Even though the fundraisers knew they were only telling their stories as part of a study, they ultimately lived by those stories, as McAdams would put it. By subtly reframing their narrative, they adopted a positive identity that led them, like Emeka, to live more purposefully. In addition to story-editing, one of the best ways for people to make meaning through storytelling is to reflect on the pivotal moments of their lives--the central scene or scenes from their personal narratives--and consider how those moments shaped who they are and how their lives have unfolded. As Emeka told me his story, for example, there were a lot of what ifs peppered throughout his narrative. What if I could walk? What if I hadn't got involved in youth ministry? What if I could still play football? Of course, Emeka will never know the answers to these questions. But when he thinks about those critical moments in his life and the alternative paths his life could have taken had things turned out differently, Emeka is not just engaging in wishful thinking--he's making sense of his experiences and, in doing so, building meaning. The exercise of imagining how life would have turned out if some event had or had not occurred is what academics call counterfactual thinking. Yet, I admitted, I was doing a horrible job with my life. I began to cry. My entire body shook with sobs. Through a knotted throat and tears, I said, I am so sorry, God . I am making a complete mess of my life. It was the most sincere statement, silent or not, that I had ever spoken. I acknowledged that I couldn't get it right, that I was not truly living, that no matter what it seemed like on the outside, I was absolutely miserable. Honest rivers of warm tears streamed down my face. I openly told God that I deeply longed for the end to come. Please, God, I sobbed, I can't do this anymore.

I think writing out your birth preferences is similarly helpful. Lastly, I have heard nothing but positive feedback with regard to this birth preferences template. I have even had women tell me that their midwives said it was the most useful birth plan they'd ever seen - comprehensive and clear. I recall being concerned myself when handing my own over that perhaps I would come across as bossy', but I was assured quite the opposite - an in-depth set of birth preferences actually helps midwives do their job. <a href='https://www.youtube.com/redirect?q=http://dahliadesigns.co.uk'>After</a> all, midwives are there to support you and are committed to providing you withwomen-centred care' - it's their motto! Instead of spending time trying to work out what kind of support you want (and potentially getting it wrong), it's helpful for them to receive a document which clearly and concisely outlines exactly what kind of support you want and how you want things done. They can then follow these guidelines and ensure your preferences are met. They are on your team! So, don't feel nervous about handing over your birth preferences, you can feel assured that they will be well received, and by doing so you will get the support - and birth - you want. A comprehensive, in-depth set of birth preferences also helps your birth partner to do their job. Our friends were indeed thankful for a warm meal and some company in their new home. Some families have a tradition of inviting each person to state what he or she is thankful for this year. It's a simple yet profound way to communicate with friends and family, as we share what we each value and cherish. One year our family gave each guest a little article with his or her name on it. We then passed all the articles around to everyone at the dinner table. Each person wrote at least one reason why he was thankful for the person whose name was on the cover. Guests laughed at first and said they couldn't think of anything to write. But then, as if by magic, each article became filled with heartfelt messages. When the evening was over, each person left with a article that said he or she is indeed special. The truth about Thanksgiving is that it really doesn't matter what you eat, or where you gather, or what you wear.

In research published in 2010, psychologist Laura Kray of the University of California at Berkeley and her colleagues asked participants to come into their lab and reflect on significant experiences from their lives, and then consider how their lives could have developed differently had the experiences not occurred. The researchers asked students at Northwestern, for example, to reflect on their decision to attend that school: Think about how you decided where to go to college. How did you end up coming to Northwestern? Looking back, list the broad sequence of things that led to your decision. After responding to the essay prompt, half of the participants were asked to respond to one more statement: Describe all the ways that things could have turned out differently. This simple exercise, researchers found, made the participants rate an important life experience as more meaningful. They were more likely to endorse statements like Coming to Northwestern has added meaning to my life and My decision to come to Northwestern was one of the most significant choices of my life, and to say that the event defined who they were. The researchers found similar results when they asked participants to reflect on a close friendship. Mentally subtracting meeting the friend, like mentally subtracting the decision to attend Northwestern, led participants to conclude that the friendship was more meaningful. Why is counterfactual thinking so powerful? I surrendered completely. It was more than an admission of guilt. It was an offering of termination. If living my life had ever been my job, I was now firing myself from that position and all of its duties. Very humbly, very apologetically, I surrendered my life over to God's control, and I asked God to take control of me completely. Immediately, upon the surrender, I heard the most beautiful sound. It was the most loving, kind, calm, and exquisitely wondrous voice. There are no words to fully describe its quality. Very clearly, I heard it say three words. It said: Be .

Having a clear set of preferences makes it easier for the birth partner to advocate for you, because they can see exactly what your wishes are without having to communicate with you and bother you! It also makes it easier for them, because, especially with everything else going on, it's possible to forget things! By having your preferences written out on paper, birth partners can refer to them and ensure nothing important is overlooked. On the following articles you'll find an example of how I filled in my own birth preferences sheet, and on articles 204-7 I've provided a template for you to fill in your own sheet. Birth Preferences Name: Siobhan Miller Contact number: XXXXX XXX XXX Estimated due date: 01/04/16 Birth place choice: Home We wish to have a calm, quiet, water birth at home with no intervention. But it is important that you take a few moments for yourself to reflect and give thanks for what you have. In English, there are at least sixteen ways to spell Hanukkah, including: Channuka, Channukah, Chanuka, Chanukah, Chanuko, Hannuka, Hannukah, Hanuka, Hanukah, Kanukkah, Khannuka, Khannukah, Khanuka, Khanukah, Khanukkah, and Xanuka. The literal translation means dedication, but the word also shares the same root in Hebrew as educate. Anyway you spell it, the meaning is still the same in our hearts. It is a wonderful Festival of Lights. During Hanukkah, which lasts for eight days, candles shine to brighten the night, and family and friends gather to add warmth and their own light. The holiday is filled with tradition, delicious foods--including latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiyot (doughnuts)--games, presents, songs, and the story of Judah Maccabee. More than two thousand years ago, a Syrian king named Anitochus tried to force the Jews to give up their religion. Judah Maccabee led his people in a fight to drive the Syrians out of Israel. The Jews eventually won back the Holy Temple of Jerusalem.

The answer, Kray suggests, is that this kind of exercise engages the sense-making process more rigorously than does simply thinking about the meaning of an event. First, it helps us appreciate the benefits of the path we ultimately took. As the study participants thought about what their lives would be like without the pivotal event, they mostly imagined alternative lives that were worse, not better. Without that event, they concluded, their lives would lack many relationships and experiences that were important to them. If I hadn't attended Northwestern, one perhaps realized, I would never have gotten that job at the company of my dreams. If I hadn't met Julie at the party, another may have reasoned, I would never have been introduced to the man I eventually married. Second, counterfactual thinking leads us to tell more coherent stories about our lives. In another study, the researchers found that those who mentally subtracted a turning point from their lives, like meeting a future spouse, were more likely to believe that the event was meant to be. Their life, they concluded, was not shaped by random chance; Life doesn't just happen, they seemed to believe; The voice seemed to be moving within my core. My body went still and became effortlessly light. Suddenly, everything was calm. Completely cleared and opened, I sat in a profound void. Everything was silent. My eyes had cleared, my body felt restored. There was no thought. It didn't even occur to me to wonder where the voice had come from. I didn't notice if the voice had a gender. I only loved that I had heard it.