Today? Yesterday? Every day? Tax Day? If any of the pet peeves that follow tick you off, you’re not alone!

Table Manners

Some people’s table manners can be more easily excused than others
  • Open mouthed chewers
  • Slurping
  • Loud chewers
  • Slathering food with salt/ hot sauce/ketchup before even tasting it
  • Cracking gum
  • People talking with a full mouth
  • Chewing gum/cracking
  • Spitting
  • Talking about what you are eating
  • Demanding everyone wait and take 500 Instagram photos before eating

Phone Etiquette

Interrupting training with the shogun to answer your phone
  • Taking phone calls in public
  • Being on their phone too much
  • Facetiming without headphones
  • Staring at their phone rather than watching where they walk
  • Texting during a meal
  • Ending a call without saying good-bye
  • Ignoring an in-person companion in favor of a phone screen
  • Using speech-to-text in public
  • Constantly filming in public rather than engaging

All Around the House

Leaving overflowing ashtrays on every table and counter
  • Leaving the toilet seat up
  • Singing (badly) in the shower
  • Leaving empty containers in the fridge
  • Not replacing the toilet paper
  • Leaving lights or ceiling fans on
  • Being loud when someone in the house is trying to sleep
  • Leaving dirty dishes on counters or in sinks next to the dishwasher
  • Wearing shoes in the house
  • Leaving cupboard doors and drawers half open
  • Not closing bottles or other containers completely
  • Opening a new container before the old one is empty
  • Using things without permission, e.g. clothes, accessories, car
  • Not putting things away (clothes, sandwich-fixings, etc.)
  • Failing to throw away empty containers
  • Playing music or watching TV with the volume turned way up

Speaking Politely

Shouting everything they say through a megaphone
  • Interrupting
  • Finishing another’s sentences
  • Talking over one’s conversation partner
  • Talking too loudly
  • Turning the topic of every conversation back to oneself
  • Talking during a movie
  • Gratuitous swearing
  • Stopping the conversation to correct someone’s grammar
  • Talking to someone who is trying to read
  • Using LOL or OMG during a face-to-face conversation
  • Constantly talking about a particular obsession (health/diet/exes/etc.)
  • Saying “like” instead of “said” (I’m like, “Duh!”)
  • Treating every conversation like a monologue or performance

Any Time, Any Place

Walking three-abreast and blocking the entire sidewalk
  • Being habitually late
  • Self-entitled people
  • Attempting to control everyone and everything
  • The silent treatment
  • Encroaching on others’ space, particularly in crowded areas
  • Clicking a pen
  • Repetitive tapping
  • Cracking knuckles
  • Nose-picking
  • Mean-spirited gossip
  • Knee bouncing
  • Cutting in line
  • Littering
  • Unsolicited advice/recommendations
  • Constant throat clearing/coughing/sniffing
  • Passing gas or belching
  • Clipping nails in public

Does it Have to Take All Kinds?

People who leave their shopping carts in the middle of the parking lot
  • Particular family member(s)
  • Particular friend/acquaintance/neighbor
  • Surly servers/salespeople/cashiers
  • Dog owners who don’t train or pick up after their pet
  • People who cut in line
  • Grumpy people venting their bad mood on servers/salespeople/cashiers
  • Bad drivers
  • One uppers
  • Know-it-alls
  • Strangers (or friends) encroaching on your personal space
  • People who randomly command you to smile
  • Strangers calling you Honey or Sweetie
  • Standing up the minute a plane gets to the gate

Common Pet Peeves

A survey of 544 people conducted by Survey Monkey listed these top fifteen pet peeves at home and at work.

Bedmates who hog the entire bed and all the blankets despite being tiny and having their own fur coat
  • Leaving common spaces messy (63%)
  • Colleagues complain about their work and/or specific colleagues (53%)
  • Manager doesn’t give you credit when it’s deserved (50%)
  • Neglecting to take out the trash (45%)
  • Bedmate takes too much of the blanket (39%)
  • Colleagues show up late to meetings (33%)
  • Colleagues fail to recognize your contributions (31%)
  • Talking loudly over the phone (30%)
  • When a bedmate moves around too much (29%)
  • Taking food without asking for permission (24%)
  • Cooking something that smells unpleasant (22%)
  • Bedmate wakes you up early in the morning (22%)
  • Bedmate is on their phone or computer late at night (22%)
  • Playing music loudly (22%)
  • Occupying the kitchen for a long period of time (20%)

The results indicate that younger people (18-29) and older people (45-60) differ in their peevishness. Which group is more often peeved varied depending on the item.

More Specific Pet Peeves

A similar survey reported on PromoInfoTools found a lot of overlap with Survey Monkey, though some seem to be distinctive. (I’ve shortened or edited some of the answers for the sake of brevity.)

Drivers who don’t use their turn signal
  • Crunching! Especially on the phone.
  • People tailgating
  • People being hypocrites
  • When people don’t believe what I’m saying is true
  • People not showing up on time for appointments
  • People using items and then not putting them back where they found them
  • Being late for anything
  • When people do not take responsibility for their actions
  • When people take what is said at face value and jump to conclusions and judgements without doing their own research for the truth
  • People not putting their shopping cart back
  • Feeling unappreciated
  • Correcting or “cleaning up after” someone else’s mistake(s) or sloppy work
  • When someone interrupts me when I’m talking to interject what they want to share
  • When my time is wasted. Take my money, or my material items, but not my time.
  • People who categorize people by income, position held, school jocks and nerds, etc. We are all human and deserve to be treated as such, not by our categories.
Garbage not emptied when full in kitchen or bathroom(s)
  • Inconsiderate people
  • Roadside trash and the people who throw it out their windows
  • Wasting water
  • When people don’t make eye contact or acknowledge you when your paths cross
  • Being lied to and the person thinking they are getting one up on me
  • Lack of customer service
  • Being told someone will call back but they never do
  • Lack of communication
  • People hitting “reply all” on an e-mail when it should be directed to a specific person
  • Traffic
  • When the waiter interrupts my conversation to ask if I want more water
  • People who don’t get to work on time. It’s disrespectful to your coworkers!
  • People who can’t “stay in their lane” – Do your job, I’ll do mine
  • Lack of basic manners! Using please and thank you is all I ask
  • Toilet seat and/or cover left up when not in use
  • Discrimination of all types, racial trauma, micro-aggressions, bigotry. Internalized and systemic racism affect us all.
  • Robocalls!

More Specific Pet Peeves

More people are interested in pet peeves than I ever imagined! If you are interested in a particular category of pet peeves, there’s probably a survey for that. For example…

Forbes: Survey: The Biggest Pet Peeves Of American Dog Owners

Zety: List of 28 Common Office Pet Peeves

Cmmonline: Survey Reveals Americans’ Restroom Pet Peeves

Bottom Line: Pet peeves are everywhere! It’s important to note: something that’s a minor annoyance—or not at all annoying—for one person is especially irritating for another. Ask yourself if your pet peeves are worth the emotional toll they take. If so, find out how to deal with them. That advice is also available online!


