By Kristin Mataluni

I absolutely believe in progress. The world is becoming a better place each and every day. There are, however, some behaviors we have let go of that I believe we need to try hard to hold onto. Read and see if you agree:

1. Send thank you notes. Hand written, delivered by the post office ones. I have been trying harder to make sure that I always do this. People really appreciate it.

2. Shake hands. Outside of the business world, people are not good at it at all. We are big huggers, so I don’t shake a lot of hands, but when I get one of those sad, limp ones, I wonder how depressed and unconfident that poor person must be.

3. Collect things, specifically when it comes to kids. When I was little, it was stickers; boys collected baseball cards or comics. When my dad was a kid, he pinned beautiful insect specimens to boards. Collecting teaches organization and responsibility. Today, kids collect video games that they treat poorly.

4. Stand up straight. It literally causes me physical pain to look at the way teenagers carry themselves today. My great great aunt was very tall for a woman when she was young, so she slouched on purpose. I knew her when she was in her nineties, and I saw the results of all of that slouching. The poor woman was hunched.

5. Have dinner parties. They are wonderful. Going out is fun, but there is nothing like having friends over for dinner.

6. Take walks. My husband’s grandparents habitually take a walk after dinner every night. It is such a great thing to do, if only for your own digestion. Our lives are busy, and it is hard to fit in…I know.

7. Have family reunions. When I was a kid, we planned big ones, and they were for that reason only. We got together in the summers just to have a family reunion. It was so much fun.

8. READ! It is my favorite thing! You are clearly reading right now, so maybe you read. Pick out one of your friends who doesn’t read, and buy them a book.

9. Spring clean. I really want to do this, and I have never actually organized a day when the whole family spring-cleans. Windows, floorboards, ceiling fans. Pulling out the stove and the fridge. It might even be worth it to get a few families together and take turns on houses. The guys could concentrate on the power washing and the lawn work.

10. Volunteer.

I don’t know very many people who volunteer. It is easy to donate to causes and a wonderful thing, I know. Giving your time, though, is far more fulfilling…and rather addictive, as well.

Be careful not to take on too many projects.

11. Call our moms. I probably spend at least three hours a week on the phone with my mother…sometimes more. She is the only person whom I am good at talking to on the phone. If not your own mother, than whoever the person is that serves that role the most in your life. I find doing so is really good for me.

12. Sleep over. Yes, as adults. It may sound silly, but some of the most amazing moments I have had have been over brunch with good friends after a party or an event the night before. It is such a wonderful time to laugh together. Planning short trips with good friends for a few days is a wonderful idea; I think it’s why they invented vacation rentals.

13. Make a casserole. Not just a casserole, but also some soup or a dish. When a friend is sick or having a hard time, they are greatly uplifted by receiving a homemade meal. I have some friends who run marathons, and I try to make them a chocolate cake for every one that they finish.

14. Say our prayers.

I don’t think it has anything to do with religion. Everyone can pray, and I believe it is good for us. It reminds us that we are a little part of everything and that we have a voice.

I am not Catholic, but every time I see an emergency vehicle, I cross myself and say a prayer for the people inside.

15. Watch the sky. We have such beautiful skies here in Florida. They are always doing something different. I think that there is an artist up in the sky who spends all day up there just painting away. When was the last time that you looked for shapes in the clouds?

16. Play board games. I do have a bunch of manly guy friends. They will scoff and grumble when a board game gets pulled out, and then they have a wonderful time, get competitive, and laugh their butts off. Board games are fun!

17. Gift just because. I don’t even know if they still make greeting cards that say “Just because…” I can’t remember the last time I picked up a small gift for a friend and told them that I bought it just because it reminded me of them.

18. Go out for ice cream. This one is for my grandma. My husband and I have been loyally working to take the kids out for ice cream in her memory. It’s just a good thing to do.

19. Read aloud. Even when children get older, even when they become adults, they still love to be read to. Reading aloud is a disappearing art. It is not an easy thing to be good at either. You should try it sometime. My husband and I used to take turns reading chapters back and forth to each other.

20. Take a drive. There are so many hidden gems in the area where we live. There are so many charming little neighborhoods, so many small places we haven’t discovered. We need to get out and look for them.

I hope maybe something you read here inspired you. I know that I inspired myself to get working on some of these items. I guess it’s been worth writing for that reason alone.

Kristin Mataluni lives with her husband, three children, and Golden Retriever in Ocoee, Florida. She and her husband parented seven foster children before they chose to have their own. The experience of fostering inspired Kirstin to study childhood development and family dynamics. She works at home, writing and home schooling her kids. Kristin loves to cook and write recipes, as well as to work on her fiction novels and non-fiction short stories that she shares on her blog.

*Image courtesy of theirhistory.