The older I get, the more convinced I am that two of the most powerful words in our vocabulary are “thank you”. I’m chagrined to say that they’re not really spoken enough. I’ve also heard this from friends.
It’s just so simple to say it, or to write it in a note, which is much more powerful than in an email or text. Yes, it’s quaint to write a note and put it in the mail, but a handwritten note of thanks is probably one of the nicest communications any of us can receive.
Inertia is a powerful force. We may be sitting on the sofa reading the newspaper or a book, and finding it an extremely pleasant way to spend the time. Especially if it’s raining out. Also, if you went to the dinner you were invited to attend, you’d need to change clothes. Yes, you RSVP’d that you’d attend, but now, upon reflection, were you really that excited about spending time with group of people who were acquaintances but not really close friends? All these thoughts may go through your head and keep you sitting on the sofa while plotting some convincing excuses for why you can’t make it.
However, this is a pitch to recommend getting up off the sofa, changing clothes and getting out — even if the people you’ll be meeting are not your BFF’s.
It seems pretty obvious that as we get older, there’s enormous value in socializing and spending time with other people, especially if you live alone. We’ve all read that having a network of friends can help us live longer. Apart from the human companionship, there’s quite a lot to be said for changing it up and doing things that are different. I’m no expert on the human brain but those synapses in our brains like change and get all fired up when we do novel things. Perhaps meeting at a new restaurant, trying something different to eat, having some interesting conversations or meeting some new people would all help to keep our brains sharper.
The bottom line, just get out there!
It’s been raining so much in New York City lately that pretty soon we’ll need an ark. It rained with a particular vengence yesterday, which happened to be Mother’s Day. My family celebrated the occasion with a very nice lunch at a restaurant in Greenwich Village. Afterwards, I decided I would slosh my way uptown, or at least as far as the downpours and gusty winds would permit.
I actually made it to 34th Street, but during those 30-or-so blocks, I kept noticing how many people were walking around holding flowers –presumably for Mother’s Day–along with umbrellas.
So despite the gloom and sogginess of New York City yesterday (and today), the sidewalks and the subways were alive with color. Flowers don’t seem to have much of a scent anymore so their abundance didn’t help make the streets or subways more aromatic. But, that aside, it was extremely nice to have them to help cheer everyone up from the gloom and rain, including, I’m sure, all the mothers who ultimately received them.
There are many recommendations for how to improve your level of happiness. I think one easy one is simply to be kind to someone else. Sometimes it takes just the smallest gesture, like holding open a door, giving up your seat on the subway or bus, letting someone with a few items at the checkout get ahead of you if you have a cart full, picking up something that’s fallen for someone whose arms are full. These are really just a few.
I’d like to think that I’m helping to raise the level of civility in society today, which is sorely in need of it.
The next time you do something, just spend an extra second thinking about how the ‘thank you’ of the person you helped made you feel. Nice, huh?
Like most of us, I fall into routines. I get up at roughly the same time every day. My breakfasts of fruit, cereal and coffee don’t differ that dramatically from one day to the next. But I’m trying a new strategy to try different routes to get to places I might routinely need to get to in Manhattan–especially on foot.
What this new approach does is to provide opportunities for constantly changing sights, sounds and experiences. It’s especially nice when these new routes have older buildings that evidence the city’s history. They’re certainly shorter. Most of them are going to be brick or stone, to have survived fires. Some of them might even have an old sign embedded in the masonry.
My new walking plan not only makes it much more fascinating to walk around but gives me a chance to reflect on New York City’s incredibly interesting history. Plus I’ve found some great new places to stop to have a coffee and a muffin on the way.
My next goal: Changing breakfasts!
I was never one of those parents who hocked their kids about having children. Quite the opposite, in fact. I just assumed my very talented daughter and daughter-in-law would continue to pursue full-time careers and not try to balance them with motherhood. In fact, at my 45th college reunion, one classmate asked, “So, Amy, any grandchildren yet?” My response, “No, but I’ve got 2 adorable grand dogs!”
So, in the fullness of time, and a mere 7 years later, I now have 5 very wonderful, adorable, bright, and (mostly) kind and considerate grandchildren, I truly do count my blessings and am enormously grateful to have them, and my wonderful children and children-in-law, in New York City.
I’m heartbroken that my husband of 41 years, who died 9 years ago, can’t be here to enjoy spending time with them, too, and I hope they each come to know about him even more as they get older.
I recently read an article aimed at the “wrinkles” demographic, about the importance of having “meaning” in life, for its health, social, psychological and emotional benefits. Having a close family certainly helps provide that meaning and grandchildren, well, they’re right up there.