🧡”The difference between misery and happiness depends on what we do with our attention.” ~Sharon Salzberg
I ran across that quote, and it allowed me to pause and think about its meaning. That thought has never crossed my mind, and I’m not sure I agree with it, but then again, there’s a nugget of truth therein. I’m aware I can avoid some misery by concentrating on something else, but there are some you cannot avoid. My son was suffering from pancreatic cancer in 2018 and passed away shortly after the diagnosis. That misery was unavoidable. We moved from a spacious home into a cottage half its size and had to give away or sell many of the things we treasured. That misery was avoided by changing our attention to adapting to our unfamiliar environment, making new friends, and creating new routines in our life.
Happiness is not something you want to avoid. The effort is to keep it around as long as possible. I believe two of the key ingredients for happiness are your positive thoughts and your wiliness to make those thoughts part of every day.
My mother was a good example of that very concept. Dad drank often and as young boys, my brother and I worried about him. My mother refused to be depressed, at least around us, and always had a cheerful attitude. It’s incalculable how much that meant to us. We all have read that a child of an alcoholic, even as an adult, is always waiting for the other shoe to drop. I find myself, at my advanced age, falling into that pattern. And, per Ms. Salzburg, I know I can evade that misery by changing my attention to something else. I kinda think I’ve always done that. I just never realized it.
❤️Recently, my friend (Jerry) asked me if I would follow him to the nearby Buick dealership the next morning. His car needed attention, and he needed a ride back to his apartment in our retirement village. We made plans to stop off for breakfast at the local Cracker Barrel restaurant on our return. That sounded like fun to me, so I assured him I would be happy to do it. I am seldom around men only. There always seems to be a woman present, and men talk about different things when they aren’t near. Mostly, it’s about sports, cars, finance, fixing something, etc., but we don’t talk about that around female company because we suspect they aren’t interested in it. Do I enjoy female company, definitely, but I think it’s important for each sex to reserve time to enjoy each other’s company.
Anyway, Jerry dropped his car off at the dealership, and we headed around the corner to the restaurant and ordered our food. Cracker Barrel makes a darn good breakfast, and as we sat there bantering back and forth, I realized I was really enjoying myself. Sometimes, I’m amazed at how little it takes to make me happy. Of course, friends of excellent character (like Jerry), and excellent food, have always done that for me.
Dale Carnegie said, “You can make more friends in two months by becoming more interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get people interested in you.” I Couldn’t agree more 😊.
❤️ I devised what I think is an ingenious plan that will encourage me to get up from my desk and go outside for a walk. My original title was, “Pay to Watch”, but my wife convinced me to change it to, “Walk to Watch” and that’s a better title. It specifies that I have to walk one mile (2,000 steps) for each hour of television I watch (Mon-Fri). I may revise it later to include Saturday, but for now, I’m leaving it at 5 days per week.
Normally, we sit down nightly at around 7:30 to gaze at the “tube” interminably (3 hours). “Walk to Watch” requires me to take at least 6,000 steps if this old man wants to squander that much time. Considering how much of that precious commodity I have left to wander around on this beautiful planet, it causes me to consider whether that’s an effective use of my limited resources. Of course, I have always known that my existence on earth wasn’t unlimited. I just never considered that I would use so much of it so quickly.
The goal of this well-thought-out plan is to allow me to prolong the date and time of the endgame and be fairly healthy when it happens (although the Holy Bible tells us it is set in stone). If the date and time can’t be changed, then at least I may affect the health thing?
I won’t have trouble meeting the challenge on Mon, Wed, & Fri, but Tuesdays & Thursdays will require a major change in my daily activities.
It has been in place for a week and has been successful thus far, but the rub comes when I’m weeks into the change and my body is trying to convince my brain to forget about it. I discovered long ago that my body was pretty good at doing that very thing.
I figure that if I can stay with it for a couple of months, it’ll become a habit, and then my body sees it as a hopeless situation and gives in. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Only time will tell 😊.
I kinda like this quote by Aristotle: “Learning is an ornament in prosperity, a refuge in adversity, and a provision in old age.”