March is one of those in-between months, not really winter and not yet reliably warm. But there are literally hundreds of occasions for celebrating in March so, much to enjoy! Here are some you probably hadn’t considered.

For example, March is Adopt a Rescued Guinea Pig Month. I will abstain, thank you very much, because I have a severe anaphylactic reaction to guinea pig dander. On the other hand, eating guinea pig—as I did in Peru—is perfectly fine. In Peru, guinea pig is a major source of protein, analogous, perhaps, to chicken in the United States.

And there is March 10, when we “spring forward” and set the clocks ahead one hour—as if anyone wants to celebrate “losing” an hour.

Celebrating Days in March

Dress in Blue Day, 3/1 (fundraiser/ awareness for colorectal cancer)

I’m sorry to say, we’ve already passed several great days, but feel free to mark your calendar for next year.

World Book Day, 3/7 (first Thursday in March)
National Napping Day, 3/11 (Monday after Daylight Savings starts)
  • International Astrology Day, 3/20 (same day as the Northern Hemisphere Spring Equinox or the first day of the astrological sign of Aries)
  • OK Day, 3/23 (not to be confused with Oklahoma Day, which is April 22)
  • Earth Hour, 3/30m 8:30 pm (worldwide event: turn off all power for 60+ minutes to help save the planet)

Celebrating Weeks in March

Weeks for those who need a little extra time to get with the program.

Celebrating All Month Long

Month-Long Observances for those who are into party time, all the time.

Of course, March has St. Patrick’s day, (3/16) and Easter (3/31 in 2024), but they are so well-known they need no reminders. But if you haven’t already started observing the United Nations’ International Year of Camelids, you can start now. You still have ten months to celebrate llamas, alpacas, camels, dromedaries, vicuñas, etc….!

Bottom Line: There’s always a reason to celebrate in March—or at least to get involved and expand your awareness.


Not body language—facial expressions, gestures, movement, etc. Rather, body parts used in clichés and idioms that mean more than the words. Keep your nose to the grindstone or Have a silver tongue.

Linguists have noticed that English is not the only language with idioms full of body parts. Czech, Korean, Malay, Pashto, Turkish, Igbo, and Vietnamese (just to name a few) are full of body part phrases that mean more than the literal sum of their parts. It seems, no matter what language you speak, your brain reaches for parts of your own body when looking for interesting ways to express yourself.

So, head to toe, here are examples.


  • Hard-headed
  • Soft in the head
  • Bang your head against a brick wall
  • Keeping your head above water
  • Able to do something standing on your head
  • Keep your head down
  • Hold your head high
  • Bite someone’s head off
  • Head in the clouds
  • Head in the sand
  • Bring something to a head
  • Can’t make heads or tails out of something
  • Drum something into someone’s head
  • Head to toe
  • Keep your head in the game
  • Fall head over heels in love
  • Get a head start on something
  • Get someone or something out of one’s head
  • Give someone a head’s start
  • Go over someone’s head
  • Have a good head on your shoulders
  • Head someone or something off
  • Hit the nail on the head
  • In over your head
  • Lose your head
  • Keep your head
  • Off your head
  • Scratching your head over something


  • Right brain/left brain
  • Brain storm
  • Brain fart
  • Brain buzz
  • Brain freeze
  • Brain dead
  • Braining (to hit someone on the head)


  • A pain in the neck
  • Stick your neck out
  • Neck and neck
  • Breathe down your neck
  • Dead from the neck up
  • Up to your neck
  • Neck of the woods
  • Millstone round your neck
  • (Competitors are) neck and neck
  • To save your neck
  • Risking your neck
  • Wring his or her neck
  • Rubber necking


  • A chip on your shoulder
  • Come straight from the shoulder
  • Give someone the cold shoulder
  • Put your shoulder to the wheel
  • A shoulder to cry on
  • Stand shoulder to shoulder
  • Shoulder a burden


  • Arm of the law
  • Cost an arm and a leg
  • Give your right arm
  • Up in arms
  • (Keep) at arm’s length
  • Strong arm someone


  • Give a hand
  • At hand
  • Out of hand
  • Bite the hand that feeds you
  • Change hands
  • First hand
  • Hands down
  • Have a hand in
  • A firm hand
  • Hand something over
  • Hand in glove
  • Heavy handed
  • Hand holding
  • In your hand
  • Lend a hand
  • Out of your hands
  • Wash your hands of
  • Get your hands dirty
  • Hands full
  • Hands tied
  • Live from hand to mouth
  • All hands on deck


  • Something will put hair on your chest
  • Get something off your chest
  • Keep your cards close to your chest
  • Chest thumping


  • Spineless
  • (Send) a shiver down someone’s spine
  • Spine-tingling
  • Spine of steel


  • Change of heart
  • Heart of gold
  • Eat your heart out
  • Know/learn something by heart
  • After your own heart
  • Cross your heart
  • Lose heart
  • Follow your heart
  • Heart skips/misses a beat
  • Take heart
  • Follow your heart
  • Break your heart
  • Have your heart set on/against something
  • Heartbeat away
  • My heart bleeds
  • Bleeding heart
  • Heart of stone
  • Soft-hearted
  • Young at heart
  • Wear your heart on your sleeve
  • Big-hearted
  • A heavy heart
  • From the bottom of your heart
  • Get to the heart of the matter
  • Be halfhearted about something
  • Have a heart-to-heart talk
  • Heart in the right place
  • Pour your heart out


  • Gut feeling /reaction
  • Gut punch
  • Beer gut
  • Blood and guts
  • Bust a gut
  • Go with (one’s) gut
  • Gut feeling /instinct
  • Gut it out
  • Gutted
  • Gut-wrenching
  • Hate someone’s guts
  • Have someone’s guts for garters
  • Have the guts (to do something)
  • No guts, no glory
  • Puke (one’s) guts out
  • Slog/sweat/work your guts out
  • Spill your guts
  • Split a gut


  • Not have a leg to stand on
  • On one’s last legs
  • On the last leg (of a journey)
  • Pull (someone’s) leg
  • Put your pants on one leg at a time
  • Have/find your sea legs
  • Get/give a leg up
  • Break a leg (theater)
  • To have hollow legs
  • To leg it
  • To talk the hind leg off a donkey
  • To pull someone’s leg


  • Bee’s knees
  • On one’s knees / bring to one’s knees
  • Knee-high to a grasshopper
  • Weak in the knees
  • Take a knee (football)


  • Cold feet
  • Foot in the door
  • Have two left feet
  • Get off on the wrong foot
  • Have itchy feet
  • Put your foot down
  • Feet on the ground
  • Foot the bill
  • Get back on your feet
  • Feet of clay
  • Get your feet wet
  • Swept off your feet
  • Best foot forward
  • Have a lead foot
  • One foot in the grave
  • Bound hand and foot
  • Dead on my feet
  • Foot in both camps
  • Jump in feet first
  • On the back foot


  • Achilles heel
  • Bring someone to heel
  • Cool one’s heels
  • Dig in your heels
  • Be a heel


  • Dip one’s toes in (the water)
  • Keep someone on their toes
  • Step/tread on someone’s toes
  • Toe the mark

Bottom Line: When words about body parts don’t literally mean what they say, they can be used in an infinite number of ways.


