Disconnect to Connect

My ex-husband would always berate me when I spoke to a stranger. He would wait , thank God, until the person was out of earshot, and then the lecture would begin. “Why do you talk to people you don’t know?” “How do you know they aren’t annoyed by you invading their space?”
Well, first and foremost, I am a people person. I love to meet new individuals and discover what they do and where their from. I truly, cannot think of one incident where someone treated me with anything but delight that I had engaged them. My retort to my ex was always the same. “They might have been strangers before, but they’re not anymore.”
He was never amused by my response, but thats part of the reason we’re not together anymore. His life revolved around safety and not making waves. Talking to people he didn’t know could be embarrassing. What if they ignored him or acted uninterested? I on the other hand came from a family of smoozers.
I was born into an Italian family from Brooklyn. We lived in a neighborhood where everyone knew each other, and if they didn’t they soon would. Wherever I went with a member of my family you could be sure that they would engage someone they never met and eventually bring them into the fold. Not all of them became a permanent part of the clan. But many of them did and it helped create the fabric of my life. My books have reflected the many characters I met and their stories have been woven into my work as a stress management consultant.
Over the years I have noticed that as a culture we have become more and more distanced from one another. I know that technology has something to do with it, but the wedge that has been driven between us has also been driven by the constant fear messages the media fills us with. What if I talk to someone who might stab me if they don’t like the way I look. Or, what if I inadvertently touch someone that is riddled with the latest plague? And after all, doesn’t everyone want to simply get where their going? They don’t want to take any time to simply have a pleasant chat with a stranger?
How sad, not to realize that the world is made up of many fascinating people that could enrich our lives if we simply said “hello”. Just smiling at someone helps create a connection. Unfortunately we are getting so used to looking down at a gadget in the hopes that someone is trying to reach us, that we have forgotten how to reach out to those around us. Remember when you’re looking up you see the world, when you look down all you see is the ground.

Look Up That’s Where It’s At

Every day we wake up and preform our rituals, many of which are quite satisfying. I rather enjoy sitting in my cozy chair, drinking my cup of coffee while I gaze out the window at my garden. even though I’ve heard that standing on my head is healthy and brings blood flow to my brain, it’s not something I’d prefer to be doing in the morning. That really wouldn’t help me get a new spin on things…it would just make me dizzy.
Our rituals can be good for us, and they can be comforting, too( I certainly have no intention of giving up my morning coffee in my cozy chair). But an unyielding reliance on ritual can be destructive—not only to ourselves, but to society as well.
When we become inflexible, we start to feel as if we’re living our own version of the movie Groundhog Day—the same thing, day in and day out. And that sort of inflexibility in ritual and thought, in its most extreme, can lead to cultish behavior.
It’s exciting to realize that some of the latest brain research shows that if we develop new ways of thinking and being, we may actually be able to stave off the effects of dementia. If we could stop spending so much time on our exterior world and spend more time on our interior world, there’s no end to the good it would do us. People are always talking about going to the gym and doing their “workout”, but shouldn’t we be giving our minds a workout too? How about a mind gym?
In his book Aging With Grace, Dr. David Snowden, shares his studies on a group of nuns he’s been tracking for a number of years. many of them live well into their 90s, and a surprising number of them are 100 years of age. they also suffer fewer and milder forms of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and brain afflictions. Snowden found that the sisters challenge themselves with crossword puzzles, vocabulary quizzes, and debates; hold current-events seminars, and write in their journals. Snowden, who examined more than 100 brains donated at death by The School Sisters of Notre Dame, maintains that axions and dendrites that usually shrink with age branch out and make new connections if they receive enough intellectual stimulation. The old adage “Use it or lose it” really applies here.
There are many reasons why we become trapped in our routines, and most of us are masters at coming up with reasons why we can’t change. But, try to break out of some of your patterns even if it’s once in awhile. You’ll find yourself feeling renewed and more able to see the world through a brighter lens.