IMG_0969The Sanchez Family Reunion is over and everyone is headed home. A week is a long time to spend with 15 people – even when you love every single one of them. Like most families, we have members whose behavior is sometimes puzzling and occasionally infuriating.

Since all of us are in different stages of our lives, we have very different interests and definitions of what’s fun, and every single one of us is working through a variety of challenges. If we were inclined to dwell on the negative and scary things in our lives, or if we spent even a little bit of energy finding the fault in one another, it could get ugly in a hurry.

Although the reunion didn’t run perfectly smoothly one-hundred percent of the time, it was a successful gathering. The highlight for me was the “Happy Everything Celebration”. The girls ordered a cake, and we celebrated one grandson’s graduation from high school. We congratulated a granddaughter on the completion of her master’s degree in public health and her upcoming move to Chicago. We toast a son-in-law on his promotion to full partner in his engineering firm. We also celebrated Alex’s upcoming big birthday. (He loved the attention and hearing how everyone felt so lucky that he’s the patriarch of this family.)

We went around the room and announced an accomplishment or a quality that we admired in every person present, and then we ate the “Happy Everything” cake. I believe it can be easy to focus on the negative in our lives rather than the positive. It takes a willingness to compromise and a tremendous amount of patience to keep the peace. Staying positive can be challenging, but if you are determined to spend your emotional energy looking for the good in each person and circumstance, I am certain you will discover that even in the midst of conflict, pain and loss, there are things to celebrate.