What’s Your Sign? by Robin Trimingham
If you are a regular reader of Olderhood you will know that we are quite fond of signs. Even though they might sometimes seem a little trite, we like to offer our readers simple messages of encouragement that even our smart phone users can appreciate whether they are able to download and read the articles or not.
I have been thinking this week about the signals that we emit to the people in our lives with our body language and facial expressions, and wondering just how much we actually judge each other with these visual clues. Do we assume that people with contorted sour facial expressions are actually unpleasant to deal with? Do we assume that round shouldered people with downcast gazes are depressed? Do we assume that smiling people with tight faces and big toothy grins are forced and insincere?
Perhaps they are, perhaps they are not. We all know that we “shouldn’t” judge a book by its cover, and then go right ahead and do it anyway. A fool errand indeed, as a study that I read about concluded – the researchers showed pictures of people to subjects and asked them to choose who they would most like to sit next to on a train and neglected to mention that most of the people in the images had been convicted of some horrible crime or other. Which just proves that you actually can’t tell what a person is like just by looking at them, but people are more likely to want to be around you if you brush your teeth and make an effort to appear somewhat welcoming.
Now I realize that all the super grannies (aka retired “cool kids”) out there are reading this and thinking why on earth write about something so obvious, but trust me; the lonely mutt-ster who lives across the street from you really doesn’t get this at all. They have been so beaten up by life that getting to the grocery store is agony enough – talking to strangers is beyond terrifying and they don’t have any idea why no one talks to them after church. So do both of yourselves a favour, conjure up your inner Zen place and broadcast that sense of inner peace on your face. Then go talk to the lonely neighbor you have been wondering about.
I guarantee you two things if you do – one you will feel fantastic for even having tried, no matter how it goes; and two, you might discover your actually like broadcasting your inner beacon of peace and tranquility. And who knows … you might even make a new friend!
by Robin Trimingham