Perhaps you’ve read the book, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten by Robert Fulghum. In it he relates common sense knowledge that can apply to everyone in all walks of life. Such things as share everything, clean up your own mess, don’t take things that aren’t yours, say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody, wash your hands before you eat, live a balanced life, take a nap every afternoon and lots more. Get the picture?
Since living at Country Meadows, I’ve learned a lot of things too. I’d like to share them with you.
- Don’t ask a person, “How old are you?” Instead ask, “What is your age?” The former approach can make a person feel self-conscious about getting “old.”
- Speak loud enough so the other person can hear you, but not so loud that it sounds like you’re screaming.
- If you see someone struggling or having difficulty, don’t ask, “Can I help you?” Instead say, “Can I be of assistance?” Asking to help may make the person feel embarrassed or annoyed.
- Engage someone in conversation, asking general questions they can easily answer, like did you live around here? What did you do before you retired? Tell me about ….?
- If conversation flows, you may ask more personal questions such as, “Do you have children?” “How many?” “Tell me about them.”
- As questions are being answered, comment on the replies with, “That’s interesting,” or “Tell me more about that,” etc.
- Compliment the person on something he/she is wearing, doing or has done.
- Listen intently to what the person is saying—let him/her know you’re listening through nodding your head, gestures, smiling or frowning when appropriate and continuing the conversation.
When I first came here, I knew very few people and felt uncomfortable greeting them or even smiling at them. Gradually I learned a few names, which made it easier to say “Hello,” “How’re you doing?” and other similar greetings. I noticed that in the beginning when I approached someone, his/her face was blank, or stern, or even void of any expression. But when I smiled at the person, and greeted him/her warmly, the response was a warm greeting and smile. Often that initial greeting led to a brief conversation that made us both feel good.
Many songs have been written and sung based on smiles. The one I like best was sung by Nat King
Cole, titled “Smile.” The lyrics say a lot—read them and see if you get the message. “You’ll get by if you smile through fear and sorrow/Smile and maybe tomorrow you’ll see the sun shining through.” Do you feel better when you smile after you’ve been fearful or sorrowful?
What about the song sung by Dean Martin in which he says “Powder Your Face With Sunshine and Smile, Smile, Smile.” And of course there’s Louis Armstrong’s “When you’re smiling, the whole world smiles with you!” How about “Pack up your troubles in your old kit bag and smile, smile, smile.”
When you hear a song about smiling it can make you smile, and your smile can be contagious making those around you break into a smile.
Here’s an experiment you can do—walk up to someone and smile, then engage in conversation and see if that person smiles back! It works for me every time and it warms my heart!
I didn’t have to go to school to learn these things—I learned them at Country Meadows with my new family members. It’s been a good education for me and one that I can use.