Simple Pleasures

The first thing I’ll say about life’s simple pleasures is that with age I am more conscious of them. That’s probably because I have more time to notice—and this is a good thing! These are among my pleasures, in no particular order.

Weather and seasons affect me daily, and always have. In the past, mostly that’s been for practical reasons: do I need an umbrella? A snow shovel? Extra sunscreen? While those questions are still relevant, now I’m also aware of breezes on my face, and the skyscape—bare branches against “Carolina”
blue sky—seasonal changes, and the varied faces of clouds.

I have stained glass panels hanging in the window over the sink and in my study window. Sunlight through those windows gives me great pleasure, more than either sunlight or colored glass alone. This underscores my preference for daylight over dark.

Drinking many mugs of water every day has made me aware of the pleasure of ice cubes—one of my favorite things! Our old refrigerator wasn’t dispensing ice well for months, so the contrast with the new one is stark.

And speaking of sensory pleasures, I enjoy flannel sheets and down comforters, and lying in bed deciding whether to get up then or later. (It’s usually later.) Even better is turning off the alarm and going back to sleep. And in a similar vein: I like to nap in my recliner in late afternoon.

This is not my bedroom, but it sure looks pleasant!

With the exception of high winds and rain, virtually every breakfast and lunch brings the pleasure of bird and squirrel watching. I’ve now learned the names of our resident bird species: house finches, gold finches, bluebirds, blue jays, titmice, chickadees, robins, mourning doves, mocking birds, cardinals, white-throated sparrows, catbirds, grackles and starlings, and the occasional sharp shinned hawk. I can
usually remember them! But I enjoy them regardless.

The other kitchen table pleasure is watching squirrels. I admire their athleticism. It’s amazing what having back feet that can rotate 180 degrees allows them to do! All the males I call Stanley and all the females, Olive.

Speaking of kitchen pleasures reminds me of coffee—strong, black, and moderately hot. Mocha java, Moka Batak Blend, and Columbian Supremo are among my favorites. Three particular coffee pairings bring pleasure: cranberry-nut bread with plain goat cheese, crusty bread with havarti, and anything chocolate!

Reading. I read every day—sometimes long into the night. Having more books on hand than I’ll have time to read is wonderful. I’ve often said it’s like money in the bank. Should I ever be laid up for three months, I’m prepared!

Read what? It scarcely matters. Mysteries, action/adventure, romance, creative non-fiction, memoirs, popular science… Not much poetry. But a related pleasure is finally allowing myself to not finish a book that is boring or poorly written.

And then there is laughter. It can be any sort of laughter, from giggles to guffaws, tinkling to belly laughs, as long as it comes from joy and pleasure.

Life’s small pleasures are nearly limitless. Blooming plants. Mah Jong tiles, the look as well as the feel of them. Playing computer solitaire. Playing with my jewelry, organizing “sets” of pieces that I find make pleasing combinations.

Rocks, stones, shells, sticks. A completely silent house. This list could run on, but I won’t let it.

You’ll notice that I haven’t mentioned family, friends, love, good health, writing or other big pleasures—because they are big—but pleasurable they are.

Bottom Line: Stop and smell the honeysuckle. You will be glad you did.


The United States has no standardized system for food dating, and only 20 states actually require perishable foods have dates on them. Manufacturers put dates on products for their own benefit, not
yours. But how do you know if something is actually too old to be beneficial?

Last week I blogged about expiration dates. In my opinion, the ones that really matter are medicines, cleaning products, and safety gear, such as infant/child carseats, and kevlar vests—anything we count on for health and safety.

But even things without an expiration date can be too old. How are you to know?


Running on cement will wear out shoes more quickly than running on grass or trails.

Running shoes can start to lose their cushioning after about 250 miles of running, which means more stress on your joints. Most walking shoes start to break down after 350 to 500 miles.

Shoes for housework, hanging around, gardening, running errands, etc. vary wildly by design and materials. Very fancy, formal shoes may fall apart after one outing. Cheap sandals might keep going for years.

Ballet shoes break down astonishingly quickly.

Advice: For hard runners, get new shoes every 200 to 300 miles. For less strenuous runners, replace workout shoes every six months to a year. Walkers or occasional joggers, pay attention to the feel of your shoes. The wear pattern on the tread of your shoes can be a very good indicator of how much life your shoes have left.

Power Strips

Cheap power strips or ones that have been overworked can be a fire hazard, and use a lot of energy. Only buy surge protectors and power strips with an OSHA rating. But even good-quality surge protectors are designed to last for a certain amount of joules (the amount of excess electrical surges they absorb). They typically do not come with an expiration date, but the product warranty is a good way to gauge how old they are.

If your power strip looks like this, it might be too old for safe use.

Signs of age: If they start to get discolored or hot to the touch, get a new one. It’s generally a good idea to replace them every couple of years just to be safe.


Please do not give razor blades to babies. Babies are notoriously full of bacteria.

Disposable razors are supposed to be thrown away. But how often? To prevent bacteria buildup and razor burn, you could toss your razors every week, or every three to four shaves.

Alternatively: Don’t cut yourself shaving and get a new razor when the blade begins to drag, requiring several passes to get smooth. Make sure to let it dry between uses.

Fire Extinguishers

Most fire extinguishers don’t expire for five to 15 years, depending on the type. Make sure to recharge (refill) after any use.

Warning signs: Things like cracks in the hose and low pressure can affect how well they work. Check the pressure in the gauge often.


Batteries start to expire as soon as they’re made. The shelf life differs between types and sizes of battery, as well as where they are stored.

Store batteries in a dry, room-temperature location. It does not depend on whether they are used.

Signs: Check the date, and discard when there is any sign of corrosion (the white stuff along seams or ends).

Scrubbing Devices

Not to be confused with sponge cake, which should be consumed as soon as possible because it is delicious.

Sponges and natural loofahs can start to breed bacteria in just a couple of weeks. Plastic mesh loofahs are safe for up to eight weeks.

Suggestion: Rinse and dry all your loofahs after each use. Replace natural loofahs every couple weeks, and mesh ones every other month.

Household Danger Alarms

Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors can stop working after 10 years, even if you replace the batteries. Most have the expiration or manufacture date listed somewhere on them.

Staying safe: If you don’t know the age, it’s safer just to replace them.

Bug Spray

Commercial insect repellent loses effectiveness after about two years from the manufacture date, which should be marked on the bottle. Check the date before you buy to make sure it isn’t already old. Don’t let the bugs bite!