❤️ We have two new friends (Nancy & Richard) and, as it happens, they are members of our church, and our paths crossed occasionally. We go to the 0845 services and they to the 11 am, so we saw each other infrequently. They moved into our retirement community a couple of months ago and we have been enjoying Sunday brunch with them weekly.
Nancy has impressed me with her knowledge of sports. Yeah, I know, I said women weren’t interested in sports, but she’s the exception.
I have known very few women that are interested in watching testosterone-driven male athletes perform. My wife will watch Sunday NFL games with me, but she soon drops off to sleep and awakes occasionally to look at the score and then returns to her slumber.
My son was an avid sports enthusiast, and he could talk for hours about the current state of affairs in all the sports. He knew the names of the players, what college they attended, and there were times I thought he was going to tell me the names of their parents 😊.
Well, I think Nancy can do the same thing. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve lost interest in sports, but I enjoy watching a game here and there. I’m betting that when Nancy opens the paper, she heads straight for the sports section and reads everything in it, and her weekends probably include watching her favorite teams play. I would be surprised if she doesn’t have ESPN “SportsCenter” on speed dial😁.
We could say that thinking only men care deeply about sports is sexist. All I can say in response is that in my 80 years on this planet I have only known three women that were deeply interested in sports and Nancy ranks either 1st or 2nd in that group. I can also say that when men talk about sports and women are around, their eyes glaze over and they appear to be wishing to be anyplace other than being stuck in a conversation about sports.
I have to say that I’m always impressed when I’m around someone that’s well versed in any subject. I quickly discovered after moving here that there are many people with a lot of knowledge in this community. Regrettably, I should have known that to be true. I often read reports created by a “Think Tank.” I’ll bet there’s enough knowledge to start one here. I’m contemplating calling it, “The Senior Thinkers,” or perhaps, “The Elder Brain Trust”? Although, I doubt that anyone on our campus thinks of themselves as elderly. 😊
Marcel Proust said, “Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”
⚽ As some of you may know, I am an avid walker. I started running when I was 51, and twenty years later my right knee started giving me problems and I was reduced to being a walker. I convinced myself that I should thank the Lord that I was still able to walk and not be so dejected. It sorta felt like your family coming to you and saying, “You can no longer drive, you’re a threat to yourself and others”. I’m confident that day comes to all of us if we live long enough.
For me, 2000 steps equal one mile, and I average 50,000 steps each week, so I’m walking about 25 miles. Last week (5/3) I challenged the members in my Fitbit walking group (my 3 granddaughters, my wife, and a friend in Russia) to walk 100,000 steps the following week (50 miles). I promised to pay anyone that did so $200 and an extra $100 to the one that had the most over that goal. I calculated that I needed to walk 14,300 steps on each of those seven days to get to that magic number, and I wasn’t sure my cranky old bones were up to the task.
Sure enough, by the end of the 2nd day I had a small blister on the side of my right foot and I became worried that my quest was going to come to an end. I gave it some thought, looked closely at my walking shoes, and determined that I was probably tying my shoelaces too tight. In a short walk I wouldn’t notice anything, but a much longer walk would be a different matter. So, the next day I walked with my shoelaces much looser and to my delight the blister didn’t hurt. Also, I noticed as the week progressed how much better I was feeling, my stride became fluid, and I could tell that my waist was shrinking. Now, let me tell ya, that’s a good combination!
The competition ended Sunday night at midnight and the battle was between a 79-year-old Great Grandpa (me) and his 27-year-old granddaughter (Chelsea). I had 110,701 steps (55 miles), and she had 103,787 (52 miles). Earlier in the week she was 10,000 steps in front, but I believe she gave it some thought and decided it was more important for me to win than for her to beat “old Grandpa”, whom she loves dearly. I wonder if I could have been that magnanimous if I were in a competition with my grandfather when I was her age? I have an idea for a new competition in the near future, but I have to let my old aching body heal before announcing it.
