Word-Of-the-Week #971: Neighbors

March 16, 2023 by · Leave a Comment 

Neighborsone’s fellow human beings. 

Do you know all your neighbors? Have you ever socialized with any of them?

This week features St. Louis Post-Dispatch writer Lynn Schmidt’s, Know Thy Neighbor.”

She writes, “Our country is in a very dark place at the moment. But I have hope, because the answers are all around us. They live around us. 

For thousands of years wise people have been extolling the virtues of loving your neighbor. Now is the perfect time to get out and do just that. 

The word “neighbor” appears over a hundred times in the Bible. More specifically, the Bible tells us to love our neighbor. A Chinese proverb teaches that a good neighbor is a found treasure. A Welsh proverb says “A little among neighbors is worth more than riches in a wilderness.” 

Finally and perhaps most notably is the wisdom of Mister Rogers: “All of us, at some time or other, need help. Whether we’re giving or receiving help, each one of us has something valuable to bring to this world. That’s one of the things that connects us as neighbors — in our own way, each one of us is a giver and a receiver.” 

I was reminded of the value of good neighbors during recent floods in the St. Louis area. We got 11 inches in six hours in St. Charles, Missouri, where I live. A part of our property was impacted by flood waters. My husband was working out of town and, without hesitation, I called one of my neighbors and asked for help. He immediately came over and offered his assistance. I not only thanked him, I texted and thanked his wife. She responded: “Of course. That is what neighbors are for.” 

Unfortunately, not enough Americans can share in that neighborly experience like I did. Pew Research Center conducted a study in 2018 on how Americans interact with their neighbors. In the poll, 57% of respondents said they know only some or none of their neighbors. That share climbed to 72% among 30- to 49-year-olds and 78% among 18- to 29-year-olds.

Four out of 10 rural residents said they know all or most of their neighbors. The shares were smaller among those living in urban (24%) and suburban (28%) areas. Nearly two-thirds said they know their neighbors but don’t spend time chatting or hanging out with them.

I feel so grateful to live in a community that sponsors many events in our park that brings neighbors together. This was our ice cream social.

Knowing and loving your neighbors can have real benefits. Strong neighborhoods can make residents healthier, both physically and mentally. They can make them happier, safer and less lonely. They can increase longevity and provide access to more information and resources. 

Studies have shown that cohesive or tight-knit neighborhoods have lower rates of gun violence, and fewer lives are lost in tragedies, including natural disasters. Older adults who know their neighbors report a far higher sense of psychological well being. Social connections can also have a profound effect on physical health. 

According to a 2011 study at the University of Missouri, people who perceived their neighbors as trustworthy were more likely to report higher rates of health and well-being than those who said they did not know or trust their neighbors. A more recent 2014 study by the University of Michigan found that close community ties reduced heart attack risk for people over 50. 

It’s not difficult for people to get to know those who live around them. It starts with a simple introduction and a commitment to memory of the neighbor’s name. Every encounter outside is an opportunity to greet the neighbor, even if it’s just a wave. There’s always time to stop and talk or offer a helping hand. Even if the neighbor doesn’t accept the offer, the willingness to help may have a beneficial impact. 

It may feel awkward making yourself vulnerable, but asking for help is an excellent way to get to know someone and make that person comfortable asking for assistance later. 

The bottom line is to step outside and give neighborliness a chance to thrive. It is good for you, good for them and might just be good for our country.”

This week is about knowing your neighbors. Do you spend time chatting or hanging out with them? Have you ever asked a neighbor for help? Would you help any of your neighbors if they asked?

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Word-Of-the-Week #970: Giggles

March 9, 2023 by · Leave a Comment 

Giggleslaughing repeatedly in a more quiet but uncontrolled way. 

Do you remember the last time you got the giggles? Do you remember how it made you feel?

This week features excerpts from Washington Post writer Daryl Austin’s, Giggles Can Bring Gaggle Of Health Benefits.”

He writes, “My three young daughters like to watch pets doing silly things. Almost daily, they ask to see animal video clips on my phone and are quickly entertained. But once my 7-year-old lets out a belly laugh, the laughter floodgates are opened and her two sisters double over as well. 

