I recently decided that I need to spend a little extra time with the women in my life, so I started visiting my 105-year-old great-grandmother at her home. This woman is extraordinarily special, and is capable of so much at her age. She continues to teach me new lessons, even unintentionally at times. She was brought up and has raised all of her kids in a rural farming area in Eastern Ontario, Canada. There are two lessons that she has taught me thus far that I feel will benefit you just as much as they continue to benefit me. These are life lessons from a 105-year-old.
1. Treat your neighbor the way you’d like to be treated
We have all heard the sayings “treat others with respect” and “treat others how you would like to be treated.” Both of these phrases come across as the same, but describe two completely different actions. My grandmother explained the importance of keeping a strong bond between you and your neighbors. It wasn’t a matter of giving respect and getting back; you earned it, and in return you received it.
There are various ways in which relationships with our neighbors have changed over the years. I will give you a couple of examples of how we have grown more distant.
Meet and greet new neighbors
Rarely do I find myself approached by residents of an area I just moved into. In the past, as the “new family on the street” you would oftentimes find fellow neighbors casually bringing gifts to welcome you. Acts of kindness like these were a lot more frequent and random. My grandmother emphasized the fact that if she ever made too many baked goods, the extras usually went to the neighbors. Though some neighborhoods still show tokens of gratitude and acceptance, they have faded out for the most part along with common courtesy.
When I am seeking instruction on how to complete a task, I usually use Google. Before the time of internet, our ancestors had to rely on the skills and assistance of others. If you were unable to build or fix something, you would oftentimes have to seek assistance from your neighbor. Payment wasn’t the main focus, either. Time and time again, neighbors exchanged favors rather then money. You treated each other how you wanted to be treated because you never knew when you would find yourself seeking help. Word spread quickly because everyone was so tight-knit, so you never wanted to burn your bridges with anyone for fear of a bad name.
2. Don’t go to bed angry
Another one of my life lessons from a 105-year-old is “Don’t go to bed angry.” One of the main reasons is the fact that we are ignoring what is bothering us, and therefore not fixing the problem. When we ignore situations that bother us and attempt to “sleep it off,” we are setting ourselves up for the same results when we are re-exposed.
Example: When a wife does something that bothers her husband, the husband does not want to approach the situation due to fear of confrontation. This results in him bottling up his anger. The fact that he is not voicing his opinion on the matter not only leaves the wife thinking she has done nothing wrong, but also sets the situation up to be the same or worse next time it arises. By not approaching the actions we dislike, we are not finding a resolution and can soon expect the same feelings to re arise.
This fact was actually scientifically proven to be true. A group of neuroscience students from UMass Amherst found that when we go to bed immediately, or ignore a problem, it remains “protected.” This means that when you are exposed again, your response will likely be just as negative as the last time.
Example: Someone witness to a gruesome accident that stays awake after the incident is less likely to have negative responses to crime scene images. You can read on the actual article here.
As you can see, there are various lessons that can be learned from someone who has experience. I continue to seek advice from my great-grandmother because I have learned that nothing teaches us more than personal experiences do. I will provide you with more life lessons from a 105-year-old as my visits progress.