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February, 2013: 10 21

2/10/13-Sun.-Just left at the end of one of the best conferences I have ever attended, an Alanon gathering here in Austin. Several of my Alanon friends were there. The speakers were great. Having a motel room right there made things restful and relaxing. The food was good. And so on. What's not to like!?

In just a few minutes, I am heading over to my final get-together with the meditation group members with whom I have sat (or walked) almost weekly for about six years. Various developments in our core folks' lives have meant that it no longer works for us to meet regularly. It is time, then, to say "Goodbye" and perhaps look for another meditation setting and group.

Though things are going relatively well in my life overall, there is still grieving to be done, sadness having been engendered by the end of both my library volunteer work and of this meditation group.

There is also concern about less than ideal relations of late with my walking buddy (with whom I have now sometimes also been going to lunch). After he had taken an interest in some investment methods I use and begun using one of the stock screens I like, he seems to regret this, evidently a little peeved or anxious that in the past few days his stocks have gone down a little. My guess is he had not adequately assessed his emotions and need for security before taking the plunge with about $10,000-20,000, a small amount compared with his overall portfolio, but maybe most of his discretionary funds.

Now he seems unsettled by what he has done and tending to see me as responsible, though I had never hidden the obvious reality that stocks sometimes go down as well as up. The strategy as a whole is sound. However, it is not appropriate for someone who wants to invest just occasionally then forget the holdings, returning later to nice profits.

This may be a difficult phase of our friendship. His tone indicates he wants to blame me for his nervousness. I must avoid taking that bait or feeling I have to allay his anxieties as he gets used to being a more active investor than he has been previously. Oddly enough, he has been in Alanon for over 30 years, but in this area he is showing reactions more like a newcomer to its serenity program.

2/21/13-Thurs.-In my life I've sometimes felt badly because I did not have children and hence also no grandkids, etc. I have envied at times those I imagined had so much richer lives than I. I have also wished I had a fuller and longer sex life, figuring I had missed out for not having become a romantic athlete since my early to mid-teens and for no longer being "active in bed" in recent years.

The results of recent research, though, are encouraging in both respects for someone in my situation. It turns out that, in the short-term at least, parents actually have in general more stress and less overall satisfaction than couples who are childless. Even in the long-term, though couples with kids feel more rewards than those without, the differences on average are mild. The reality is somewhat more modest than the ideal.

New findings also indicate that having significant new insights into things one is investigating can be as profound for a person's sense of well-being as one's first love, and a sense of wonder at the curious yet commonplace aspects of reality all around us in our "ordinary" lives can be as transformative as that depth of engagement with another, over and over again.

Brain research and books such as My Stroke of Insight point to the benefit to one's happiness of "living" more in one's right brain and of learning, more or less at will, to switch into right-brained awareness. Similarly with learning to live more in the moment.

Further, folks who have good friends are much better off in terms of qualities like calm, happiness, and lowered stress than relative loners. The addition of a single good friendship can raise one's sense of fulfillment 10%.

Studies of the effects of meditation and exercise show that they also can significantly enhance peoples' outlooks, often leading to a quiet joyousness.

Words to the wise?

I met today for lunch with my walking and lunch buddy, and whatever concerns I had after our last visit appear to have been groundless. We got along splendidly today with no aftermath of a misunderstanding from a couple weeks ago or so.

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