This is just what science would predict. 

“Laughter is a social phenomenon,” says Sophie Scott, a neuroscientist at University College London who has studied laughter and other human reactions for more than two decades. Scott co-wrote a study showing how the brain responds to the sound of laughter by preparing one’s facial muscles to join in, laying the foundation for laughs to spread from person to person.

“Contagious laughter demonstrates affection and affiliation,” Scott says. “Even being in the presence of people you expect to be funny will prime laughter within you.” 

  • It’s like yawning 

Scientists have yet to definitively find a funny bone, but they are revealing nuances about the laugh impulse. Laughter’s positive psychological and physiological responses include lessening depression and anxiety symptoms, increasing feelings of relaxation, improving cardiovascular health, releasing endorphins that boost mood and even increasing tolerance for pain. 

Laughing has also been shown to lower stress levels. “Cortisol is a stress hormone that laughter lowers,” says Scott, adding that anticipation of laughter also “drops your adrenaline” and the body’s heightened fight-or-flight response. “All of these things contribute to you feeling better when you’ve been laughing,” she says.

Because humans are wired to mirror one another, laughs spread around a room just like yawns, says Lauri Nummenmaa, a brain researcher and professor at Aalto University School of Science in Finland whose work appears in a recent special issue on laughter in the journal Royal Society.

We simply copy the behavior and laughter of others,” Nummenmaa says. “Someone else’s act of laughing is first perceived when seen or heard, and this sensory information is then converted into the same area of the observers’ brain.” 

Studies also indicate that laughter can strengthen relationship connections. This happens, in part, because people naturally want to be around those who make them feel good the way laughing does. “We crave the company of the individuals who can give us such feelings,” Nummenmaa says. “Laughter is kind of a molecular building block of friendship.” 

Adds Scott: “You’re much more likely to catch a laugh from someone you know.” 

  • Laugh attacks 

You can, of course, laugh alone, but the contagious nature of laughter means we’re more likely to laugh harder and longer in groups, as at a comedy club or in a movie theater. 

Psychologist Robert Provine showed that “you’re 30 times more likely to laugh with other people than you are on your own,” Scott says. In his seminal book, “Laughter: A Scientific Investigation,” Provine wrote that the “contagious laugh response is immediate and involuntary, involving the most direct communication possible between people: brain to brain.” 

Although scientists have uncovered much about laughter’s health benefits and its contagious element, there remain many unknowns, including how contagious laughter is learned in the first place. 

“Babies aren’t born doing this,” Scott says. “All we know is that people do learn to laugh contagiously eventually, but we don’t know how or when exactly it begins.”

This week is about having some giggles. Have you ever been in a restaurant where a group of guests are having fun and laughing out loud? Did it make you giggle too? Or like me want to join their party? How many friends do you have that you have lots of giggles with?

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Word-Of-the-Week #969: Refocus

March 2, 2023 by · Leave a Comment 

Refocusto readjust one’s concentration of attention or energy on something. 

Have you ever been forced to make a decision? How did that feel? Would the outcome have been different if you had time to refocus and come up with more options?

This week New York Times writer Carl Richards’ article, Don’t Force Decisions. Refocus, felt like a good WOW to re-visit.

He writes, “I love rock climbing. Looking from the ground up, it seems almost impossible for climbers to balance themselves and find handholds where none seem to exist. 

Even the most talented climbers can end up getting stuck on climbs well below their skill level. The fact that the next move feels so hard, like we need to force it, means we’re missing something. There must be a handhold we just haven’t seen yet.

When I get stuck, I try to relax and take a step back. This small pause helps me refocus and I usually end up seeing a handhold I overlooked. I compare these moments with the resistance we sense when we try to turn a bolt, and it just won’t go. 

Recently, I was talking to a friend who has built a really successful business. He told me that all of his biggest mistakes were the result to trying to force something. Instead of pulling back and refocusing, he’d try to push his way through the situation. In contrast, his biggest successes happened when he gave himself time to find a better way forward. 

What if we start to practice a different reaction to resistance? After all, resistance doesn’t imply that we can’t reach our desired goals. It simply means we haven’t found the best option – yet. Why not give ourselves time to identify and evaluate our choices? 

