I’ve been thinking . . .

Every now and then, someone says something to me that really strikes a chord. Or a friend will offer up some information or reading that they’ve come across that they think I might appreciate. A couple of things recently came up (thank you Candy and Sara).

Over a glass of wine and amidst a lovely conversation with Candy, she told me that a long time ago, a former colleague had given her a great piece of advice in terms of helping to connect with people.  The advice was quite simple, but not.  He said simply “Ask the second question.”

Hmmm.  Simple enough, but really pretty powerful.  We’re all so harried these days,  in a rush to get somewhere, so busy, stressed out and overbooked that often when we’re in a conversation with someone, our frenzy spills over and we might not fully engage with the other person.  We listen, sort of, waiting for either an escape or for our chance to talk. 

Sound familiar? We’ve probably all done it at one time or another, and have most likely been the victim of it as well.

So when she told me about “Ask the second question,” I probed.  What exactly does that mean?  Well, it’s just what it is.  When you’re talking with someone, stop and really listen to what they’re saying after you ask  “How are you?” or “What do you do?”  Instead of jumping ship or starting in on your stuff, take a breath and ask another probing question based on their first answer . . . then see how the conversation starts to pick up.

Maybe it leads nowhere.  But maybe, just maybe, you begin to make a stronger connection with a stranger, an acquaintance, even a close friend . . . or dare I say it, your spouse.

If nothing else, think about how doing this might make someone feel good just being heard.  It’s worth a try. 

**********

The second thing I’ve been thinking about kind of relates to the thought above.

My friend Sara sent me a TED vignette titled “The Strongest Predictor of How Long You’ll Live.”  (See the full TED Talk here.)  If that isn’t a dramatic enough title for you, the top predictors should make you pause and consider your own behavior.   I won’t give it all away, but I will let you in on the very top predictor, which was surprising to me. For the rest, you’ll have to watch the TED Talk. 

We’ve all heard or read about how important it is to have close and loving relationships, and how impactful that is to your longevity.  That was a clear indicator for a long life.

The top predictor, however, of how long you’ll live is called Social Integration. Simply defined, social integration is basically how often you interact or talk to people as you move through your day, every day.  Do you chat it up with the checker at your grocery store, or with the barista at your local coffee house? How about the people in line with you at any number of venues, or the gym regulars who share your exercise schedule?

It seems this seemingly random and incidental connection with people is vital to your living a long and happy life.  These simple interactions actually produce  a sense of community, of belonging, which in turn reduces anxiety and alleviates loneliness or isolation which are health killers. 

So next time you’re rushing through the line at the neighborhood market or waiting for that nonfat latte, take a minute and chat it up. It just might add years to your life.

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And lastly, I’ve been pondering this statement that I read a while back. 

Who you are at this age – over 60 – is the person you were always meant to be.

I really love this, and believe it.  Since I’ve been pondering this for several days, here’s my take on it.

Life challenges us from Day 1.  We strive to meet those challenges as we grow through life.  Some of those challenges make us question ourselves over and over again.  They strip away at our confidence, and then over time, build it back up. We learn from our mistakes, grow from our heartaches. We celebrate the joy of loving and living.  And then we’re back to striving, achieving, celebrating, suffering . . . in other words, living.

So by the time we make it to 60, we have, hopefully, found some resolution and growth around all the striving, achieving and suffering.  And that’s where we – maybe – find our true selves.

I love this whole concept. My only question is this:  If this is the ‘me’ I’m supposed to be, why isn’t it 10 pounds thinner?

What do you think?  Are you the you that you were always meant to be?

I’d love to get your thoughts on this and any of the thoughts in this post.

Tell me, what have you been thinking about lately?

Till next time,

Judy

13 Comments

  1. Melanie
    January 26, 2018 / 6:56 am

    At this age we have been tried and tested in many ways. It isn’t in the peaceful times we see who we are, but in the challenges. I find the inner core of who I am hasn’t changed over time..I love the wisdom I’ve gained and wouldn’t want to be any younger. Thank you for the thoughtful post.

    • Judy McLane
      January 26, 2018 / 3:57 pm

      Thank you, Melanie. You’re so right. The wisdom we’ve gained at this point in our lives is truly a gift of age.

  2. January 26, 2018 / 7:56 am

    Judy,
    I love this blog. Thank you.

    • Judy McLane
      January 26, 2018 / 3:57 pm

      Thank you, Tina! xxx

  3. Bobbi
    January 26, 2018 / 8:33 am

    If one of the main things to live a long life is TALKING I’m afraid I will never die.

    My husband is sure of this – and not too happy about it!

