements in your ancestors’ belief systems that you feel a connection with, and can utilize in your own life to achieve greater fulfillment. There may be deities you feel a particular fondness for, or you may discover rituals or spiritual observations that bring you a greater sense of inner peace. Learn from your ancient family members, and honor them by incorporating a part of their culture into your personal life. You may find it provides you with renewed inspiration to work towards your life goals.

Many times the discovery of ancient family history leads to the desire to honor their sacrifices and hard work through living a better life right now. We gain a greater understanding of our parents, grandparents, and other distant family members. We gain new perspectives on family traditions, which are given a new richness and greater meaning when we can tie them to events in our family history. We are able to keep the ancient heritage of our families alive by passing on knowledge of their beliefs and traditions to our own children, enriching their lives in the process.

Most importantly, we can affect greater change in our own lives by developing a greater understanding of the origins of our personal belief systems. It allows us to closely examine the sources of our beliefs, likes, dislikes, and prejudices and come to conclusions as to how we have nurtured those feelings throughout our lives. By learning the origins of certain negative feelings, we may be able to examine them with a certain amount of detachment and then form new feelings based upon our own life experiences rather than continue with feelings jaded by family history. This could lead in turn to more satisfying and interesting relationships in our futures.

Copyright 2008 David Bohl and All rights reserved.

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