If you make your own insect repellent, the mixture will lose effectiveness at varying times depending on the ingredients.

Advice: Get new spray every couple of years.

Skin Care Products

Most skin care products are safe to use for six months to a year after opening, although maybe a bit less for eye products. Moisturizers in a jar that you use your fingers to apply can become a breeding ground for bacteria in a matter of months. (Wash hands before applying.) Lotions and moisturizers in a tube should be good for a couple of years after opening, and after that will start to dry out and lose effectiveness. Powder makeup can last up to two years before the preservatives in it start to break down. Lipstick that’s exposed to air starts to dry out and change consistency after around two

If your makeup contains lead tablets and was made in the 5th century BCE, it’s probably too old.

Signs that a product has degraded:

  • If it’s an emulsion (a mixture of oil and water), separation is often one of the first signs that a product has past its prime, according to the Food and Drug Administration.
  • Changes in color or texture might signify that a product is no longer effective or safe to use. A good rule to follow before rubbing something on your skin is that if something seems off, don’t use it.
  • If products smell badly or differently than they should, that could be a sign that bacteria or contaminants could be lurking inside. According to Dr. Bruce Brod, a dermatologist at the University of Pennsylvania, “That’s a red flag that a product may not be safe.”


Unlike wine, which continues to age even in the bottle, unopened liquors will stay good indefinitely. Keep opened and unopened bottles in a cool place.

Signs of age: An opened bottle of liquor will begin to lose its taste and potency after about a year. But unless you’re a connoisseur, you likely won’t notice a big difference until much later.


And then there is food.

Generally speaking, expiration dates have more to do with the food’s overall quality and texture instead of when it is safe or not safe to eat. According to RealSimple, as long as there are no signs of spoilage, you can eat it, but it might not taste as fresh as it once was.

Fresh Foods

Things like milk, cheese, fresh vegetables, and fruit should not be eaten past their prime because they can harbor bacteria that can be dangerous. This is caused by the natural breakdown of organic matter.

You’ll be able to tell that these foods have gone bad based on their appearance and smell.

A string of murders could be another sign that one of your potatoes is bad.

The common potato and other plants of the nightshade family (like tomatoes and eggplants) contain traces of a toxic chemical called solanine that can be very dangerous and even deadly. The toxin is minimal in raw, unspoiled potatoes, but if sprouted, overexposed to the sun, or stored near other
vegetables that increase spoilage (like onions) for a long period of time, the concentration of this chemical can become harmful. When stored correctly, ripe potatoes should stay good for two to three months. Store potatoes in a cool, dark place.

Solution: Don’t eat green (unripe) or sprouted (overripe) potatoes.

Frozen Foods

Frozen foods do not have the same time limitations for safety as fresh foods.

As Marianne Gravely, Technical Information Specialist, Food Safety and Inspection Service in Health and Safety says, “Food poisoning bacteria does not grow in the freezer, so no matter how long a food is frozen, it is safe to eat. Foods that have been in the freezer for months may be dry, or may not taste as good, but they will be safe to eat.”

Shelf-Stable Foods

Some foods have been treated to last indefinitely without needing refrigeration or freezing. Salted, dried, freeze-dried, or cured foods, like nuts, jerky, or oatmeal can last for years as long as they are in moisture-proof, sealed packaging.

Most canned foods are safe indefinitely as long as the can itself is in good condition (no rust, dents, or swelling).

Packaged foods (cereal, pasta, cookies) will eventually become stale or develop an off flavor.

See FSIS’ Shelf-Stable Food Safety fact sheet for more information. Before eating, check the packaging for signs of damage and the food itself for signs of spoilage or contamination.


Dried herbs and spices usually last for two to three years, but it depends on the kind, how they were dried, and how they are stored. You can find charts of how long different herbs and spices last online.

Signs of age: Taste and smell have faded. When they no longer pass the taste test, get rid of them. In the interim, for dried herbs, you can sometimes boost them by adding finely minced fresh parsley.

Salt by itself doesn’t expire; however, when salt includes iodine it may reduce shelf life. Even so, iodized salt has a shelf life of about five years. Keep your salt free of moisture, perhaps going so far as to repackage it in glass jars.


Sugar does not have an expiration date. White sugar lasts almost indefinitely if properly stored—though pests can contaminate your sugar and spoil it. Brown sugar may become hard as it loses moisture, but a piece of apple or bread in the container will restore softness.

Honey does not expire. It will last indefinitely! Be sure to buy 100% pure honey in glass. A lot of the honey on the market contains stuff other than honey. Honey found in King Tut’s tomb was still edible after more than 3000 years!

Bonus: Raw honey also has antibacterial properties.

Bottom Line: In most cases, you can be guided by your eyes, nose, tongue, and sense of touch.


In a 1958 interview, William Faulkner said, “Don’t be ‘a writer’ but instead be writing.”

“Don’t be ‘a writer’ but instead be writing. Being ‘a writer’ means being stagnant. The act of writing shows movement, activity, life. When you stop moving, you’re dead. It’s never too soon to start writing, as soon as you learn to read.” (from an interview excerpted in The Daily Princetonian, 1958)

I have no quibble with the latter. Action is absolutely essential. But I beg to differ on the former. Being a writer—identifying oneself as a writer—is a mind-set with profound implications.

Benefits of Being a Writer I’ve Observed

For one thing, you become more aware of the nuances of language—for example, the difference between mopping up the water and sopping up the water. It goes beyond dictionary definitions, punctuation, and grammar, necessary as those are.

Being a writer may not be terribly beneficial to your spine…

You become a more observant person, noticing what people say and how they say it. You realize that saying something is beautiful, scary, dull, etc. really doesn’t communicate much. It tells the speaker’s emotional response, but does nothing to allow the listener to share the experience. What caused that emotional response?

Then, too, writers are life-long learners. Writers need to—want to—“get it right.” If the story is set during the Great Depression, and you write that ham was ten cents a pound or gas was ten cents a gallon, it needs to be accurate. Readers can’t trust a writer to get anything right if they don’t get basic, verifiable facts right.

Writers meet other writers, in classes, critique groups, at conferences, online, in all sorts of interesting places. The result is a confluence of interesting people. I never met a boring writer (though some writers are married to remarkably boring spouses).

Being a writer is great for your abs and hip flexors…

Other writers sometimes become friends, friends who really care about what you are doing, who are willing and eager to talk about it. I have a whole circle of friends and relatives who are happy when I publish something (mostly short stories these days). But they don’t ask about my writing otherwise, seldom ask the title, never ask where it is published, don’t really want to hear about plot, structure, or getting stuck.

Writing has allowed me to know myself better. The recurrence of themes—whether struggles, outcomes, or family relationships—shows me what is (and probably always was) important to me.

I once wrote a story of a childhood event vivid in my memory from the perspective of my mother. It gave me a new appreciation for her life situation, marriage, and goals.

