In this space you will find ongoing reflections – delivered on a some-time basis – combining some wisdom of the ages, and some wisdom of the aging.
I begin with one of my favorite subjects (no, not my grandchildren): gratitude.
This is a big theme in my life. Maybe you’ve heard me talk about my nightly ritual: as I put my head on the pillow, I review what I am grateful for that day. It’s a good practice; keeps me appreciative, and wraps up the day with positive energy, no matter what has happened. Gratitude is a good place to default to at any time, since we can’t be sad, angry, upset, frightened, disappointed – we can’t be in any negative state - and be grateful at the same time.
Since the openheartedness of gratitude improves not only our spirits, but our well-being, it’s no wonder a whole industry has emerged in recent years: Positive Psychology, asking why are some of us happier than others? I was amazed to learn that 50% of our happiness is genetically determined (as reported in a University of California research study). My next surprise was that only 10% is accounted for by external circumstances – even though we love to blame our situation for our disposition, don’t we? That still leaves a whole 40% to create our own happiness with our what we think and what we do.
Perhaps I am in the genetically determined optimist group. It doesn’t hurt that I was born lucky: into a middle-class New York family with books, art, theatre, humor, philanthropy, and traditional Jewish values of education, family, and tikkun olam or repair of the world. Every night our family sat down for dinner together. (I think listening to my father’s stories about his life in the insurance business is what got me interested in business at an early age.) I was blessed to have an older sister, then a younger brother and, as a girl growing up, I was given the message that I could be anything I wanted.
Music was prevalent: my mother playing any song by ear while we hung around the piano, singing, my father picking out the notes in the upper register with one finger. To this day, I’ll find myself singing a song, wondering why I’ve chosen it, and I’ll trace the lyrics to learn what’s on my mind or what I’m concerned about. I call it the “window to my unconscious.”
Add to the No Wonder I’m Grateful List: enough good looks to feel good about myself and enough smarts to be assigned to Mrs. Smith’s IGC, (Intellectually Gifted Children) class. I might have been grateful for that, too, were I not always fearing that I wouldn’t measure up, especially after Victor Garlin, in 5th grade, spoke about “diplomacy,” a word beyond me.
Gratitude, we know, can be contagious; we feel more positive when we are with positive people. There will a whole lot more I’ll be writing on this subject. In fact, it’s one of the precepts I live by: live and work with positive energy.
I’ll be adding reflections on the other precepts that guide my life, like find stillness and beauty every day, don’t let aging stop or define you, leave nothing unsaid…. I’ll keep them short, because we all love learning, and no one has time anymore. I figure if I can give you some nuggets and use little of your precious time, you’ll be grateful. ;-)