Outside Observations

Just a couple things floating around inside my head, longer than 140 characters but less than full-fledged blog posts.

The Smile Experiment

I don’t think people are unhappy so much as they’re effectively asleep behind the wheel. People are creatures of habit but we also find repetition boring. So most people will drive the same roads to/from work every day. After having driven it a few times, we start spacing off or at least thinking about anything but what we’re doing. And since we’re mentally living elsewhere, we let our faces go slack which tends to look like frowning most of the time. And it’s not just smiling in your car that can turn another person’s day around. I remember once while having a less than wonderful day I went to the grocery store, I saw a woman turn around with a pleasant smile on her face. I have no idea who she was or what she really was smiling about, but I remember seeing that smile and feeling almost like the smile was for me. It rather made my day back then.

Family Gatherings

Is it just me or do many people actually feel more comfortable around their in-laws than their own extended family? When I go to some sort of family function for my wife’s family, I might feel a bit like an outsider but it doesn’t bother me much. I guess I expect to feel like an outsider there. But when I go to one of my family functions, I tend to get tense & annoyed over how much an outsider it makes me feel. My best guess on that is it comes from having not grown up with these people who’ve obviously lived most of their lives in close proximiity to each other. Whereas when I was a kid, my dad was in the USMC for 20 & 1/2 years; we seemed to move about every 5 years and we didn’t live near my relatives. Sure we’d visit during the summer and did eventually move back to the same general area, but I already felt like an outsider then (probably didn’t help there weren’t any relatives around my age when we visited).

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