    Thanks for your “unwork” , Judy – makes me smile.

    bobbi

    • Judy McLane
      January 26, 2018 / 3:58 pm

      LOL, Bob, you cracked me up with this one. I can see Jack rolling his eyes knowingly. Lunch soon — not a question! Love you.

  4. dona
    January 26, 2018 / 9:12 am

    I love this Judy! When I’m with my husband in a store and we are standing in line, I know he’s going to start talking to people and I say to myself, here we go! He starts by looking at the person, checks them out head to toe and then he strikes up conversation. Everyone knows my husband. We walk into Kaiser pharmacy and the employees all yell out, “hey George”, the car wash, the restaurants, the banks. I truly admire that about him. Maybe that’s why he survived his heart attack, he wasn’t done here on earth making people feel special, and that he does. Again, Judy, this was an eye opener. Thank you again for helping me get out of my box. I will try this today with the people I ring up at work and make an extra effort to ask them that second questions. Love you!

    • Judy McLane
      January 26, 2018 / 3:59 pm

      I thought of George while writing this post based on the stories you tell me about his outgoingness with strangers. He’s a dear man . . . and a lucky one to have you, dearest.

  5. Brad
    January 26, 2018 / 10:45 am

    Damn, you did it again. Is my mind bugged or are you telepathic?! I’ve actually been pondering the question about “is this the me I wanted to be?” Ok, 10 pounds thinner is ALWAYS on my list but I have been looking at myself in relation to this ol’ world and my part in it. 2017 changed so many of us in our daily focus. Perhaps we became complacent with business as usual and now we are thinking differently about how to preserve things of meaning and how we feel about more global, moral, and spiritual issues. Well, at least that was what 2017 did for me. And, amidst global issues, we had cataclysmic events here in our own state. I realize that others lost everything but just the threat of losing our home and possessions really awakened thoughts of what “home” and “stuff” mean to me. Contrast that with having to leave a home and family you’ve known all your life and be sent to another country you’ve never known or been culturally related. Yep, I’ve been looking inward and outward a lot lately and trying to measure myself as a husband, a family member, a friend, a community member, a global citizen, and even a spiritualist. To be certain, I’m not doing a full on makeover but I’m noticing little shifts in thinking. I’m settling age-old arguments with myself, going back to some fundamental “manners” I was taught over time, appreciating relationships and love, and actually informing myself more. Yes, an old dog can definitely learn new tricks and this old dog isn’t finished learning!
    Thanks, my wise and sweet friend Judy, for reading my mind again and for not just starting conversations but always “asking the next question!” Hugs! B

    • Judy McLane
      January 26, 2018 / 4:05 pm

      On the same page with you, dear one. Settling some age-old arguments with myself, too. Finding or settling into our part of this big/small old world is, I believe, what we’re supposed to be doing now. The more we reconcile that, the more we can lead and lift up others behind us. This old dog isn’t finished either, and so happy and privileged to be in the same school of life as you. xxx

  6. Julie Loats
    January 26, 2018 / 3:52 pm

    I think we are always in the pricess of becoming the person we were meant to be, although I believe that process speeds up as we age (like everything else!) Hence we really are more ourselves than ever. Your thoughtful comments on speaking to others we encounter daily and asking that second question is something I definiteky notice that I do MUCH more at 71 than in my younger days. In thinking about it, I realize I truly am more interested in others now. In youth I believe I was more focused on myself. Not proud of it – just an honest observation. I guess there is some truth to the old adage that youth is wasted on the young. If we only knew then what we know now, how different some aspects of our life may have been… Thanks Judy for always challenging us to think!

    • Judy McLane
      January 26, 2018 / 4:08 pm

      Oh if we only knew then what we know now — one can only imagine where we’d be. But think of all the “fun” we’d have missed. haha. Love you.

  7. Colette Derr
    January 28, 2018 / 6:46 am

    What a timely and wonderful post! Each moment brings a beautiful,opportunity to connect and bring the members of humanity together, one smile or word at a time. I love the idea of asking the second question.

    Yesterday, while ordering a late lunch at a cafe counter in Montana (of all places), my sister and I both proclaimed that we needed a glass of wine. We were longing to soothe our hearts after a particularly rough day of moving two reluctant relatives into nursing care. The twenty-something gal taking our order said “I know what you mean. I’m having a tough day myself”. Her eyes filled with tears and I could tell something particularly bad happened to her earlier in the day. Without knowing the details of each other’s drama, we engaged in a dialog and an understanding that life has bumps in the road and that we all survive stronger and more resilient. The encounter was a gift to all three of us.

    Thank you Judy, (& Candy and Sara) for this lovely reminder.

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