If You Can’t Say Anything Nice…

Have you ever said something snarky to someone and then immediately regretted it? A Snarky Comment I was talking to someone recently and by mistake I repeated something I had told her the day before. Instead of just letting it go, she said, You're repeating yourself. You already told me that yesterday!" Now, that wasn't exactly nasty. She had stated the truth. But it was unnecessary, and I felt myself pull back for a moment to regain my footing. Another example … [Read more...]

Was it Disrespect that Lead to the Death of Michael Brown?

I keep trying to make sense of what happened to Michael Brown on August 9, 2014. Some powerful concoction of anger, pride, racism and fear came together in an awful brew that left young Michael dead on the street. It was with thoughts about this tragedy swirling in my mind that I walked over to St. Mary's Park for my morning exercise. A Young Man Behaving Foolishly St. Mary's is a park where young and old people of many colors and languages come to exercise. People … [Read more...]

A Simple Way to Make Your Neighborhood More Friendly

Recently while walking back from Saint Mary's Park where I exercise in the morning, two women I didn't know were standing on the street corner near my apartment. As I passed them by, I said, "Good morning." They each greeted me in kind. And then one of them said, "This is friendly neighborhood, isn't it?" And that made me wonder. Are Neighborhoods Friendly? I've been thinking about her comment ever since. Do you think neighborhoods are friendly? Or is it just the … [Read more...]

The Power and Importance of Being Kind for a Healthy Life

Do You Consider Yourself Kind? I’ve always had a sense that kindness is important. And now, in this wonderful article in The Atlantic, I see how and why kindess works. (Do take a few minutes to read it from beginning to end. This is one of those life-changing articles that is well worth the time to read!) Turns out that kindness is the glue that keeps relationships together and contempt is the wedge that drives them apart. For many years, I’ve tried to become … [Read more...]

Little Suggestions Can Make a Big Difference

My friend, Linda Cunningham, runs an art gallery. Last year, she asked me if I would sit at the desk at the gallery for an hour while she ran some errands. I was happy to help. While I was tending the gallery, a young man walked in and was looking at the exhibition. I went over to say hello and talk with him about the art. He told me that he was an artist and that he would love to exhibit his work in the gallery. How, he asked, could he get a show there. Now, it’s … [Read more...]

A Hankering for Kindness

I keep wanting to be kinder. When I was a young, ambitious woman, someone planted the seed in my mind that kindness was worth more than I had thought. And as I become older and (perhaps) more mature, kindness seems ever more important. But again and again, I make quick judgments and give short answers that eclipse the kindness that lurks in my heart. The Importance of Kindness I can't resist sharing with you this little animated video illustrated by Tim Beirbaum, … [Read more...]

Want to Be Happier? Connect with Strangers!

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you may know that on many mornings I exercise in St. Mary's Park. This park is situated in a poor neighborhood in the South Bronx. It's about 3/4 of a mile from where I live. Walking to the park and exercising there makes me happy. Not just because the exercise feels good, but because I connect with people on my way to the park and while I'm exercising there. Connecting... with Strangers? Greeting strangers is a regular part … [Read more...]

What You Can Learn From Knowing How Other People See You

In last week's post, I suggested an exercise to develop a word portrait of yourself as seen through the eyes of your friends. All you had to do was to invite five friends to send you a quick list of six words that come to their mind when they think about you. I promised I'd let you know my results from this little exercise. So here goes--though I must confess that sharing it makes me feel exposed. Seeing Myself Through the Eyes of Others I found myself a bit anxious … [Read more...]

Imagine Being Homeless

Where do you store your precious items? Where's the old photo of your mother? Your social security card? A sweater your daughter gave you that you no longer wear? Or how about the diaries you wrote when you were a teenager? Do you have a box of precious things packed away in the back of your closet somewhere? What would you do with them if you were homeless?  What would you do if the only storage you had for your things was a shopping cart or two or three that you … [Read more...]

Together We Make a Real Difference in the World

Yesterday we honored Martin Luther King Jr here in the United States and it got me thinking about the power of one person to make a difference in the lives of others. Obviously Martin Luther King made an outsized difference. And most of us don’t have the ability, desire or opportunity for that. But the way each of us behaves influences others, sometimes in surprising ways. Inspired by a Performance My daughter Carla, a musician, once shared this story with me. She … [Read more...]