June 8, 2010

Do Manners Relate to Health?

So I'm sitting in the movie theatre the other night after meticulously choosing the appropriate seats.  I try so desperately not to in front of people (as to obstruct their view) and try my best to avoid "the talkers" in the theatre. To my frustration, as soon as the movie began, the women behind us started talking. Not just talking...talking loudly.  I tried the passive-aggressive route of communication first by shooting them a glance. Nothing. Finally, I stood up, leaned over, and asked; "Are you planning on talking the entire movie? Should I find another place to sit?"

Not my proudest moment. I'm sure I embarrassed my boyfriend and I certainly felt bad after the words left my mouth. I wouldn't have been so disgusted with myself except for the fact I teach a course in assertive and healthy communication (see...it isn't exactly what you know).

Although it is not excuse, my reaction stemmed from many many times sitting in front of talkers. I am finding this more often than not. Why are people so blind to the needs of others? Why do people insist on talking loudly, talking on their cell phones, neglecting to say "thank you" when the door is held for them, and the like? Why are there more rude people than ever before? Am I just getting old and bitter or is this a fact?
I took to my home library after remembering buying a few books on the subject. I began to read "Talk to the Hand" by Lynne Truss. In this book, she offers the following;

Manners are based on the ideal of empathy, of imagining the impact of one's own actions on others. They involve doing something for the sake of other people that is not obligatory and attracts no reward. In the current climate of unrestrained solipsistic (a view that you are the only one in the world) and aggressive self-interest, you can equate good manners not only with virtue but with positive heroism.
Interesting, eh? It is sad that polite, well mannered, and professional servers stand out these days. I make a point of writing letters to the business when I notice such behaviour. Unfortunately, it is rare. Why? Are we just too self-centered to give a crap? How does this relate to health?
Research does suggest that those that lean towards more self interest than caring for others tend to enjoy higher rates of cardiac events such as heart attacks. So perhaps being kind and thoughtful to your fellow movie-goer is good for your health? Perhaps if we took this approach and related respecting others with health people would take notice?

All I can say is no matter what, I will make a promise to continue to hold the door, continue to say hello to a passerby, and continue to refrain from talking in the theater. I cannot, however, promise that I won't tell you to shut the hell up if you are talking over the movie...but I'll try and work on it.

Something to think about.

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