After 58 years of life experience, 99% of the time I’m in public I am not intimidated by other people.
The remaining 1%, however, is enough to convince me I’ll never be a normally functioning human being.
Case in point: yesterday.
I started going to a new nail salon since we uprooted from our previous abode a couple months ago. I’d been a regular customer at my prior salon for about six years, so switching to new one was a big deal for me.
I knew all the nail technicians at my old place, and I was completely comfortable — even though they rattled off to each other in their native Vietnamese the entire time.
I got a kick out of it because once in awhile I’d catch an English phrase… “blah blah blah blah chicken wings blah blah blah…”
Cracked me up.
This new nail salon is the polar opposite of my old standby.
Before I go on, keep in mind I am an introvert, so I don’t do well in crowds. In fact, I avoid them at all costs. Christmas shopping at the height of the holiday season, going to a concert and walking into a party in full swing is my personal trifecta of Total Terror.
So when I walked into this salon and found it wall-to-wall with people, my first instinct was to run.
This place won raves on Yelp, so apparently my sense of vanity is strong enough to override my natural tendencies to flee the scene.
To make matters worse, no one looked happy. In fact, the young woman assigned to me seemed downright miserable.
I tried joking with her but only got a side eye, so I gave up.
Then I noticed a TV screen showing a revolving slideshow dedicated to the artwork for which this salon is known. Giant, square tips with elaborate decorations, long, spiky red talons and glitter and sparkle as far as the eye can see.
As I’m watching this, my nail technician (I did not get her name) asked me, “Do you want a gel manicure?”
After having gel nails for years my own nails began splitting and peeling, so I’ve been gel-free for a long time and prefer natural nails — especially with all the time I spend at my computer keyboard. Polish never lasts.
“No, thank you. Just natural nails,” I say.
Remember that old E. F. Hutton commercial, where everyone stopped talking to hear what he had to say? It was like that. You could’ve heard a pin drop.
Apparently “no, thanks,” was the wrong answer. (They make a lot more money from gel manicures than natural nails.) She did not say anything more, but her pout got even poutier.
So much for relaxing. Then one more thing popped into my head as I looked around and caught snippets of conversations (“So, I was like, then he was like, and my mom was like…”): I am probably the oldest person here by a landslide margin.
Not only was I the non-gel-wearing new customer, but I was the “old” non-gel-wearing customer. (Thankfully, she didn’t ask me if I wanted red, spiked, 4-inch nails. I think she knew the answer.)
On the upside, the manicure was super fast and good, so it was worth enduring for the end result.
When I left the salon I realized how much I’d allowed the atmosphere to harsh my mellow. I went in there in a great mood but quickly shut down when I was greeted by Crabby McCrab Face and a roomful of youngsters half my age.
I felt as if I was back in Junior High School when the entire pack of popular girls made a vow with each other not to speak to me (true story).
Only this time I’m a little — okay, a LOT — older, but apparently not much wiser.
I decided to snap myself out of it and stop being a weenie.
Aside from that, I recalled a 2014 study that showed older people who felt three or more years younger than their actual chronological age had a lower death rate than those who felt their age or more than a year older than their actual age.
That’s right: If you feel younger, you may live longer.
That sells it for me.
The good news? You can practice habits to keep you in a whippersnapper state of mind. Try these on for starters…
1. Challenge yourself
Try new things, learn new ideas, and develop different skills. Take up gardening or cooking classes, go to a comedy club, learn yoga, take an art class. All these things create new neuropathways in the brain and overall make you feel happier.
2. Look for a sense of meaning in life
We’re not all here by some cataclysmic accident. You have a purpose. Commit to helping others, volunteer, teach a skill, etc. Connect with others, and not just through Facebook. Spend more time with friends and family, face-to-face. Crazy, I know.
3. Be in the moment
When you’re upset it’s usually for one of two reasons: You’re worried about something that may happen in the future or you’re dwelling about some event from the past. Being in the moment means being right here, right now. You won’t get a chance to have another one just like it.
4. Don’t take yourself too seriously
Learn to laugh at yourself. If you’ve read any of my blogs you’d know this is one of my superpowers. If you can see the humor in situations it’s easier to let them roll of your back.
NOW YOU… What habits do YOU believe keep you young at heart? Let me know in the comments below…
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Got questions? Send ’em to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I answer all my own email so it may take me a day or two to back to you, but I will respond!
Your Ageless Body Coach,