Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Boomers Bridge the Generation Gap, Part Two

Boomers are the bridge.

I discussed this analogy in the last post. Like any bridge--a covered bridge, the Golden Gate Bridge, a floating bridge--we Boomers connect people. In our families we bridge the gap between old and young. That's a good thing, usually.

Yet there is a darker side to being a bridge. "Sometimes we feel walked on from both sides," Author Dennis Gibson writes in his book, The Sandwich Years. Demands race at us from both our aging parents and younger generations, causing a traffic jam.

Daily we need to stop traffic and repair the bridge. For if we go down, nobody is served.

Sonja Lyubomirsky, a research scientist and author, offers help. In her highly documented and readable book, The How of Happiness, she distills years of empirical research on the science of happiness.

She lists 10 "Happiness Activities" that can help us repair our bridges. Here are four. The next blog will cover the remaining ones.

Happy People:

1. Express gratitude. Thankfulness brings back well being after we experience loss, fatigue and overload. It strengthens moral behavior, enabling us do do the right thing, even when our aging parent might not respond positively.

2. Avoid overthinking. Ruminating about a problem heightens sorrow, impairs our ability to solve problems and saps motivation. Whenever I find myself overthinking, I tell myself, "Stop!" If I'm diligent, the pattern will cease.

3. Suppress negative emotion. Happy people "schedule" their negative emotions. For example, if we feel sadness, we can tell ourselves, "Sadness, I can't see you now. I'll see you after supper."

4. Practice religion or spirituality. Prayerful people tend to live longer. They have higher deposits of hope, gratitude and love. Expecially helpful are prayers that seek God's presence in our lives, Lyubomirsky says.

Do you have any practices you'd like to share that help you "repair the bridge"?

Stay tuned to the next post.

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