20/20 Hindsight: Lessons on conflict resolution from the home for the aging

LESSON #1

HOLDING A GRUDGE WILL ONLY SHORTEN YOUR LIFE

Readers will recall that last year's newsletter was a series of "Life Lessons" as observed through the eyes of the next generation, my granddaughter.  Like "My Mother's Legacy" (the theme of 2017's Newsletter), these were lessons that have served me well as I apply them to my mediation practice. This year, I'm happy to share with you some of the wisdom and lessons I learn from the elderly residents who reside with my father in the Home for the Aging.  Hopefully, you will savor their wise advice and learn from them just as I do each time I visit there.

Once you reach your eighties or nineties, you have invariably endured plenty of indignities, hurts and even injustices.  Surprisingly, though, adults over 70 seem to define themselves not by sorrow, dread and regret, but rather by peace, gratitude and fulfillment.  

Paradoxically, psychologists have found that there is a marked U-curve to happiness.  While both childhood and old age are often marked by contentment, middle-age, when our power, potential and productivity is the greatest, is sometimes a low-point in our "life satisfaction" journey.  It is during those years that we struggle to maintain our power and status, while pressured with the responsibilities for paying mortgages, raising children and managing stressful interactions with our business and personal relationships.

Our old folks can teach us that by normalizing life's crises, our elderly can provide a leveling, reasoning center to the tumult that surrounds us.  Wisdom, in short, allows people to see the obvious and to use common sense without second-guessing themselves or the outcomes.  

If we can, like older folks, become masters of managing our fears and voluntarily affirming our obligations to afford us the chance to return to the ordinary job of being content, or our "affective happiness" (how we really feel), we will achieve happiness and satisfaction at any stage.

The next time you find yourself in conflict or in a mediation, ask yourself or your clients how they will feel about their decision 20 or 30 years down the line?  Is it something that will matter enough to tell their grandchildren?  My guess is that the better part of wisdom will always dictate to "let it go" and moved towards fulfillment and peace rather than staying in sorrow, dread or regret.

P.S.  I wish you a Happy New Year and successful and satisfying 2019.  I'm attaching an article on Communication skills which appeared in November, 2018 in the Daily Journal.  Enjoy! Lessons in Communication that you didn't learn in Law School

Jan SchauComment