Speaking personally, writing is the most intellectually engaging thing I do. It feeds my soul.

Benefits of Being a Writer Researchers Have Observed

There isn’t a lot of research on soul food, but there’s quite a bit of research on the benefits of writing.

Being a writer may cause oddly patterned hair loss…

Psychiatrist and life coach Dr. Erwin Kwun has described five benefits of writing:

  • Build resilience
  • Sharpen the mind
  • Boost your happiness
  • Communicate complex ideas clearly
  • Learn about yourself

For one thing, writing is good for one’s cognitive skills. According to a review of relevant research by M. Cecil Smith, Ph.D. (published by Northern Illinois University), writing seems to be beneficial to cognitive skills because it requires focusing attention, planning and forethought, organization of one’s thinking, and reflective thought, among other abilities – thereby sharpening these skills through practice and reinforcement. Writing may, indeed, be beneficial to intellectual vitality, creativity, and thinking abilities.

The National Institutes of Health agrees, being a writer is good for one’s emotional well-being. “Writing allows individuals to observe, monitor, and evaluate how they express and control their emotions. The sense of control over emotions that is a direct result of writing helps the writer improve their well-being and reduces negative emotions.”

Being a writer carries a distinct risk of introspection and fabulous fashion sense…

English teachers and writing teachers know very well the benefits of being a writer. Not only is writing practice critical to develop good reading skills, it is also a crucial job skill. Because so much communication today takes place online, being able to write clearly and directly has become a necessary skill for social connection.

  • Writing equips us with communication and thinking skills.
  • Writing expresses who we are as people.
  • Writing makes our thinking and learning visible and permanent.
  • Writing fosters our ability to explain and refine our idea.
  • Writing allows us to process and understand our own experiences.
  • Writing gives us better empathy and understanding of people different from us.
  • Writing creates entertainment for ourselves and others.
  • Writing provides others with a sense of who we are and how we think.

Writing is an important and powerful tool in everyday life. Writing allows us to store information, to make a permanent record. The appeal of this function of writing is evidenced by the popularity of keeping diaries (records of daily events) and journaling (with more focus of the meaning of events, making it more internal and personal).

Bottom Line: Be a writer in 2024. It’s good for you!


Have you ever stopped to consider the difference between creativity and imagination? Clearly, the two are linked, but how do they affect each other?

The authors at the Discover Building Sets blog explain the relationship between imagination and creativity this way: “Creativity is commonly referred to as the ability to create something real using imagination. Whereas imagination is the capability to create in one’s own mind what does not exist. The imagination come first and is necessary for creativity but not the other way around.

Oxford Languages defines imagination as the faculty or action of forming new ideas, or images or concepts of external objects not present to the senses. And creativity is the use of the imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of an artistic work.

“Life in the Minds of Children”

Highly Creative People

The obvious question is, who’s the most creative of them all?

Determining the most creative person ever is highly subjective but there have been lots of people who have made groundbreaking contributions in various fields, demonstrating exceptional creativity. Quoting Kriti Roy (writing at Quora), some people often mentioned for their creativity include:

  • Leonardo da Vinci: Leonardo da Vinci is renowned for his extraordinary artistic skills, scientific explorations, and inventive mind. His diverse talents and imaginative thinking exemplify creativity across multiple disciplines.
  • Pablo Picasso: Picasso’s innovative and influential approach to art, particularly through his development of Cubism, challenged traditional artistic conventions and expanded the boundaries of visual expression.
  • Marie Curie: Marie Curie’s pioneering work in radioactivity and her groundbreaking discoveries in physics and chemistry demonstrate her innovative and creative approach to scientific research.
  • Albert Einstein: Einstein’s revolutionary theories in physics, including the theory of relativity, transformed our understanding of the universe. His ability to think beyond conventional boundaries and imagine new possibilities exemplifies creative thinking.
  • William Shakespeare: Shakespeare’s literary works, such as his plays and sonnets, showcase his exceptional storytelling abilities, linguistic creativity, and profound insights into human nature.

These are just a few examples, and there are many other individuals throughout history who have made significant creative contributions in their respective fields.

It’s important to note that creativity can manifest in various domains, including arts, sciences, literature, philosophy, and more. Each person’s creativity is unique and shaped by their context, cultural influences, and personal experiences. Defining the “most creative” person ultimately depends on individual perspectives and the specific criteria used to evaluate creativity.

Traits of Creative People

Here are twelve traits that creative people possess and use in their daily lives, as discussed at

  • Curious
  • Playful
  • Open-minded
  • Flexible
  • Sensitive
  • Independent
  • Risk-taking
  • Intuitive
  • Thorough
  • Ambitious
  • Objective
  • Energetic

Creative Personality Traits often appear in apparently opposite personality types.

  • Introverts and Extroverts
  • Intuitive and Observant Personalities
  • Feeling and Thinking Personalities
  • Prospecting and Judging Personalities
  • Assertive and Turbulent Personalities

In short, by my reading, any personality type can be creative, though not always by the same means.

“Creative people like to daydream and imagine the possibilities and wonders of the world. They can immerse themselves in imagination and fantasy, yet remain grounded enough to turn their daydreams into reality. They are often described as dreamers, but that doesn’t mean that they live with their heads in the clouds.”

Kendra Cherry, MSEd, from Very Well Mind

Downside to Imagination

Although imagination is necessary for creativity, not all imagining is productive. An individual with an overactive imagination is one whose tendency to focus on their fantasies is so frequent and central to their waking hours, as to distract them from actually working toward achieving their own goals, or developing real-life, fulfilling relationships.

There is a strong overlap between imagined and hallucinatory phenomena in the sense that both are internal representations of external things that are not present at the time.

Some people actually develop fantasy-prone personalities. Cases of FPP have a harder time distinguishing between external reality and their own, internal fantasies. They have also been found to be more easily hypnotized than the general population.

The ability to imagine—and then dwell on—things that are not actually happening can contribute to mental health problems such as anxiety and delusions.

But imagination can also play a powerful role in healing. Guided imagery can be used to help with pain, sleep, nausea, anxiety, anger and fatigue.

Bottom Line: As far as I can determine, there is no downside to creativity, whereas imagination is a two-
edged sword.


Surveys and studies in developed countries around the world have investigated the relationship between age and happiness. Psychologists measure happiness by looking at “emotional well-being”—i.e., when a person consistently reports more positive than negative feelings. They have discovered that, by this measure, seniors are happier than their juniors, as a Scientific American study explains.

Better With Age

Plenty of recent research agrees. For example, the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry published a study in 2016, in which researchers analyzed data collected from a random sample of 1,546 people from ages 21 to 99 in San Diego.

Older people were physically more disabled and had more cognitive impairment than younger ones—the natural deterioration of aging—but in mental health, the advantage flipped. People in their 20s and 30s reported having the highest levels of depression, anxiety, and stress. They also report the lowest levels of happiness, satisfaction and wellbeing.

