OPINION: “From One Senior Citizen to Many Senior Graduates”

Glenn Mangurian

May 14, 2024 by Glenn Mangurian

Dear High School and College Graduates,

Congratulations to the Class of 2024!

Each May I write a letter to the graduating seniors with my perspective on this important transition. Last year I suggested that graduates continue to develop their emotional intelligence – empathy, self-awareness and impulse control. This year my advice is a little different – cultivate a habit of being kind. It will be one of your keys to lifelong success and happiness. You’re living in a time of increased division, challenge and animus. The world can benefit from more kindness.

What do I mean by kindness?
Kindness is the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate. It is a gift that you can provide to others. If you are kind, you signal that you care about others which in turn helps build trusting relationships. Being generous to others makes it safe for others to be generous in return. Finally, by being considerate to others, you build the practice of caring for yourself.

How to be kind
While your academic achievements are undoubtedly impressive, they are not the only skills that will help you create a fulfilling life. In my experience, much of my success has been a result of nurturing professional and personal relationships. You can’t fake being kind. Authentic kindness is less an act of doing and more an outward expression of your inner character. Here are a few behaviors that can help cultivate kindness as a habit:

1. Smile
Offering a smile is relatively easy. I’ve learned that smiling is something that is understood by everyone across cultures, races, religions and genders; it is internationally known. A smile sends a signal of safety and happiness. When you smile, you become likable and approachable. People who tend to smile produce what is called “the positive effect” which correlates with greater trust and increased cooperation. When someone smiles at you, don’t you tend to feel a little better?

2. Listen More; Talk Less
Think of friends who seek you out for advice for challenges or decisions they face. How do you show up for them? We may think of ourselves as good listeners but don’t we tend to talk more than listen? Resist the temptation to offer help until asked. Some people think that, when they’re listening, they are compelled to find a quick and easy solution to the other person’s problem. Focus on absorbing everything the person is saying to you. Wait for the request for help, if it ever comes. Many speakers just want someone to listen and not help.

3. Ask, “How Are You Doing Today?”
Whether a retail sales person, telephone customer agent or front desk servicer, they each spend their days engaging in a set of transactions for a string of people they don’t know. I’ve learned when you ask how their day is going, the question invokes a positive response and a reciprocal question in return. The interchange changes from a transaction to a relationship – even for a short time. If you ask “How Are You Doing Today?”, it demonstrates that you care enough to ask.

Think about your daily lives and how these behaviors can or do influence your relationships, achievements and happiness. Do your friends and peers experience you as a caring person in their challenging situations? Continue to be authentically kind. It will not only open new possibilities but also make you make a better person. The world needs your enthusiasm and optimism more than ever.

Be courageous and be kind,
Glenn Mangurian
Senior Citizen

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