My favorite show of all time is The Waltons for many reasons. I always love stories that tear at your heartstrings and The Waltons is the penultimate show in that catalog. In its 9 years on Television, it tackled such weighty topics as a death of a beloved Grandpa, the loss of a spouse, the breaking up and then reunion of a family after a fire, and a myriad of other topics that we all deal with daily. Through it all, the Waltons showed the power of kindness and the unconditional love of a family for one another.
That is why this weekend, when I got sick and tired of the current bickering of our national family, I binged watched the Waltons. I did it initially to improve my mental wellness. I wanted to remember what good old American values looked like and how people used to be able to focus on their commonalties instead of differences. After watching a few episodes, I realized that the lessons of the Waltons are not just good for your soul, but for overall wellness. The Waltons are fit, well (but not overly) fed, love the outdoors, well rested and self-aware. They are a walking, talking commercial for wellness. Here are six reasons why:
1. Love of the Outdoors and respect for Nature. The Waltons spent a good part of their days outdoors. Whether they were walking to school, climbing the mountain named after them, or fishing with Yancey Tucker, they had a healthy respect and love for nature. Breathing the fresh mountain air and enjoying the sunshine, the Waltons were never in need of a Vitamin D shot or a few rounds in the gym. Grandpa perhaps said it best, “You can’t own a Mountain, any more than you can own an Ocean or a piece of Sky. You hold it in trust. You live on it, you take life from it, and once your dead, you rest in it.” The Waltons drew life and health from the mountain and in so doing held their land in a sacred trust.
2. Spend time as a family. Wellness is not all about physical fitness. It also includes loving someone and having them love you in return. The Waltons never tired of spending time with one another. They drew strength from each other. Picking each other up when they were down. John Boy was right when he said, “I’ve done an awful lot of thinking of what makes this family work, and I think it’s because there’s enough love to go around and some to spare.” Let’s all spare some love!
3. Eat fresh food in moderate portions. Another key to wellness is eating fresh food and in moderation. On almost each episode, there is at least one scene with the family gathered around the table eating what they had grown or caught. Also, with so many people in the family, it was hard not to eat in moderation. And when you did, you always had Grandma there to make sure you did not eat too much. Note this conversation between Grandpa and Grandma. Grandpa: “I could do another sandwich” Grandma Walton: “You’re the one at this table who could do a little starving.” Grandpa “Esther, we have got to keep our strength up!” Grandma: “Strength? I think you just get weak carrying all that around”. We all need that inner Grandma keeping us from eating too much!
4. Love your work, but find time for rest and play. The Waltons worked hard and enjoyed their work. They enjoyed their craft and the satisfaction of creating something with their hands. As John Boy Walton said, “One of the things that I find distressing about life today is that people don’t really seem to enjoy their work anymore. When I was growing up on Waltons Mountain my father and my grandfather loved their work and they instilled a respect for work in each of us.”
But when the Waltons were done work, they found time for relaxation. As the good Lord ordained, they rested on the seventh day. We should all follow these words from John Boy’s journal: “Sunday afternoon on Walton’s Mountain was a time of quiet contemplation We took it easy or else worked at a slower pace and enjoyed a brief respite from the cares that beset us during the week. After we came home from church and had dinner, we permitted ourselves the luxury of play and relaxation”. Find time for play after working at what you love!
5. Get plenty of rest after saying goodnight to loved ones. Everyone who loves The Waltons knows where I am going with this one. One of the two keys to wellness is to get plenty of rest and never, ever go to bed angry at a loved one. No matter how much Jim Bob irritated Mary Ellen or John Boy struggled to write his next chapter, they always ended the night with Goodnight Jim Bob, Good Night Mary Ellen, and, of course, Good Night John Boy.
6. Listen and be Thankful. The two greatest keys to wellness is being thankful for what you have and to listen and be mindful of the beauty around you. It is amazing the lessons that you can learn when you stop and listen to the wonder of nature. As John Boy wrote in his journal, “ I think if we learned to listen, we could hear all kinds of miracles.” Truer words have never been written. You and this whole world that God has wrought is a miracle speaking to our hearts! Stop and take time to listen.