In Malcolm Gladwell’sBlink, Gladwell explores, among many other topics, the toxic effect of contempt on human relationships. Researcher and psychologist John Gottman, who tapes and analyzes the interactions of couples and the outcomes of their marriages, says that contempt is the single most important predictor of whether a marriage will fail. Contempt (“any statement made from a higher plane” … “trying to put that person on a lower plane”) is “closely related to disgust, and what disgust and contempt are about is completely rejecting and excluding someone from the community.”
Yesterday, I was embraced by the Twitter community after I posted this:
Here were some non-contemptuous and very helpful replies:
You may be worrying and wondering — how could I have a day where FOUR people I didn’t know showed contempt to me? Well, three of them were customer service people who talked to me from a higher plane on the phone, without helping, when I was trying to resolve a health insurance issue. The fourth was a person I didn’t know who talked down to me after I snapped one of the photos I have to share with you today.
Well apparently the Daily Bitch is familiar with contempt.
Here are a few more non-contemptuous exchanges on Twitter:
Sometime, when people treat me with contempt, I get out my negative feelings by pretending to drum along with Billy Cobham.
While I was waiting to see Dr. Homoud for the first time, I noticed all this:
I’ve gone from heartbreak to happiness about my unusual congenital heart disorder many, many times during my almost sixty-six years on this planet. At this point, after a miraculous and happy time when my heart reverted to a normal rhythm after my valve replacement surgery in 2016, my heart is back in atrial fibrillation for the rest of my life. I have no heartbreak about that, only happiness because of my caring and committed team of cardiologists.
Do you see any paths from heartbreak to happiness in my other photos from yesterday?
My boyfriend Michael (who makes my heart happy with his nutritious, delicious, low-salt home-cooked meals) helps me go from heartbreak to happiness, every day. Last night, after a typical heartbreak-to-happiness-to-heartbreak-to-happiness day, we danced to this:
What helps you go from heartbreak to happiness? For me, gratitude always helps.
Michael and I met five years ago on a pleasant Halloween in pleasant Harvard Square. Here are some pleasant words we exchanged — through the pleasant online dating site OkCupid — right before that extraordinarily pleasant day:
Me: Sure, meeting at Peet’s is a fine suggestion. You know it’s going to be Halloween when we meet up, right? Do you think we should be in costume? My suggestion is that we both wear masks that are made from printouts from a picture we’ve posted here. That way, we’ll be sure to recognize each other. Otherwise, I might not recognize you unless you have the same exact expression you have in your black and white picture here. In the other picture you posted, you’re too far away, so I don’t think that will provide me much help in spotting you. Although maybe it will when you’re far away. I hope you have a wonderful evening, night, morning, and whatever parts of the day you experience before we write again.
Michael: I’ll keep this relatively short today Ann, so we have a lot to babble about tomorrow. Excellent suggestion concerning the cut out masks incidentally. I cracked up. Ah, I don’t really know what you mean by “black and white” picture though, Ann. I really am that pasty. So is my apartment. I’m afraid I let my hair get kind of long but you’ll know me sure enough. I will be the man with, by far, the scrawniest legs in the cafe.
Me: Speaking of cracking up, I did the same when I read your black and white picture comment. You really are pretty hilarious. SInce you have given me some helpful hyperboles and superlatives regarding how to identify you (e.g., “the scrawniest”), I’m trying to be thoughtful that way and come up with something similar which will, without fear of contradiction, identify me as being the most of something in the vicinity. But I’m having some trouble with this. I just don’t think I’m that much of a stand-out, either way. The best I can come up with now is that I will be the person with the most curious expression on his or her face standing outside of Peet’s. By “curious” I don’t mean “odd” (as in “curiouser and curiouser” in Alice in Wonderland), but rather “curious” as in “eager to find out.”
It’s pleasant for me to remember that day, five years ago, when Michael and I met, although I went to another pleasant coffee house first, by mistake, and had to rush to get to Peet’s on time, which I found very unpleasant. When Michael and I share pleasant memories about our first pleasant meeting, he tells me that I had a rather unpleasant expression my face when he first saw me. That’s because I find it unpleasant to be late (especially for something I expect to be surpassingly pleasant).
Here are some pictures I took yesterday. It would be most pleasant if you let me know which ones you find particularly pleasant or unpleasant.
Those last two pictures I took during a pleasant stroll with Michael on Pleasant Street. Honest.
Pleasant thanks to Michael, Donald Pleasance, Billy Cobham, the Brecker brothers, George Duke, Will Lee, John Abercrombie, Garnett Brown, and pleasant people who helped me write this post, Especially pleasant thanks to you — of course! — for being here, in the pleasant present.