Writers stumbled on to this trick a long time ago. Throughout history, we’ve heard the stories of how writers used walking to help work through new ideas and deal with writer’s block. 

I’m curious to see what would happen if more of us approached life thinking like a writer. We would still commit to finding a way forward, but like a bolt that just won’t turn, we may need an adjustment. We can’t make that adjustment, however, if we don’t stop the force.”

This week’s is about taking time to refocus. How many times have you felt something was just impossible? How would it feel to relax and pause the next time you feel under pressure to make a decision? Have you taken time to readjust your attention to identify and evaluate all of your options and refocus on what’s most important to you?

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Word-Of-the-Week #968: Emotions

February 23, 2023 by · Leave a Comment 

Emotionsstrong feelings.

How often do you have strong feelings? Are you comfortable with asking yourself why you feel the way you feel?

This week is another great one from Steve Straus, author of STEVE’S 3-MINUTE COACHING.

Principle: Emotions 

(Principles are basic truths that, when applied, cause success to come to you easier and quicker.) 

“Reactions to this S3MC seem to be binary, either agree or not like it at all. So be it. I sure didn’t like it when it was first revealed to me. Upon awakening to its wisdom, I found levels of peace and freedom not previously available.

All emotions are internal.

Nothing makes you happy. Nothing makes you unhappy. No situation makes you fearful. Or joyful. Nothing outside of you causes you to have the emotions you experience. All emotions are internal.

The external situations may indeed trigger your emotional response, but they do not cause it. What you experience emotionally is the result of your conditioning, beliefs, and past experiences. All emotions are internal.

And that is the most wonderful news.

Instead of attempting to change your external world – really, really hard and highly prone to failure – you get to notice every emotional response you experience and choose to keep it or not. You can do simple processes to change and improve your emotional responses. You can become emotionally competent.

All unuseful or negative feelings are our own, and there is no longer looking outside of ourselves for their resolution. All emotions are internal.

Coaching Point: How does that make you feel?
(Trick question! It didn’t ‘make’ you anything.)”

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— Copyright 2023 Steve Straus. All rights reserved. —

This week’s focus is all about strong feelings. What was your reaction when you read that emotions are internal? Agree or not like it at all?

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Word-Of-the-Week #967: Intuition

February 16, 2023 by · Comments Off on Word-Of-the-Week #967: Intuition 

Intuition a gut feeling of knowing without ever having any idea why you know it.

Have you ever had a feeling that you knew something but didn’t know how or why? Do you have the courage to follow your heart and your intuition?

This is the follow up to “How To Be Successful In Life: 13 Tips From The World’s Most Successful People.”  Kara Heissman has seen over the years how the quality of people’s lives are reduced by their inability to find solutions for certain difficulties in their lives.

There are a lot of tips and strategies out there on how to be successful in life, but I am still a firm believer that there is no better way to succeed than to follow that footsteps of those who have already done so. Here are her other 7 success tips from some of the world’s most successful and renowned people:

  • Avoid conflicts.

From Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of America: “The most important single ingredient in the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people.”

  • Don’t be afraid of introducing new ideas.

From Mark Twain, Famed Author: “A person with a new idea is a crank until the idea succeeds.”

  • Believe in your capacity to succeed.

From Walter Disney, Founder of Walt Disney Company: “If you can dream it, you can do it.”

  • Always maintain a positive mental attitude.

From Thomas Jefferson, 3rd President of America: “Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.”

  • Don’t let discouragement stop you from pressing on.

From Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of America: “Let no feeling of discouragement prey upon you, and in the end you are sure to succeed.”

  • Be willing to work hard.

From JC Penny, Founder of JC Penney Inc.: “Unless you are willing to drench yourself in your work beyond the capacity of the average man, you are just not cut out for positions at the top.”

  • Be brave enough to follow your intuition.

From Steve Jobs, Co-founder of Apple Inc.: “Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

This week’s focus is on intuition. How often have you had a gut feeling but not sure how or why? How often has it served you well? How would it feel to not question and just follow your gut feelings?

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