Monday, December 18, 2023



Everyone has a personality made up of unique patterns of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that set you apart from others. This set of traits is a result of our biology and our life experiences. All of us have traits in our personalities that are considered "good" and "bad." 

Research has shown that having more of the good traits can prevent disease and help us live longer. On the other hand, the so-called bad traits tend to have less healthy lifestyle habits and more stress. This can lead to the development of certain diseases. There is good news though. Research also shows that personality traits are flexible and can change over our lifetime. lt is a matter of recognizing these traits and working on changing or modifying them.

Optimism is a positive outlook on life that has a strong influence on our health and well-being. The National Academy of Sciences discovered that people with self-rated high optimism tended to lead healthier lives and had a higher likelihood of reaching 85 years or older. The reasons have not been specifically determined but the hypothesis seems to be that optimistic people have lower inflammation levels, healthier cholesterol profiles and tend to have healthier habits. Therefore, they cope better with illness and recovery and are more resilient. Genetics that play in that optimism is about 25 - 35% heritable. 

Conscientiousness is a trait that is characterized by a person's tendency to be organized, responsible, and diligent in their actions. In general, they are more reliable and have a strong sense of duty. Research shows they also have better health and live longer based on a study  in Health Psychology. They are more proactive about their health and getting regular check-ups with follow-throughs. Conscientiousness also leads to a healthier brain which improves cognitive functioning and lowers the risk of dementia or Alzheimer's disease.

Extroversion is a trait where people tend to thrive in social settings and gain energy from interactions with others. Whereas, introverts tend to like the solitary environments and they recharge by reflecting inward. It is not that one is better than the other, as long as they are balanced. It always helps to be open to new experiences. That involves curiosity and a willingness to explore new ideas. Happier people tend to have lower stress levels.

Agreeableness does NOT just mean saying yes to everything all of the time. It is more of cultivating harmony by being cooperative, compassionate, and considerate in our interactions with others. It shows that you value interpersonal relationships more and are more empathetic to the feelings and needs of those around you. 

All of these traits can be worked on individually to help maintain a healthy personality. And yes, there is such a thing. The more that I have read about people living long lives the more it is evident that they are on the more optimistic side of life. That is how all of the traits that I have listed fit together. 

Just like the song from the Monty Python movie says: 

Sunday, December 3, 2023



This statement is so very true. Sometimes, I must be reminded of it by making myself just stop and think about what it is saying and all that I have to be grateful for and exactly why I not only 'should' be smiling but what happens when I do.

The example that I am going to scribble down today happened to me early Saturday. I was up and ready to be on the road to get to the train station at 6:45 AM. So happy to be riding The City of New Orleans down to see all of the Brownies. (This is my nickname for my son and his wife and my precious twin granddaughters.) Lucky for me, my SIL mapped out the route to avoid the closed roads for the St. Jude Marathon. We had no trouble at all. That helped to put a smile on my face even though I had lost something that I really needed to take with me the night before. My sweet youngest granddaughter searched everywhere at our home with her Mom after we left and crawling on the floor she found it. Jenni called me to tell me on our ride to Central Station but there was no turning back. I thanked her profusely and I knew that it was not the end of the world to wait until I returned to take care of this issue. Plus, I told her that she would receive a reward for her Piggy Bank for finding it. So the smile went back on my face.

Craig and I made it to approximately where the train car was that I would be riding in and my suitcase handle that made it easy to pull the wheeled luggage along did not want to cooperate. Finally, he got it out but when we got to my car, the attendant, nor Craig could get the long handle to go back down. The accommodating attendant, with a SMILE on her face, said there was no problem even though it would not fit with the long handle opened in the luggage compartment. She took it to an empty room where it would be safe. All I needed to do was to remind her where it was when I arrived in New Orleans.

I was still smiling, like a kid in a candy shop on my peaceful train ride to see the Brownies. The one thing that was on my mind is that the last time I was on this train ride, my ticket was marked assistance needed for the disabled. I had crutches that I needed at times for my arthritic knees. This time, I was so grateful to be able to step up on the train, tote my own carry-on luggage (a backpack that held my small handbag too). Also, the bedrooms and roomettes were all the dog-legged steps to the top of the train. I always get the bedroom, that is a little more private plus has the bathroom in the room. That is very nice to not walk down the aisles of the moving train to the public bathroom that sometimes has a line. 

Getting to my room and getting settled felt really good. I had about 20 minutes before the train would be moving along. My attendant told me where the coffee was just down the aisle if I wanted some  before breakfast was served. I walked down to get my coffee. I passed the car restroom and commented that I was so thankful that I had my own. She politely told me that not one single individual or public restroom on my car was working. She repeated to definitely NOT use any of them. By then the train was moving slowly. DANG! I figured that I had better follow her directions down the aisleway to the next car where there was a line to use the bathroom. REALLY? By the time I made it close to the door a man in front of me saw that I was leaning on the wall and let me go ahead of him. He was waiting for his son to come out. A woman behind me told me that she and her husband got the bedroom with the bathroom in it due to him having stomach issues and needing to be close by a restroom. (Good luck with that one!) 

Already, just a couple of hours from starting my day, I had been given so many reasons to smile and to be grateful. I had a choice to make. Be grumpy and use extra muscles to frown and be a Debbie Downer, or to count all of my gratitudes and smile to share with the world. It is so true that if you start your day with a smile then the day will smile back at you. There would be time to talk to Customer Support on Monday when they opened. I remember listening to Steve solve issues and his motto was that you catch more flies with sugar. No employee on this train could solve this problem. Time to deal with this when I call on Monday.

Everyone in the car that I was riding in were all were moaning and groaning. I actually closed my sliding door to drown them out. Taking a cue from my attendant as she smiled and was pleasant through all of the passengers' complaining: 'Be strong. You never know who you are inspiring.' She definitely inspired me. I, in turn, wanted to be an inspiration for others also. Sometimes it works and if it doesn't then that is just the way that cookie will crumble. At least I know that I tried. The bonus was that it made ME feel better. Call it 'cheesy' if you wish. But this meme is how I was feeling. What is the point of getting an attitude about this situation that no one could control at this moment.

I made it to New Orleans, walked the length of the train up to the station instead of being taken in golf cart with my luggage and crutches only to meet up with my son, Doug, Emma and Hazel. What a wonderful start to being in New Orleans with my family. 

Home to unpack, freshen up and amazingly still have enough energy to change clothes and head out to a fun Christmas party with Doug and Lizzie.