• Something to Think About: How big and connected is your family tree?

green leaves of a ginkgo tree

Dr. Amit Sood says, "We are all individual leaves on a single large tree."

Dear friend,

Some of the biggest known family trees in the world—of Confucius, Lurie, and King Niall—make up a fraction of the real family tree of each one of us. The family tree of Confucius, for example, over eighty-six generations, is believed to have about three million descendants.

The actual size of your and my family tree (and also of Confucius’s), if we could make all the connections, is much bigger. It has 110 billion members—the number of humans estimated ever to have lived on our planet. We are all individual leaves on a single large tree.

In fact, we are even more connected than that. The water in my body, which makes two-thirds of my weight, is connected to every body of water in the world. The air I breathe has touched countless people and trees. The energy that powers my conscious moments connects me to the sun. The life spark within me, I believe, is connected to every other life form.

When I help others, I help myself. The belief that I am a small strand in this big meshwork—that is, the world—makes me humble, fair, ethical, and well meaning. My mind, however, has a habit of forgetting. Without a recent reminder, I forget my pure intentions. I get busy with ordinary wants.

I need repeated reminders until my mind transcends its own limits and the limit set by my senses. Such a mind sees the universal design behind each eye, the shared vibration within each heartbeat—every heart sounds the same beat and beats the same tune. Loving the world is loving this universality while honoring its uniqueness.

May you feel connected to your true family tree, which extends to the farthest corners of the world; may this connection remove moments of loneliness from your life.

Take care.

Read Dr. Sood's blog posts and follow @AmitSoodMD on Twitter.Dr. Sood is director of research in the Complementary and Integrative Medicine Program on Mayo Clinic's Rochester campus in Minnesota. He also chairs the Mind-Body Medicine Initiative at Mayo Clinic.

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