I recently had a friend tell me they weren’t into walking as a means of exercising. What I wanted to say, and failed to because I feared offending them, was that not only do you get the health benefits but if you’re walking with someone you get the benefit of good conversation. My wife and I talk more on our walks than at any other time. The only exception may be when we travel. I have learned more about her than otherwise possible thru our thrice weekly one-hour walks. Although retired, we both keep an active schedule during the day and by nightfall we are exhausted, setting in front of the TV eating dinner and, perhaps, snoozing at times like old folks often do 😊.
This “Walking & Talking” thing applies to almost anyone. I love walking with my granddaughters, including the greats, and talking as we stroll along. If I were a police detective and I wanted to get information out of a suspect, the first thing I would say to him is, “let’s go for a walk”. If I were a doctor, I would tell my patients, if capable, to walk for 30 minutes at least three times each week and preferably with someone. I would want them to show me that they were willing to do something to promote their health. I know there would be exceptions, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable. True, we pay our doctors very well to look after our health, but I believe they can rightly expect us to help them get us to the place we want to be health wise. I do have friends that expect their doctors to slow, or stop, their declining health, without lifting a finger to help in that quest.
Yup, I know that having a healthy lifestyle is not a guarantee of a long and healthy life, but I strongly suspect not having one is indicative of a much shorter one with many health problems. An old Spanish proverb goes, “A person too busy to take care of their health is like a mechanic that’s too busy to take care of his tools”. None of us want to be that person 😊.
⚽ Back in March, I had an appointment with my new dentist (my old one retired)), and his task was to bring back my smile. Well, COVID-19 made its grand entrance into our lives and the appointment was canceled. Last week the Governor of our fair state (Virginia) let some business sectors reopen with restrictions. Dental offices were part of that group, so his office called last week (5/6), rescheduled me, and a week later I’m setting in front of his office in our truck. I called the office and his receptionist asked me 15 questions about my health and, after answering “No” to all of them, she invited me to come inside. When I arrived at the door she calmly asked, “Where is your face mask”? I was confused, why would I wear a facemask to the dental office? How are you gonna work on my mouth if I’m lying there with a facemask on?
I had been told beforehand there was no waiting in the waiting room and that I would be ushered directly to “The Chair”. I didn’t have a face mask, so she went inside and returned with one for me to use. In a few minutes my dentist walked into the room I now occupied, and after the customary greeting, revealed a needle that looked to all the world like one you would use on a full-grown horse. All of a sudden, he had my full attention. I thought he was a dentist, not a veterinarian. As I laid there with fear in my eyes, he casually sat on his stool, gave me a pat on the shoulder, and told me that I would only feel a slight sting.
He was definitely wrong about the “slight sting” thing because it was still there when I went to bed that night. The good news is that it worked. I was in his chair for quite a while and I never felt any pain, so the tradeoff was worth it. His job was to replace two caps and 1 filling, and he did an excellent job.
My experience with my dentist reminds me there are things in life that need to be done even though the experience may be less than desirable. A few come to mind: going to the tax accountant, getting a yearly physical, taking the car to the shop for its yearly safety inspection, an annual visit to the optometrist, and of course, the twice-yearly dental visits.
These are things we need to do as we navigate our way thru life, and deep inside we know that any of them can turn into a disaster. I have taken my car to the shop for inspection and watched patiently as the mechanic ambled slowly in my direction and informed me that the necessary repairs to make it roadworthy would cost about a thousand bucks. I have had my family doctor tell me that my blood platelets were too low and send me to hematologists. I still remember the fear in my heart as I walked into his office. Fortunately, the platelets have since increased but the concern is always there.
We all know that our stroll through life will be filled with times of joy and distress. The joy part is easily handled, it’s the part that causes distress that is worrisome. And to me, my friend, this is the part we have to concentrate on the most. How we handle stress plays a large role in how comfortable life is for us. I have developed a plan that works for me and it requires that I ask myself this question, “In one year will this problem still be here?” That has worked quite well for me because not very many of my stressful situations lingered for that long. Sigmund Freud said, “One day, in retrospect, the years of struggle will strike you as the most beautiful”. Sorry, Sig, that doesn’t work for me 😊.