Older people, surprisingly, were the happiest, as Mandy Oaklander writes in Time.

The U Shape of Happiness

Yew-Kwang Ng, an economist at Monash University in Australia, compared research from the past twenty years in his 2021 paper “Age and Happiness.” He found that overall happiness throughout life tends to follow a U shape. Younger children are generally fairly happy; the beginning of adolescence coincides with a decline in “subjective well-being.” Yew-Kwang Ng theorizes that this may result from changes in sleep patterns adolescents experience.

Many factors impact the timing and shape of this U-shaped happiness curve: gender; health; lifestyle; income; national per-capita income; the overall happiness of the country; formative events in early life; and early self-esteem. Still, studies in multiple countries and internationally agree that most people start to experience a decline in overall happiness in their late teen years or early twenties. A Chinese study found that the lowest point for most people occurs around age 34.

After a period of low happiness in middle age (roughly ages 40 to 65), the majority of people begin to feel an uptick in overall happiness later in life. Over time, this upward trend plateaus again, and reported happiness levels don’t reach the same heights as those from earlier ages. An Australian study found that many people experience another decline in happiness in the last years of their lives.

The following chart illustrates this relationship, starting during teen years.

Happiness and Age, World 2012
Happiness and Age from the Brookings Institute

Maximizing Happy Aging

Margie Zable Fisher wrote a great overview for Fortune Magazine – The 3 Habits That Can Help Boost Your Happiness As You Age. She included the work of several acknowledged experts, including Laura Carstensen, Katharine Esty, and Robert Waldinger.

Elders’ happiness has to do with what Laura Carstensen, professor of psychology and director of the Stanford Center on Longevity calls emotional wisdom.

“As we age, our time horizons grow shorter and our goals change. When we recognize that we don’t have all the time in the world, we see our priorities most clearly. We take less notice of trivial matters. We savor life. We’re more appreciative, more open to reconciliation. We invest in more emotionally important parts of life, and life gets better, so we’re happier day-to-day.”

TED Talk: Older People Are Happier

Close relationships, more than money or fame, are what keep people happy throughout their lives. Those ties protect people from life’s discontents and help to delay mental and physical decline. Research at Harvard suggests these ties are better predictors of long and happy lives than social class, IQ, or even genes. That finding proved true across the board among both Harvard men and the inner-city participants.

I’ve taken these recommendations from the Fortune article cited above.

1. Maintain Friendships

Consider spending more or all your time with people who make you feel good. Try to maintain friendships with people in a range of ages, some older, some younger, some the same age. Esty suggests that we all need three different types of friends to really thrive:

  • Neighbors and others who provide practical help when we need it, such as running errands or watching pets.
  • Confidants with whom we can have open, honest communication about feelings or inner conflicts. We shouldn’t have to hide major parts of ourselves from good friends.
  • Friends who are fun to be with and with whom we can do fun activities.

2. Ask for Help

Although help is often easier to give than to receive, “The best relationships are two-way—where we give and receive help,” says Waldinger.

For midlifers thinking about retirement, “… many people aren’t certain what they want to do with their lives after retirement. They need to have a sense of purpose,” Esty says. “It works well to form a small group of friends who meet on a regular basis to discuss the issues in their lives and talk about their dreams for the future.”

3. Take on Responsibility

Many people consider shedding personal responsibilities and work duties to be one of the perks of growing older. However, this gift may come with unexpected pitfalls.

As Esty explains, a study of elderly residents in a nursing home showed that “more choices, more decision-making possibilities, and more responsibility raise the level of happiness in older people.” The key, she says, is to take on only responsibilities that you enjoy and to say no to other requests.

It may help to take on responsibilities related to an activity you enjoy. You might join a book club and offer to host meetings. If you enjoy a sport, consider becoming involved in a local league or even coaching a youth team.

And one more happy note: Although studies find that satisfaction with life and positive emotions decline with mobility problems and the deaths of spouses and other loved ones, research by Anthony Bardo of the University of Kentucky and Scott Lynch of Duke University shows that the cognitive impairment that can accompany aging does not preclude happiness and a high quality of life.

Note: age and happiness are correlated; however, getting older doesn’t cause happiness. We can all name several causes of (un)happiness, everything from not having enough money to an unsatisfying marriage/partnership. But all that is beyond the scope of this blog.

Bottom Line: Nobody will be happy all of the time, but we can expect to be more happy than not with age, especially if we lay a good foundation.


A marriage annulment is a legal ruling that deems a marriage null and void — as if it never happened in the first place. Annulments effectively erase the marriage.

There are two main ways to formally end a marriage: annulment and divorce. An annulment declares that a marriage was never valid, while a divorce legally concludes a valid marriage. A divorce is more common and easier to attain. Annulment requires specific circumstances and evidence.

Most people are fairly familiar with divorce, personally or observationally, so this blog focuses on annulment, both civil and religious.

“The Civil Wedding” (1887)
Albrecht Samuel Anker

Civil Annulment

Because an annulled marriage was never considered legally valid, any prenuptial agreements are also invalid. Plus, neither partner has a right to the other’s personal property or finances the way they would in the case of a divorce.

Getting the courts to grant an annulment can be difficult. At least one party must believe the marriage shouldn’t have happened, and they have to provide grounds to a judge in order to have it annulled. To qualify for an annulment of marriage, you must meet certain circumstances. The following situations typically qualify:

  • False pretenses: One or both parties were tricked into getting married.
  • Mental incompetence: One or both parties weren’t legally able to make the decision to get married because of a mental disability or being under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.
  • Underage marriage: One or both parties were under the legal age of consent (typically 18) at the time of the marriage.
  • Concealment: One or both parties failed to disclose important details about themselves and their lives prior to the marriage, like having a child, criminal conviction, or serious illness.
  • Failure to consummate the marriage: One or both parties are unable to be physically intimate in the marriage.
  • Concealed Infertility: One spouse might be physically incapable of having children, and that spouse might have lied about it to the other spouse. This would involve both fraud and lack of consummation.
  • Consanguinity: Incest is defined as a relationship between two blood relatives who would be banned from legal marriage in their state. This typically means more closely related than first cousins.
  • Bigamy happens when one person is already married at the time of marrying someone else.
  • Underage without parental consent: Lack of consent can happen when one spouse is too young to consent on his or her own behalf, and the other spouse did not get proper consent from the parents of the underage spouse.
  • Unsound mind: You may be able to show unsound mind if you or your spouse was under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of your marriage. If you were prevented by intoxication or by a mental disorder from understanding what you were doing, you may be able to get an annulment.
  • Finally, a marriage can be annulled if one spouse threatened, blackmailed, or coerced the other spouse into marriage.

In an annulment where there are children, it’s as if the parents were never married. That means both parents can individually seek custody or work out an agreement for shared custody, much like they would if the child had been born to unmarried parents in the first place.

