What Your Ancestors Can Teach You About The Meaning Of Life

If you’re interested in genealogical research, you might find it harder to do than you imagine. Yes, research is now much easier with the advent of the Internet, but it’s still a challenge trying to come up with the right search phrases and locate the right websites when tracing your family lineage for births, baptisms, marriages, divorces, and deaths.

What’s more, your family may have migrated through several countries, which requires you to research census information by country. You may also need to dig through government archives for immigration and military records.

While doing the research yourself is possible, it becomes much easier to learn more about your ancestors with the help of professional genealogists. They can guide you to the resources you need to do your search, as well as offer effective methodologies to organize and structure the information that you uncover.


5 Good Reasons To Pursue Your Quest

Since its long and hard work, requiring patience and persistence, as well as unflagging curiosity, you need to be clear as to why you are interested in your ancestry. When you have a strong enough why, you’ll be able to develop the motivation to create a comprehensive family history. With that in mind, here some excellent reasons why amateur  genealogical researchers have been eager to find out about their roots:

  1. It will help you understand your own generation better.

Different generations have been impacted by different historical, economic, and social upheavals and breakthroughs. These events have shaped their world view and conditioned their behavior. By understanding the generation you are in now, you will understand yourself better. You understand your own generation best by comparing it to others. For instance, if you’re a Baby Boomer, someone born between 1946 and 1964, you will gain perspective on your own beliefs and behaviors by understanding the struggles of the Silent Generation (1923-1944) and the challenges of the generation after yours, the Millennials (1980-2000). Studying generational breakdowns can be fascinating and provides a wide range of insights.

  1. It will help you ask deeper questions about your values.

You probably take your values for granted because they arose from your family of origin and some personal decisions you’ve made about the meaning of life since you were a child. However, what you consider clear and self-evident truth is not what other people believe. When you question your own values, you begin to prune those values that no longer serve you and add values that do serve you. For instance, you might still have prejudices about certain races or religions based on what your parents believed. Now as an adult, you realize that these were not accurate assumptions. Instead, you think fair-mindedness and treating everyone with equal respect, regardless of their race or creed, nationality or religion, is a higher value. By becoming aware of your own values, you are able to pass them on to your children and grandchildren.

However, becoming aware of your own values is not always self-evident and you may be holding yourself back from enjoying a fuller life because you don’t even realize that you are holding certain attitudes and assumptions about people and the world from your forgotten childhood. By researching your ancestry, you will not only recall the beliefs your parents had about things, but also trace these further back to their parents and their parent’s parents.

  1. You will become the storyteller of your family.

Everybody loves a great story, and we like it even better when it happens to be a true story. Often stories can give us perspective, offer us insights, and liberate us from misconceptions that have been limiting our self-expression.

As a researcher, you will be uncovering the stories that shaped your family. You will come across stirring deeds that need to be told, heroic acts that have been forgotten, and sacrifices that made all the difference to your family line. You will also uncover scandals, stumble upon tales of chicanery, and come across blunders made by your ancestors that can now serve as important lessons for future generations. By laying open the buried past, you are creating a new future for your family and your relatives. You will be shifting paradigms through your revelations, inspiring success in your family to achieve higher levels of personal and professional accomplishments.

  1. You may find long lost relatives.

Often when tracing back your family line, you come across unexpected benefits, things that take you completely by surprise. Some researchers have been able to connect with long lost relatives, people they did not even realize that they were related to. In rare cases, whole branches of families that split apart by historical events and forgot their connection have been reunited.

  1. You might find information that can make a huge difference to a family member today.

Some researchers have discovered that understanding their family’s medical history has been helpful in identifying certain hereditary illnesses. This knowledge has been indispensable for doctors treating a family member. Instead of stumbling in the dark trying to figure out a person’s obscure symptoms, the doctors can now offer a diagnosis and provide effective treatment.

Why Bother?

You will find many people challenging your curiosity about your ancestry. They will ask you discouraging questions like, “Why bother?” In fact, you yourself might be tempted to ask the question when you run into research difficulties. However, by listing out your reasons why, you will be able to stay motivated and complete your quest for a broader understanding of your family line. When you doubt if it’s worth it, just remember the words of the philosopher George Santayana: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”