“Le Jugement de Salomon” (1649)
Nicolas Poussin

States’ Rights

Just as the requirements for marriage and divorce vary by state, so do some aspects of annulment. Someone interested in an annulment—whether for personal, family, or literary reasons—should investigate requirements of the relevant state.

Sometimes there are time limits on filing for an annulment. According to the Nathan Law Offices, in general, you have four years from the date of the marriage to file for an annulment. However, there are exceptions depending on the reason for the annulment.

And the time limit varies by state. For example, in Michigan, Virginia, and Ohio—and many others—the marriage may be annulled if a case is brought to court within two years of the marriage date.

However, there is no time frame to get an annulment in New York City. You can ask the Court for an annulment whether you have been married for 2 years or for 25 years as long as some of the grounds for annulment are met. Ditto Georgia, and several other states.

In Oklahoma a marriage that takes place before the expiration of six months from the date either spouse was divorced is a voidable marriage. In order to annul such a remarriage, an annulment action must be brought within the six-month period.

In North Carolina, the marriage can be annulled if it was performed under the representation that one of the parties was pregnant, but the couple separates within 45 days of their marriage and no child is born within the 10 months following the separation. Many states allow annulment on a much greater number of fraud-related grounds, but in North Carolina this is the only fraudulent ground available for an annulment.

“The Marriage Settlement” (1745)
William Hogarth


This is a totally separate action. People who don’t qualify for a civil annulment may still be able to obtain a religious annulment, but this will have no effect on legal responsibilities as spouses. This process is not a part of the court system but, rather, a part of the church or institution to which the person(s) belong. However, it serves a similar purpose in that a religious annulment of a marriage typically decrees that the marriage was invalid from the beginning.

Pope Francis I

In religious annulment, the Church recognizes that a valid marriage never existed under the laws of the Church. Although some other religious institutions provide annulments, the Catholic Church is by far the most commonly used. For simplicity’s sake, I’ll stick with Catholic annulments here.

In 2015, Pope Francis issued a motu proprio, which is essentially an amendment to existing Catholic canon. These two documents, the Mitis Iudex Dominus Iesus and Mitis et Misericors Iesus (one for the Western Catholic Church and one for the Eastern Catholic Church), make the process of obtaining an annulment more efficient.

Without an annulment, a Catholic cannot remarry, even if they divorce. A divorced Catholic who remarries without obtaining an annulment cannot receive any other sacraments.

The short of it is that to obtain a Church annulment, the person seeking the annulment must satisfy the Church that one or more of the requirements for a valid marriage was missing or abridged. The long of it is—well—long. (These are quoted directly from the Vatican library of canon law online.)

  • Insufficient use of reason (Canon 1095, 10): You or your spouse did not know what was happening during the marriage ceremony because of insanity, mental illness, or a lack of consciousness.
  • Grave lack of discretionary judgment concerning essential matrimonial rights and duties (Canon 1095, 20): You or your spouse was affected by some serious circumstances or factors that made you unable to judge or evaluate either the decision to marry or the ability to create a true marital relationship.
  • Psychic-natured incapacity to assume marital obligations (Canon 1095, 30): You or your spouse, at the time of consent, was unable to fulfill the obligations of marriage because of a serious psychological disorder or other condition.
  • Ignorance about the nature of marriage (Canon 1096, sec. 1): You or your spouse did not know that marriage is a permanent relationship between a man and a woman ordered toward the procreation of offspring by means of some sexual cooperation.
  • Error of person (Canon 1097, sec. 1): You or your spouse intended to marry a specific individual who was not the individual with whom marriage was celebrated. (For example, mail order brides; otherwise, this rarely occurs in the United States.)
  • Error about a quality of a person (Canon 1097, sec. 2): You or your spouse intended to marry someone who either possessed or did not possess a certain quality, e.g., social status, marital status, education, religious conviction, freedom from disease, or arrest record. That quality must have been directly and principally intended.
  • Fraud (Canon 1098): You or your spouse was intentionally deceived about the presence or absence of a quality in the other. The reason for this deception was to obtain consent to marriage.
  • Total willful exclusion of marriage (Canon 1101, sec. 2): You or your spouse did not intend to contract marriage as the law of the Catholic Church understands marriage. Rather, the ceremony was observed solely as a means of obtaining something other than marriage itself, e.g., to obtain legal status in the country or to legitimize a child.
  • Willful exclusion of children (Canon 1101, sec. 2): You or your spouse married intending, either explicitly or implicitly, to deny the other’s right to sexual acts open to procreation.
  • Willful exclusion of marital fidelity (Canon 1101, 12): You or your spouse married intending, either explicitly or implicitly, not to remain faithful.
  • Willful exclusion of marital permanence (Canon 1101, sec. 2): You or your spouse married intending, either explicitly or implicitly, not to create a permanent relationship, retaining an option to divorce.
  • Future condition (Canon 1102, sec. 2): You or your spouse attached a future condition to your decision to marry, e.g., you will complete your education, your income will be at a certain level, you will remain in this area.
  • Past condition (Canon 1102, sec. 2): You or your spouse attached a past condition so your decision to marry and that condition did not exist; e.g., I will marry you provided that you have never been married before, I will marry you provided that you have graduated from college.
  • Present condition (Canon 1102, sec. 2): You or your spouse attached a present condition to your decision to marry and that condition did not exist, e.g., I will marry you provided you don’t have any debt.
  • Force (Canon 1103): You or your spouse married because of an external physical or moral force that you could not resist.
  • Fear (1103): You or your spouse chose to marry because of fear that was grave and inescapable and was caused by an outside source.
  • Error regarding marital unity that determined the will (1099): You or your spouse married believing that marriage was not necessarily an exclusive relationship.
  • Error regarding marital indissolubility that determined the will (Canon 1099): You or your spouse married believing that civil law had the power to dissolve marriage and that remarriage was acceptable after civil divorce.
  • Error regarding marital sacramental dignity that determined the will (Canon 1099): You and your spouse married believing that marriage is not a religious or sacred relationship but merely a civil contract or arrangement.
  • Lack of new consent during convalidation (Canons 1157,1160): After your civil marriage, you and your spouse participated in a Catholic ceremony and you or your spouse believed that (1) you were already married, (2) the Catholic ceremony was merely a blessing, and (3) the consent given during. the Catholic ceremony had no real effect.
One of the most famous “annullers” of all time—King Henry the VIII—created a new religion so he’d be allowed to marry all of these women.


Unless otherwise specified, there is no limit on the passage of time between marriage and annulment.

Glynn (Scotty) Wolfe, an American Baptist minister is known for having the largest number of monogamous marriages. He married 31 different times. One marriage was annulled.

A Catholic couple who obtain a divorce can subsequently apply for an annulment when one or both parties want to be members of the church in good standing and/or be remarried in the church.

If one member of a couple applies for an annulment, the other member has the option of agreeing, disagreeing, or (in the case of a couple previously divorced) simply not responding.

If each spouse/former spouse completes the fact-finding forms (done independently), their answers are compared and discrepancies resolved. This process can go on for months!

“Mariage de Louis de France, Duc de Bourgogne et de Marie-Adélaïde de Savoie” (1715)
Antoine Dieu

Bottom Line: Civil and religious annulments are two distinctly different actions and one cannot replace the other. Be clear about your rights and responsibilities, which vary by state in Civil annulments.


That pretty much sums up an optimist’s way of life. More formally, an optimist tends to be hopeful and confident about the future or the success of something. But is optimism truly a good thing? Or is it just for suckers?

Optimist optimism
“Optimist: Someone who figures that taking a step backward after taking a step forward is not a disaster, it’s a cha-cha.”
~ Robert Brault

I recently blogged about pessimism, and found that, indeed, entrepreneurial pessimists earn lots more money than optimistic ones. Pessimists tend to avoid risks, and in finances, that’s a good thing. Why? Because being overly optimistic can blind you to the costs and consequences of a situation. You can overestimate the benefits, and underestimate the costs. And you can make poor decisions because you fail to make an accurate assessment of the number and magnitude of the risks.

But Overall?

fortune cookie optimism

It turns out that optimism is a good thing. An optimistic attitude helps us be happier, more successful, and healthier. Optimism can protect against depression — even for people who are at risk for it. An optimistic outlook makes people more resistant to stress.

Research tells us that people who are optimistic are more committed to their goals, are more successful in achieving their goals, are more satisfied with their lives, and have better mental and physical health when compared to more pessimistic people. Optimistic people live longer.

The Bethany School in the UK published detailing The Benefits of Optimism:

1. Optimists feel healthier.

  • A 2013 study of 150,000 people in 142 countries found that optimists feel healthier overall. The research shows that, if people think the world is inherently good and things will generally turn out well, they will rate their personal sense of well-being higher.

2. Optimists are healthier.

  • Not only do optimists feel healthier, a study by the Harvard School of Public Heath shows that optimists really are healthier. They have fewer heart problems, better cholesterol readings, and (as another study found) lower levels of triglycerides in the blood.

“Lifestyle factors, such as regular exercise and healthy eating, accounted for less than a quarter of the optimism-lifespan association in the study, indicating that other factors may be at play.”
The Harvard Gazette

3. Optimists live longer.

Dalai Lama
“Choose to be optimistic; it feels better.”
~The 14th Dalai Lama
  • Those feelings of well-being and improved health outcomes carry over into longevity. Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh found that optimists tend to live, on average, 11% to 15% longer than cynics. People who expect to live longer wind up actually living longer!

4. Optimists are better at fighting illness.

  • Suzanne Segerstrom and Sandra Sephton demonstrated that students who received positive news were better able to fight off infection than students who were given negative news. Optimism may not miraculously cure cancer, but research shows that optimists are generally better at shrugging off illness and then recovering if they do get sick.

5. Optimists experience less stress.

  • Optimists tend not to bother too much about minor mishaps and — when they do — they don’t bother as much as pessimists. Researchers at Concordia University in Quebec found that people with optimistic outlooks produce less of the stress hormone cortisol when they are in stressful situations. In addition to regulating stress better than pessimists, optimists don’t subconsciously perceive as many situations to be stressful and worthy of releasing cortisol.

6. Optimists form better relationships.

  • Sanjay Srivastava at the University of Oregon found that optimists tend to have happier and longer intimate relationships. In a 2006 study, researchers found that optimists report receiving more support, encountering fewer incidences of conflict, and resolving conflict more quickly than pessimists. Even relationships between an optimist and a pessimist were happier and lasted longer than those between two pessimists.

7. Optimists enjoy working more.

8. Optimists get more job offers and promotions.

  • Optimists also have an better experience when they look for jobs. Research from Duke University shows that optimistic MBA graduates found jobs more quickly and with less effort than their pessimistic peers. Employees who expect good things to happen also earn higher starting salaries and receive more frequent promotions.

9. Optimists adapt better.

  • During times of change, optimists are better able to adapt to new circumstances. Incoming students at the Queensland University of Technology participated in a study showing that more optimistic students reported lower levels of stress, depression, and anxiety while transitioning from high school to university life. A study of students at three universities in Ghana found that participants who more successfully overcame obstacles also reported higher levels of optimism, among other factors. Another study in Ghana reported that optimistic students in an MBA course better adapted to changes later in their careers and displayed stronger leadership skills.

10. Optimists make better athletes.

  • The University of Pennsylvania Positive Psychology Center ran an experiment on college-level varsity swim teams, adding several seconds when they told swimmers how well they had performed in timed trials. In subsequent swims, optimistic athletes responded to the negative feedback by performing even faster; pessimistic athletes swam more slowly than they had initially. In another study, collegiate soccer and basketball players who had an optimistic outlook performed significantly better even when losing than their more pessimistic teammates. Athletes of any age who display optimistic personality traits tend to be better at planning effective exercise strategies and experience lower rates of athletic burnout.

Surprise Benefits of Optimism

Happiness is a sign of high intelligence, research finds. People who are more satisfied with their life and their job score higher on tests of general mental ability.

Colin Powell
“To think in terms of either pessimism or optimism oversimplifies the truth. The problem is to see reality as it is.”
Thich Nhat Ha

And then there is attractiveness: research indicates that most people find optimists more socially attractive. However, people who were themselves optimists liked the other optimist even more. On the other hand, people who were pessimists were not quite as keen on the optimist, but still preferred them to the pessimist.

Optimism, as opposed to blind positivity, equips us to face our problems, recognizing the dangers and difficulties, which makes us much more likely to avoid them, and achieve a positive outcome.

So how do you spot an optimist? Jason Wachob, CEO of MindBodyGreen, and David Mezzapelle, author of Contagious Optimism, identify seven traits optimists share:

  • They Express Gratitude.
  • They Donate Their Time And Energy.
  • They’re Interested In Others.
  • They Surround Themselves With Upbeat People.
  • They Don’t Listen To Naysayers.
  • They Forgive Others.
  • They Smile.

“To be strong so that nothing can disturb your peace of mind, to be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own, to be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.”
The Optimist Creed
~Jake Fratangelo

Optimists are bred, not born. Although optimism almost always starts early, it is cultivated from childhood— usually the result of having positive relationships with optimistic parents. But, as in Pretty is as pretty does, you can cultivate your own optimism by adopting the habits listed above.

“Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.”
~Colin Powell

You might also join an Optimist Club. Founded in 1919, Optimist International connects 80,000 members across 20 countries in local Optimist Clubs. Their mission statement: “By providing hope and positive vision, Optimists bring out the best in youth, our communities and ourselves.”

Antonyms for optimistic include dejected, depressed, doubtful, gloomy, hopeless, pessimistic, and sorrowful—and who wants that?

Bottom Line: Curb your financial risk taking but choose optimism!